Four Reasons for My Vacation Weight Gain

If I know one thing about myself it’s this: when I go on vacation, I gain weight. And the longer I’m on vacation the more I gain. So when my wife and I decided to do a two week trip to introduce her to my extended family, some old friends, and my hometown, I suspected I’d be returning a little doughier than I was when we departed.

Mission accomplished.

For me, vacations = extra lbs.
For me, vacations = extra lbs.

While embarking on this east coast pilgrimage, I managed to put on eight pounds, breaking the previous “vacation weight gain” record of seven pounds, which was set last October during our honeymoon.

Of course, the reasons for this added weight are hardly mysterious.

Reason #1: Running (Lack of)
Vacations take us out of our routines. That’s the point. Go somewhere else, see new places, visit people, do things you don’t normally get to do. When I’m deeply entrenched in my regular routine I run 3-4 times a week, with an indoor soccer game thrown into the mix as well. That’s a healthy amount of cardio for a 40+ year-old man.

However, when I’m on vacation, I run whenever I can squeeze it in and am far more likely to rationalize NOT running. The good news is that I did manage to run four times while I was gone. The bad news is that the length and intensity of those runs weren’t enough to burn off the excess pounds I was slowly but surely accumulating.

Reason #2: Food (Lots of)
My day-to-day diet is not tightly regulated. I tend to eat as healthy as I can and reward myself with the occasional desert or decadent weekend night out. When I’m on vacation? It’s go time. I allow myself to eat just about anything, particularly when I’m in a locale (in this case, the northeast) where I get access to foods I can’t get back home.

To make matters worse, on this trip, just about every meal was eaten at a restaurant and I saw green vegetables about as often as I saw my running shoes. The result of this dietary debauchery was a daily caloric intake that was through the roof. I couldn’t tell you what the exact numbers were because I refused to track them. What I can tell you is that my two weeks on the road were mainly fueled by pizza, soft serve, bagels, BBQ, hot dogs, chicken wings, and soft serve. And it was delicious.

Soft serve ice cream... probably a good thing I don't have these at home.
Soft serve ice cream… probably a good thing I don’t get to eat this at home.

Reason #3: Booze (Lots of)
My booze rules at home are similar to my eating rules in that I simply try to maintain a reasonably moderate level of consumption. You know, a beer or two here and there, perhaps some wine with dinner. When I’m on vacation? It’s a marathon for my liver. I imbibe every night with the occasional afternoon drink thrown in for good measure. How could I not? I’m visiting new, exciting restaurants with tasty cocktail menus and getting access to a plethora of regional beers. What am I supposed to do, sip sparkling water at dinner?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not drinking like I’m in college or anything. I’m simply consuming a respectable number of alcoholic beverages in a moderate and mature fashion… every single day for 14 straight days.

Am I out there getting drunk? No. Am I piling on empty calories? Absolutely.

Reason #4: Stress
Stress is a known weight gain contributor. And while vacations are, theoretically, supposed to be relaxing, we all know that’s rarely the case. When you fly across the country and put two thousand miles on a rental car driving around the Northeast so your new bride can meet almost every member of your extended family and a handful of friends while also stopping to view the requisite historic sites and “cute” towns with your 8-year-old son in tow, relaxing is the last word that comes to mind.

And the daily drinking mentioned in Reason #3 makes even more sense.

Note how much green is still left on these plates.
A rare vacation meal that featured vegetables.

So I put on eight pounds. No big deal.  I’ve already gotten back into my running routine and I’ll probably be participating in four races in the next month and a half. The extra weight will come off in no time.

There are far more important things than gaining a few pounds. Like visiting another part of the country, seeing the people I love, enjoying the food that I miss, and keeping my sanity. Based on that standard, I went 4-for-4 on this trip. The sanity part was a touch and go for a while, but we made it home in one piece and no once consulted a divorce lawyer… that I’m aware of.

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