Vacation Survival Mini-Guide

How to enjoy your vacation and still come back lean and healthy.

Hey there, I hear you have a vacation coming up. I bet you’re in your office right now dreaming about how awesome it’ll be to throw off the shackles of corporate Vancouver and go wild.

Maybe you see yourself on the beach, or at a cafe in Europe. Maybe the setting doesn’t matter as long as there’s a beer in your hand. Whatever it is, you must be itching to break out of the office and follow your heart.

  • Total relaxation.
  • Total freedom. 
  • Each day doing exactly what you want and nothing else.

Though… at the back of your mind there is a slight niggle. It whispers, “You’ve worked so hard at staying healthy. Do you really want to throw it all away for a couple weeks of enjoyment?”

But then some office bullshit happens and you go right back to: SCREW IT. SEVENTEEN MARGARITAS PLEASE.

Let’s get this straight, this guide is not about depriving yourself. You aren’t a contestant on Survivor. If you go on vacation, you should have fun, go a little crazy, not obsess about every little thing like Karen from accounting.

But you’re not 22 anymore, you don’t need a hedonistic vacation-of-a-lifetime. 

There is a middle ground.

Granted, it is tough to find balance, but this mini-guide will give you a framework to get the most out of your vacation AND get the body of your dreams.

To explain what I mean, let’s get into a little… 


There is a concept in economics called diminishing returns. 

In diet terms it means you probably didn’t enjoy your second dessert nearly as much as your first one.

Or your eighth beer as much as your second beer.

What we want to find is the optimal point of enjoyment with the least amount of sacrifice — and weight gain. 

You make little negotiations with yourself every minute of every day… and it’s not going to stop on vacation.

The problem is, negotiating takes a TON of effort. You’re crazy if you think you’re going to have enough willpower to negotiate with yourself after an exhausting plane ride and the wave of relief that hits you when you finally get to relax for the first time in months. 

The only way you’ll be able to win is if the deal-making is already done and both parties — Current You and Future You — are happy with the plan.

For example, do you have stuff to do during the day? Or are you going to get bored and fill your time with eating and drinking?

With no planning, here is how your beach vacation probably looks:

First drink at noon — with an umbrella of course. When finished, continue ordering drinks until around 4pm when you start to get sleepy. 

Now you’ve reach a fork in the road. Either you take the nap path and wake up hungover in 2 hours or you keep drinking and power through. 

The choice is yours.

Either way, 6pm rolls around. It’s getting dark, you’re already a little burnt out and it’s time to start thinking about dinner. What’s the chance of you eating a delicious but reasonably sized meal?


You’re an independent human with free will and no one should stop you from making your own decisions. But Future You has to be the one to deal with the consequences of Current You, so let’s find a way to have your cake and eat it too by only going after the things you truly value

Ask yourself the tough questions needed to find out what you really want. It’s too easy to go on autopilot and just do the convenient thing. Will having 8 cocktails really make you feel any better than if you had 3? There are definitely some special nights in my life where those 8 drinks would be worth it. But I definitely don’t want to do it every single night of my vacation.

How about you, what do you value?

Be honest with what you want — don’t suddenly become a saint and then come up with a ridiculous, unrealistic plan. Figure out what easy steps you can take to get what you want while reducing the negative side effects.

Maybe having a single beer with lunch works great, but maybe one beer turns into six beers before 6pm. Know who you are and make right the decision. If you know what you want, it’s easy to turn down things that you don’t really care about but are sitting right in front of you.

For more detailed information on how to make the best decision when it comes to protein, carbs, and fat, check out the Element Athletic Nutrition FAQ.

Whatever you decide, accept that this is your vacation and that sometimes it’s necessary to take one step back to take two steps forward. Yes, try to gain as little weight as possible but do not beat yourself up over the weight you do gain. Simply resume your regular schedule when you get home and you’ll be right back to where you were before in no time. 

And if you don’t have a regular schedule, come visit us at Element Athletic and we’ll get you sorted out so you look your best before your vacation and you still look great when you get home. 

So that’s it for the nutrition part, now let’s get to the non-negotiable stuff.


One of the biggest vacation hacks is working out every day. Period.

Some of you might be thinking, duuuude, it’s my vacation and I don’t want to work out. 

And to that I say, it is easier than you think.

We’re not trying to break any records here, all we want to do is break a sweat for 30 min every day. 

THAT’S IT. Don’t tell me you can’t do that. 

You’re not sacrificing anything here, this isn’t like choosing healthier foods over tastier foods. Literally, just get your heart rate above 140bpm for 30min every day and you’ll have twice as much energy and your vacation will be twice as good.

You can also kick jet lag in the dick by exercising right when you wake up. Exercising re-tunes your body clock and it’s the best way to get you on schedule. 

It also kick starts your metabolism so you can burn off the extra calories you’re definitely going to eat. Mmmm, carbs.

And don’t tell me you’re too busy to exercise… it’s a vacation, you get to decide what to do. 

But if that’s going through your mind, you might be one of those people that needs to see ALL THE SIGHTS. Well, exercising will only give you more energy to complete all the tasks of the day. No excuse.

It’ll also make you calmer when things inevitably don’t work out 100%. Nothing like adding nervous energy to a bad situation, am I right?

Don’t ever say “I need a vacation from my vacation” again. Just find the time to work out and when you get home you’ll fall right back into your routine without a missed step.

Workout #1

Here is a sample “beach HIIT workout”. It’s awesome to do on the sand and then jump into the ocean after. 

1min work / 30s rest

  1. Cobra Arch 15s (Back stretch) / Downward Dog 15s (Hamstring stretch) / Plank Lunge 30s (Hip Stretch)
  2. Air Squats
  3. 10m Shuttle Run (touch the ground with your hand each time)
  4. Crawl Out Push Ups
  5. Hollow Hold or Plank
  6. 10m Shuttle Run (touch the ground with your hand each time)
  7. Rest 2min

Repeat 3x for 30min workout

Workout #2

When you’re not traveling for sand and sunshine, this next one is my go to workout. It’s particularly good when jet lagged or hungover and all you have access to is a hotel gym. 

  1. Treadmill walking on max incline (usually 15 degrees) for 30 min. Adjust speed to keep heart rate at 140bpm. You should be pouring sweat but if you start breathing hard, back in down a notch until you can hold a conversation. Btw, don’t hang on to the rails. 
  2. Hang from a bar for a few minutes, resting when your grip strength gives out and hopping back on when it’s recovered.
  3. Dumbbell superset. Repeat 2-3 times or until desired pump has been achieved.
    • Standing Bicep Curls x 12 each arm
    • Standing Arnold Press x 12
    • Bent Over Dumbbell Row x 12 (make sure to maintain hamstring tension when bent over)
  4. Strut out the gym feeling like a superhero.


Make sense?

If you’ve gotten this far and you still don’t quite get how to make an effective plan, then you need to come visit us at Element Athletic. We are a full service gym combining fast paced and effective workouts with online nutrition coaching to get you the best results. 

From Dec 3rd to Jan 14th, we are putting on a 6 week Holiday Survival Transformation Program where you’ll work out with us 3 times per week and learn everything you need to know to execute the right nutrition plan for your lifestyle and goals.

It runs during the holiday season which is the toughest part of the year and the most likely time you’ll drop off your diet and exercise plan.

So don’t be stuck trying to get healthy in January. Get a jump on it and enjoy being a step ahead of the rest of the world.

Sign up and we’ll let you know when we open up registration. Or if you’re ready to get right into the exercise portion, come on down to Element Athletic for a free trial.


Don’t miss out!