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September 15, 2019 2 min read

By Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD

Vacation is synonymous with indulgence, so it may sound counterintuitive, that some people report dropping pounds during a vacation — even after leaving day-to-day eating and fitness routines at home. Could a trip be just what you need to help you drop a couple of pounds?

Here are a few factors that may contribute to the vacation weight loss phenomenon:

  1. Travel is often treated as a time to indulge with foods and drinks we may not normally consume. Being fully present as you try and enjoy new foods or treats in your travels may help you eat more mindfully. Although some vacationers may consume foods they don’t normally eat at home, they may eat less overall without access to their usual meals and snacks. Busy sightseeing schedules may also mean you eat less overall.
  2. Vacations are a time to relax and de-stress from the responsibilities of everyday life. Less stress may result in improved digestion and more downtime and rest, which are important lifestyle factors when it comes to keeping weight off. Stress causes weight gain, but feeling more calm and relaxed while you travel may result in a bit of weight loss.
  3. Depending on the type of vacation you take, you may be more physically active compared with a typical day at home. Walking tours, hiking, swimming and other athletic activities all count toward your activity level and may provide a slight metabolism boost while traveling. Extra calories burned may result in few pounds dropped while on vacation.

    Visiting colder and warmer climates may also result in extra calories burned, especially if you’re active and/or sightseeing outdoors in temperatures to which you’re not acclimated.

Some people also use the time leading up to vacation as an external motivator to lose weight. If this works for you, it can be a great way to jumpstart some healthy habits! However, special events like trips shouldn’t be relied on to lose weight. It’s critical to understand your “why” and have other motivators for sustainable weight loss.

While it’s possible to see the number on the scale decrease during your next vacation, you shouldn’t expect to lose a significant amount of weight as a result of travel alone. Keep in mind that whatever weight you lose while traveling will likely be regained when you return home, unless the same eating and exercise habits are maintained. This works in reverse, too. Some people find they gain a few pounds on vacation, but quickly lose it when they return to their normal routines.

Bottom line? It’s what you do over the long haul that makes weight loss and weight maintenance possible. It may sound boring, but there are no quick fixes when it comes to improving health or reaching a healthy weight. Consistent, sustainable food and exercise choices have to be made as part of an ongoing lifestyle in order to see lasting results.

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