How To Not Lose Fitness Progress On Vacation

how to not lose fitness progress on vacation

You’re searching for how to not lose fitness progress on vacation for a reason.

The past few weeks or months you’ve been working so hard to lose weight and get in shape.

You’ve been hitting the gym, dialing in your nutrition, and finally for the love of all things holy starting to be consistent with your fitness.

But… here comes this vacation that’s due up ready to ruin all of your progress and completely throw you off track.

Well don’t you worry you brave warrior you. In this article we will make sure you know exactly what needs to be done to figure out how to not lose fitness progress on vacation.

It’s going to be very important that you read every single section.

Please don’t skip around, otherwise you might miss something, leading to lost progress. You don’t want that, right?

Cool, so you will read the whole way through right?

Man, I knew I liked you. Let’s get into it.

How To Not Lose Fitness Progress On Vacation

First, Think About This

I first want you to stop and think about something.

How long does it take for you to see progress?

Do you see or make a ton of progress in a week, two weeks, or even a month?

No, right?

You so dearly WISH you did… but you don’t.

It takes a long time to see & make progress.

The same is true for LOSING progress.

If it takes you months to make progress, you do not undo that progress in ONE week of vacation my friend!

Now, I know I hear it already..


First, stop yelling, I am right here, you don’t need to yell.

Second, I get it. Let me explain this by telling you a story.

My Client Gained 10lbs

how to not lose fitness progress on vacation Jennie

This is a story about one of my 1:1 online coaching clients, Jennie.

Jennie had been killing it for multiple months in a row. She was really starting to rack up the lbs lost and making some significant weight loss progress.

She had a beach vacation coming up and was worried about losing all of her progress.

We talked back and forth about what she should do.. Should she still stay on track, let herself “live a little”, stick to her diet & workouts….

So many “shoulds”.

Yet we decided what was going to be right for her at this moment in her journey was to let herself go, not super stress about it, and just enjoy it.

And enjoy it oh she did.

Jennie gained 10lbs on that vacation, her weight shown below.

Well, f*ck.

It happened.

Her progress was lost. You might be thinking “Eric… this is an article on how to not lose fitness progress on vacation.. You’re not really convincing or helping me here…”.

I know, stick with me young grasshopper.

I showed you Jennie gained 10lbs on vacation.

What did we do?

Well, we didn’t freak out. We didn’t do some crazy cardio routine nor did we cut her calories down to next to nothing to “make up for it”.

We simply just got back on track to her regularly scheduled plan that we were doing right before she left.

Now, let’s fast forward a week and some change to see where her weight was then..

how to not lose fitness progress on vacation

Yep, you are seeing that correct.

Jennie was not only down the 10lbs she had gained, but she was then down another lb or so on top of that.


So wait, Jennie DIDN’T lose all of her progress that one week of vacation?!

The weight came right back off when she got back home?!

Yep, yes it did.

Why? How?!

Well, let’s break it down.

Just because you gain WEIGHT on vacation doesn’t mean you inherently gain FAT on vacation.

For you to gain 1lb of fat, you would need to eat 3500 calories above your maintenance calories.

So for Jennie, if say she was eating around 1500 calories which was her calorie DEFICIT, this would be 500 calories BELOW her maintenance calories.

If her maintenance calories are 2000, she would had needed to eat about 5500 calories per day for her to gain 10lbs of fat.

Trust me when I say, I can eat and I know you can eat too.. You or I can’t eat that much to gain 10lbs of fat in one week.

(No, I can REALLY eat.. This is a typical 1/2 of a breakfast for me when I go on vacation..).

That sh*t is impossible to gain 10lbs of fat in a week.

What happened then? Jennie just gained some water weight.

A mixture of a bit more carbs, sodium, and some alcohol thrown in the mix lead her to gain 10lbs of water weight on vacation.

Which, in all honesty, is not uncommon or abnormal to do.

Yet the key part is what we talked about earlier. She came home and got right back to her regularly scheduled routine.

She started hitting her calories, getting her walks, and doing her workouts just as she normally was again.

From this, this allowed her to simply drop the extra water weight she was holding onto.

Then even go BELOW in weight than what she was at before she left because she got back eating in a calorie deficit which meant she would lose more body fat.

Therefore, no Jennie didn’t ruin all her progress on vacation, and neither will you.

Because one or two weeks doesn’t make or break your progress, it matters what you do MOST of the time, not SOME Of the time.

Now, let’s dive a bit more in depth into how to not lose fitness progress on vacation.

How To Not Lose Fitness Progress ON Vacation: A Few Options

The way I see it you have 3 main options when it comes to vacation, knowing that no matter what you pick, you don’t lose progress in a one or two week time frame.

The first is taking the approach my client Jennie above took which was basically take the vacation, enjoy it, maybe even over indulge a bit, then just come back & get right back on track.

There is nothing inherently wrong with that and I think for some people (maybe you) that is a great way to go about your vacation.

The second option is maybe a bit more of an “unpopular” one amongst people, but I’m just going to keep it 100% real with you.

Option 2: Stay On Track

I want to tell you another story about my 1:1 coaching client Nicole.

how to not lose fitness progress on vacation

This is a good story that comes full circle, so stick with me here.

Within the first few months of Nicole and I working together she had a vacation coming up.

While Nicole was in fact making some progress with her weight loss journey, she was still early on in the process.

Unlike Jennie, she hadn’t been at it THAT long and she was coming from a place of NOT being in control of her health & fitness for a long time.

So, again, we talked about it and decided what would be best for HER at THIS moment in time in her journey?

( See a theme here? Hint : it is going to depend on YOU and where YOU are!! ).

For Nicole, at THIS moment in her journey, we decided that it would be best for her to stay a bit more on track during her vacation.

We didn’t necessarily have goals of making a ton of fat loss progress that week, but we did continue to count her calories.

She ate more around her maintenance calories that week, not necessarily in a calorie deficit, but she was still tracking.

We made sure she still got her walks in.

She made it a priority to get her workouts in during this time as well.

It was a two week vacation. During this period of time Nicole fluctuated between the same few lbs up and down.

While she didn’t “lose any weight”, she didn’t gain any weight either, and most importantly she kept her routine to stay on track.

For her, at that moment in her life, it was best for her to not break her routine as she had been OUT of a routine for so long just a few months prior.

She didn’t want to halt any momentum she was having and quite frankly, she had felt like sh*t for so long she wanted to feel better about herself.

For Nicole, at that moment in time, it was the right choice to stay on track.

Fast Forward A Year

Now let’s fast forward a year.

Nicole and I are still working together (and she is still my client to this day!).

She is due up to take this SAME vacation in the SAME place for the SAME duration of time, 2 weeks.

Now, at this point, she is down about 55+ lbs, has made insane changes, and has completely rocked out her routine for the last year.

She is a completely different person.

So, what did we do for that same vacation a year later?

Well, now because she had made so many changes to her life, body, and routine, she took this vacation to treat it a bit differently.

She didn’t count calories this time, she ate in moderation and enjoyed some different foods ( we will talk about this next! ).

Nicole still got her workouts in because she enjoys working out, not because she ‘had to’ to keep herself from losing progress.

Her walks still happened because again, she enjoys walking & moving her body.

But the main point here is she didn’t overly obsess about “staying on track” this time because she had gotten to a point in her journey where she was in a different spot than she was a year ago.

For her, this was the right choice for HER at THIS moment in her journey.

Which leads me into the next option.

Option 3: Moderation

So far we have talked about the two main options of how to not lose fitness progress on vacation.

The first extreme of saying “yolo!” and enjoying yourself.

The second extreme of going out of your way to be on point and on track.

That must mean the third option has to be somewhere in the middle?

Yep, you got it right my friend.

The way I like to do this is by following a few simple guidelines.

“Dorito Rule”

I heard a good colleague of mine, Mike Vacanti, once talk about the Dorito Rule.

The Dorito Rule is basically the rule where on vacation, if you want to enjoy it but not go overboard, don’t stuff your face with food in excess just because it’s vacation.

For example don’t pound an entire bag of doritos just because #vacation. You can eat doritos anytime, anyplace, anywhere you want.

Or a snickers bar.

Or some sort of generic ice cream.

That’s not “native” to the place you’re going for vacation, so don’t treat it like a free for all that way.

Now, if there is a food that is native to that place, ie Pasta in Italy, then go for it!

But don’t eat just to eat if it’s something you can get all the time, anyplace, anywhere.

3 Bite Rule

The next rule I like to use is the 3 bite rule.

Now, a lot of people on my instagram (@ericrobertsfitness !) got real mad at me for saying this because you know, god forbid you have rules around food.

You should just be able to eat whatever you want whenever you want, right?!

Regardless, I am not saying you have to do this, I am saying this is something I have done with my clients in the past & it has helped them so it might help you too.

In fact, I did this with one of my 1:1 online coaching clients Sophie.

how to not lose fitness progress on vacation sophie story

She was going on a cruise and we were trying to figure out how she could “enjoy” some foods and try some things without necessarily overdoing it & making herself feel like sh*t physically from eating so much food.

We came up with the 3 bite rule.

All it is is whatever you are going to eat, cookie, ice cream, a entree, whatever.

If it isn’t apart of your regular meal, just simply take 3 bites of it, stop and wait about 5-10 minutes, and decide if you want to keep eating it.

A lot of times we “eat just to eat” or because it’s there. We don’t really practice any mindful thought to it.

The 3 bite rule will allow you to practice this mindful eating strategy, along with if you decide to not finish it, you can still get the “taste” and experience of it without overly racking up your calories!

Portion control is one of the best tools you have in your toolbelt when it comes to your fitness progress on vacation.

You can always control it no matter where you are or what you are eating!

Because let’s be honest, it all tastes the same after 3 bites anyway. At that point you’re just eating to eat, which isn’t inherently a bad thing!

Yet if you want to practice some moderation and nail down how to not lose fitness progress on vacation, consider giving the 3 bite rule a go!

Walk It Out

One of the greatest songs ever, shout out to Unk! Also big shout to you if you know this song.

Okay, really though, a goal to help practice some moderation on your vacation would be to simply get your steps in each day.

You would be SHOCKED at what this does for your metabolism.

There is something called your NEAT, Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.

This just means how many calories your body is burning throughout the day the day that is NOT your “dedicated workout” like a strength training workout or hiit bootcamp class.

NEAT takes up 15% of your total daily energy expenditure for that day.

Therefore if you make it a point to walk, be active, take the stairs, walk to the store instead of drive, take the extra stroll down the beach instead of laying on it (like I would do).

This can drastically help your NEAT which can help your calorie burn, WHICH, can help you practice a bit more moderation on vacation.

As opposed to eating more AND moving less, you may eat a tad bit more but you are also making it a point to move a tad bit more.

Not that you have to “make up for the food you eat” because you’re not a dog, you don’t need to be a good boy and earn your treats.

Yet the fact remains if you can be a bit more active and it relatively is a “low commitment” or low effort hanging fruit, it can help you out tremendously with your fitness progress on vacation.

Prioritize Protein

Another pro tip on how to not lose fitness progress on vacation is to prioritize protein.

Especially in the morning.

Protein earlier in the morning can help you not be as hungry throughout the rest of the day.

If you know you are going out to dinner or lunch, you might as well set yourself up to NOT be so hungry when going into those meals.

As well as even when you do go out to eat, again, prioritize protein!

When you’re ordering, order something that has protein as a main part of the meal.

Maybe at home you would get the grilled chicken salad because you need to ensure you’re in your calorie deficit.

On vacation, maybe you get the pasta with the grilled chicken breast as the main protein source so you can enjoy the pasta, yet still hammer home the protein.

9/10 if you make protein a “focus point” with your food, everything else usually falls in place quite well.

Since protein is the most satiating macronutrient it will very much help you from overeating, which is our next point.

Stop Eating When You’re Full

I know this one seems “simple”, and it also is easier said than done sometimes.

Yet even still it holds true, when you are full, stop eating.

Again a lot of times on vacation we “eat just to eat”.

It’s there, it’s new, it’s something different….

Hell, we don’t have to cook it so why not enjoy all of it!!!

Or even more so, you are paying for it, so you better finish all of it!

I’m telling you now you don’t have to do that.

You’re not a garbage disposal.

You don’t have to finish every lick of food just because.

When you’re full, it is okay, and a “good” thing to stop eating.

This is why I like slowing down the pace at which you eat too because the slower you eat the more time your stomach and brain have to talk.

Your stomach can tell your brain you are full and you don’t need to keep eating, which can massively help you from overeating.

What About Losing Muscle?!

Okay so those were my top few tips when it comes to how to not lose fitness progress on vacation and practicing moderation along with it.

I now want to cover something that plagued me for a long while which is, do you lose muscle if you don’t workout on vacation?!

Oh man, 16 17 year old Eric ruined a lot of family vacations because I was overly obsessed about not missing a workout.

I mean, if I missed a lift, that CLEARLY meant I was going to lose all my size, strength, and lean muscle mass I had worked so hard for….


Yea, you can see where this is going.

No, I wasn’t going to lose muscle, and you don’t lose any muscle when you go on a week or two vacation man.

In fact, you will probably come back refreshed, recharged, and ready to absolutely kill some workouts if you just give yourself a chance to rest.

If you WANT to workout while you are on vacation because you just genuinely enjoy it and want to, like Nicole did, or like I do most times when I go on vacation then sure do it.

But please don’t think you HAVE to workout when you go on vacation otherwise you lose all your gains because it just isn’t true.

It takes you at the very least 3-4 weeks of not working out to start to lose muscle & strength gains.

Even then, the losses are quite minimal, and when you come back to lifting they come back rather quickly due to that whole “muscle memory” thing you’ve heard about before.

Don’t stress about it and please, don’t be like 16 year old Eric and ruin family vacations over it.

If you want to workout, sick. If not, sick too.

Either way, you’re all good homie.

How To Not Lose Fitness Progress On Vacation : Final Word!

There you have it!

You now know your three main options for your fitness on vacation.

Take the time to enjoy, and maybe over enjoy!

Still be “on track” as much as possible.

Or, practice a bit of moderation and both things can be true.

There is not inherently one right answer. There is only a “right” answer for where you are currently at in your own journey.

Please remember that.

Most importantly remember that one or two weeks of a vacation does NOT make or break your progress.

One last time, you don’t make all your progress in a week so you don’t lose it all in a week.

It doesn’t matter what you do SOME of the time, it matters what you do MOST of the time.

Got it?

I really hope this helped you out and if you are interested in becoming a client in our 1:1 online coaching program, you can head HERE to fill out our application form!

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