If you’ve been following the podcast, you’ll see that many of the tools covered in previous episodes will set you up for a healthy and drama-free break from reality. I’m sharing my stories of unexpected disruptions and a mutual agreement that have made for wonderful vacations in the face of what could have easily ruined everything.
Join me for the first of this two-part series providing you the mindset tools to fully appreciate your time away. Tune in to discover what to pack in your emotional suitcase and what to leave at home. Whether you’re visiting family, staying in the States, or jetting off to Europe, approaching this experience with intention and managed expectations will ensure you have the amazing time away that you deserve.
Welcome to Empowered Wellness for Leaders, a podcast that teaches CEOs, entrepreneurs and sales leaders how to deal with the unique challenges of balancing a high-stress career, family, AND their own health. Here’s your host, Certified Executive Wellness Coach, Diana Murphy.
It’s summer. Welcome to my first podcast in June. It is definitely vacation season here. I don’t know if your town works like this but kids in Atlanta get out of school before Memorial Day and it becomes a ghost-town around here. And for me, that’s my vacation. I love when it’s quiet around here and the traffic isn’t horrible.
But it is that season and whether your kids are out of school yet, whether you even have kids and you sense that transition into summer, right. The summer routine feels really different. This podcast is going to be a little break from the others. It’s going to be very practical.
It really is for those people that have been working kind of going along here with the podcast, working hard on their health and really wanting to know what to do on vacation. So this is going to be a two-part episode where I talk about a simple guide to how to pack and really prepare for vacation – it sounds like too much work preparing, so how to pack for your vacation.
And then we’re going to talk about what to bring back. And that will be the next week. So all summer when you’re working on your health goals and then have a vacation come up, you’re going to be able to go back to this guide every single time and remind yourself of the ways that you can really – my goal is really for you to be present and really enjoy your vacation and not come back with extra weight or discouragement because things didn’t go how you wanted – and that can be around food or anything, right.
Remember, many of our vacations around family, there can be a lot of drama, so this is really just how to get your mind right before you go. And I have [some 0:02:09.6] a really creative way that I look at vacation because the things that we learn on vacation – and I want you to be thinking in this way – the things that we learn on vacation, we can start planting into our lives.
So that’s a little preview of what I have for you here. I know that if you’re working hard and you’ve been setting aside time to learn the hunger scale, to learn the tools I teach around eating or if you’re a client, you’re curious as to what to do on vacation. And the first place to start is really how we’ve looked at vacation in our history.
For me, this was always when I was working hard on dieting. I don’t know what it was that way but I think a lot of the new year’s I would be working hard on dieting, I lost some weight, I got through my birthday season in March and now we’re on vacation, like, “Oh my god, what’s going to happen?”
And for me, it was always as a child, like spring break, because vacations were defined in my mind and the family I was in, it was always around the food, and I literally overate the entire time as a kid. So you can see how I laid those patterns down. So vacation always triggered for me, “I can eat anything I want, I can eat all day, I can eat cruddy foods, I can eat good for me foods.” I didn’t even know what those were then, right, I just knew diet was restriction.
But I know I laid down a mindset in my history that really taught me that vacations were to be very different than my normal life. And that’s where we really have to be careful. So what if we had a new perspective, kind of awareness of maybe what triggers when we go on vacation. All of it’s going to be very different. My history was around, you know, having a lot of dieting and a lot of history around struggling around my weight and that might not be for you.
But I think we put expectations so high on our vacations, it’s like, as a coach for you, I just want to protect you from being disappointed, but that’s just not possible. Alright, so what if we just took the load off of ourselves with our expectations about weight-gain, about how we behave and yet still came back healthy, rested, relaxed and [stutter 0:04:28.7] reprieved, you know.
As my kids were growing up, I was really the one that was putting together our vacation experiences. And I didn’t realize how much pressure I was putting on myself until one gnarly Disney experience. And I’ll tell you, this was incredibly, incredibly eye-opening. It was a situation where I had planned every single detail to the minute of how we were going to spend our time because you really have to decide.
You have to sign up for a lot of things and it was going to be the most wonderful experience. And that first evening, it got so horrible, the way that the tickets and the plan for the concert and the waiting in line, it was so horrible that my husband marched our family back to the ticket desk and got our money back.
I was mortified, but what I realized is he did a beautiful thing because they had set me up the way that this ticket worked – and I’ve nothing against Disney, by the way, they’re fabulous in giving dream vacations, but in this situation, all this pressure I put on myself, we were rushing ourselves through everything, I didn’t give myself any gaps for how we were just going to enjoy the fireworks or enjoy getting to the show or enjoying dinner. And it was just a nightmare.
And I think we can do that to ourselves all the time if we set our expectations on how it should go or if you’re the one that’s responsible or if you’re the working parent and it could be both of you and this is just the first time you’ve taken a breath. So wherever you’re coming from, the way that you look at vacation, my goal for you in this podcast is to get the most out of it without robbing yourself out of any momentum towards your health or by even robbing yourself of enjoyment because you’re trying to be really good while you’re on vacation. Let’s throw that out the window.
There’s no good or bad. If you know me long enough, there is no good or bad food. Food is to be enjoyed and vacations are definitely a place where we, with the right perspective, we can really come home restored. Alright, so I think that there are some really important things to pack.
What to pack? And that’s the beginning, right. And it’s really the first thing I think is intention. Set your mind on what you want to get out of your vacation. Even if there are other people involved, I want you to set some time aside to think about what you want to get out of it. Is it that you just cannot wait to spend time with your spouse or your partner?
Is it that you cannot wait to enjoy time with your friends? Is it visiting family and there’s just one special person in this reunion that you’re going to that you want to make sure you connect with? Is it just an adventure and you can’t wait to try some new things?
So by packing your intention – and what I mean by that is by really deciding what you want to get out of it, you’re going to set your mind in a beautiful way. And believe me, every time you do that, your brain will figure out – you will figure out – as you make decisions, how to make it happen for you.
So if your intention is to really get rest, you’re going to give yourself permission to nap. If your intention is to have adventure, you’re going to look for those opportunities when you’re there. So set your mind on what you want to get out of the trip and let your mind go to work on planning that for you.
And I want to share a small example of how this has been working for me in my life so you understand what I mean. Every day in the journal that I’ve been working in, I set an intention of what [I 0:08:20.4] my self-care looks like for the day. And that’s wrapped up in everything for me.
So self-care, for me, could be maintaining a commitment to do something in my business. Another self-care would be really getting a sweaty workout because I haven’t been to the gym and I’m just agitated physically and need it. But what’s fascinating is I look back on those intentions and it could be just to relax a little bit in my business or, you know, anything else; words come up, plans come up.
But what’s really exciting is when I’ve done that in a daily fashion, I look back and I think about two thirds of those intentions were met. So set your mind to what you want to get out of your vacation. Next, bring what is working for you now with you on vacation. Bring the tools.
If you’ve learned the hunger scale with me, if you’re getting more in-tune with mindful eating, take that with you. I can’t think – I’ve been coaching a client that’s going to Italy and I’m so excited for her because I think the way that they look at food in Italy is so different than here and it’s so fresh and so amazing and so available and each region has its own special way of doing food. And the hospitality there is so on steroids, right, in such a beautiful way, that I can see that she might – and this might be jumping ahead a little bit – but that she’s going to have an opportunity to be mindful because the environment itself is going to lend it to it.
But she also knows that she knows that she loves eating only to slight fullness. She doesn’t love being overly full and she loves eating her fuel foods, so she’s going to watch that sugar and flour because those are body triggers for her. And take with you what’s working for you now. If you know you love protein in the morning and you’re going to a region of the world that eats pastries every morning, certainly have a treat on one of those days but look for the opportunities to get an egg once in a while or put some things in your room that work for you.
Your tools, the things that work for you now, should go with you every day of your life. It really – bottom line, it’s enjoy the experience, the vacation, and certainly enjoy the food, but let your food be a little boring – maybe that’s not true of Italy, right, correct me here, but if you’re just going away to another family’s home or you’re visiting family or you’re going to another city in the states, take those mindful eating tools with you.
And if you need a reminder, April was all about mindful eating, and just listen to even just one of those podcasts and choose one tool that will work for you and I just guarantee that your vacation, in terms of fuel, will not go off the rails.
I want to share a success story that I experienced by working with a client during the summer. It was really a couple of years ago – a bit executive and took a lot of vacations in the summer when his kids were out of school. And for the first time in his life, he did not gain weight during the vacation.
And it was – and I think this really what the seed for me of planning this podcast – because he really leaned into that he knew he didn’t love drinking as much as he knew the environment was going to be. And he was curious, “How am I going to handle this?”
And he went with an open mind and gave himself space to just experience it in the way that was best and how he wanted and he realized he could sip on a beer all afternoon instead of having three and then being so tired at night or being kind of checked out, that he really enjoyed handling alcohol in that way. So definitely decide what works with you now is going to be what will work with you on vacation.
Take a little bit of that with you. Pack those mindful eating tools and take them with you. And that goes for exercise too. Remember to pack the – and I’m using this analogy of packing because I don’t want you to feel like you need to over-plan. But as you’re deciding and as you’re setting your mind to those days away, if walking works for you, if you’re craving getting some hikes in and you know you’re going to an area where you can do that, make sure you put some time on the calendar to do that.
If you’re vacationing with people that are quite sedentary, look into a place to work out. If you really want to stay moving in the way that is, again, working for you now, make sure you pack the right clothes and pack the expectation of looking into ways that you can move there. One of the things that I take with me on every vacation is the app, the MINDBODY App.
And I look into functional workout places because I love those and I may not do it as much as I do when I’m home in Atlanta, but what I found, for me, is I don’t lose that strength and I don’t lose that aerobic ability if I sign up for a couple of functional workouts – you know, those that keep you moving. It really is aerobic and muscle at the same time, strength at the same time. Those really work for me. I can get two or three of those in and it really works.
But what is it for you? Will you miss yoga when you’re gone? And will you miss the healthy walks that you’ve been doing in the morning? Remember to plan to do those. And it may take a little change in thinking. When I go away, I get a little uncomfortable because I don’t know the roads. And I’ve just helped myself switch this around in getting bold.
When I was running, I would literally save on Runkeeper the runs I did. And that was part of my souvenir was running in neighborhoods where I knew I could kind of locate myself and be able to go back and forth and really enjoyed doing something that I loved every day at home, but now I was doing it in a very new location.
So remember, take with you, in terms of healthy habits, take with you those things that work for you here with you on vacation. Now, this last little packing is going to sound too cute but remember to pack you for this vacation.
What do I mean by that? I know, for me, and I know it’s true of so many fast starts, so many high-functioning people, the people I love working with that are listening; if you are a top performer, I want you to remind yourself, as you pack, to take you with you. It sounds so corny.
What I’m getting at is be present. Be there. Be in the moment. If you need to get a meditation app for the mornings, if you need to get quiet with coffee on the deck where you’re staying, take a breath in the morning to discharge all the tension from working so hard, the tension of all of the preparing for vacation. Take you with you.
Don’t race through that vacation and not experience it. If you need more help on being present, I think the morning routine podcast is perfect. This is where you just get quiet, set some intentions in the morning. It is a beautiful time to journal what you’re grateful for, especially on vacation because there’s probably more and more things. But remember, when you’re present during your vacation, be very focused on the conversations at hand. Really enjoy with your eyes, your ears, your taste-buds – especially if you’re in Italy. Can you tell I might be craving an Italy vacation? Take that with you and be present.
Notice what’s around you. Slow down. If there’s anything more important to take with you on your vacation, it’s to provide some space in your planning so you just can enjoy it. I’m going to share a fun memory and this what I mean; I was really privileged to spend a full 10 days in a chateau.
We won it at an event in Atlanta and went with another couple. And we had a lot of space; we could even drive this little car – I learned to drive a stick-shift – on the grounds. It was so fun and it was an opportunity for me to be, again, very present. And what was so fun – we toured very heavy on days and drove, but there were two or three days we just did nothing.
And one of those shopping days, my husband shopped fervently for charcoal pencils and the next day was Father’s Day and the women, we stopped shopping, we let the guys do whatever they wanted and both of them wanted to draw. And I will never ever forget that day; I’m really emotional about it.
We are at the chateau and I just walked all day around the grounds. I took pictures of my husband sketching and both of those men came home with sketches of the chateau. One was so – they were so different and we actually both framed each other’s prints, our original prints and a picture of the other person’s print. And I’ll never forget, Grant and my husband Jacques getting a chance to just do art all day.
They were in heaven. And we packed a picnic – I think even that day, we raced to the tunnel, the bridge, over where the TGV, the speed train came, and we watched and felt that train go under us. That, my friends, is being present on your vacation.
Take you with you. Be very present. You will have memories that are so full that you can remember. It won’t be the perfect Disney night that you planned, like I tried, right. It will be the moment when it blows up and you remember how amazing your husband is that he knew how important it was and went back and got our money back so we felt better about it. Believe me, we had a great vacation the rest of the weekend.
So set your intention, pack your intentions, pack your mindfulness and all those things that you know work for you. And I’m even speaking not about mindful eating. If you’re an introvert, remember to plan some time alone. That would be a tool that you’d want to take with you, right. What works at home, you know you need some space, tale that with you.
So set intention, take with you what you know works for you and take yourself with you. Take being present as the goal on your vacation and I have a little list of what to leave at home.
Leave judgment home. Stop judging your eating behavior. If you do all the other things, set an intention, take some tools with you and be really present, there’s not a lot of room for judgment. And I am talking about food behavior because I want this to be of support to people that feel really disrupted with vacation.
And if you need more support, really, do go to the food tools in April, lay those down as a practice and take those with you on vacation. But it really is dropping the judgment. Stop judging how your father behaves. You know how he is and you’re on vacation with him and let it go. Don’t judge how you react. If you’re upset about something, take some space. Leave judgment at home and leave perfect expectations.
I think I’ve covered that pretty well but I do think that we build up, like, this huge, “Oh my god, this vacation is going to be so amazing.” And sometimes, that first delayed plane flight, we can let that ruin the entire vacation. Don’t do it. Stay present, ask some better questions in those moments. “Okay, what is good about this?” Even though it feels really rotten, your luggage is lost…
I will share one more story. My brother’s luggage was lost for two days while we were in Italy. And I know it was uncomfortable for him and he didn’t have a lot of clothes, obviously, but we really – we didn’t do a lot away from the villa because he didn’t really want to go out to eat and such. And guess what – that was a time when we learned to play – I think we played Bunco, we played dominoes, we started singing at the table. Oh my god, it was amazing.
So what would have happened if he was all ready to roll every day and we always felt like we had to plan something? So look for opportunities but watch your own perfectionism as you look at your vacation. Leave perfectionism at home. If you need to extra help here, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown will help you there.
Alright, the last but not least, work. Leave work at home – and I mean 100%. If you can, leave work at home fully. It is going to all be okay, whether you’re a solo-preneur, whether you are a big exec, whether you work for a large group, that time of clearing your head will serve your business in a way that you just can’t imagine.
So if you take my challenge of 100% work away, you’re going to want the next podcast because that’s what I am designing here. If we allow our brains these total breaks on vacation and see the power of that, you will learn to do it in the mini-moments.
And that, my friends, is your preview for next week. I am not even going to speak about the possibility of if you need to work while you’re away. I’m going to give you the challenge of 100% away from work, but if you do have to work a little bit in the mornings, cut off the time. Make sure that your spouse and those that are with you understand that this just is necessary. I know that this helped my husband a lot.
We had a ten-day vacation in St John’s, so the time-zone wasn’t very different and we just had an agreement. We’d meet for breakfast – it was awesome, we’d wake up and whoever woke up first would save the table and it didn’t matter if we both weren’t there at the same time. We’d go down to the ocean and watch the sun come up if we were up that early. And I knew that he would go back and work for a couple of hours on email and I gave him total permission to do it.
I used to resent it, by the way. This used to be the drama on vacation. That is for another day; I have another story. But this was when I gave him total space. And giving yourself space and even your spouse asking for that space, if that gives you the opportunity to be really present the rest of the vacation, honor it.
And then, go all in. The minute you’ve done those two hours, work is going to be fine, just fully sink into your day. And you know what served me, like I had to give him permission – he was going to do this anyway. He needed to. When I did and gave him that permission, I had the most beautiful learning times. I read a lot.
I usually take about five books on vacation. Thank god for Kindle. And I was able to dig deep and really be restored. So those times alone were actually really beneficial for me because I wasn’t scowling that he was in the room doing email. So do you see – this is also available to you.
So pack your intentions, set your mind in the way you’d like to go, bring with you your tools, the things that you know work for you in all areas of your life, mental and physical health, and be present. Take yourself with you; be present in every moment and that vacation will feel like the longest most beautiful vacation you’ve ever had. And leave at home all judgment, all perfect expectations. Take the boulder off your shoulder that it’s supposed to be perfect and leave work at home.
That, my friends, is packing for the best vacation ever. Alright, I hope you enjoyed this podcast. It’s a little different. I got a little corny here with the analogies, but if you know me, that’s just kind of how I roll. And usually they’re food analogies, so you can be glad I didn’t go on and on with those. So see you next week and be in touch.
I have some amazing events coming up. If you would like to be invited, you have got to be on my newsletter list. And if you’d like that, just send me an email and you can drop me any time you like, but I have a lot going on – a workshop, a week of free training and an amazing program that’s going to be starting in August.
So if you don’t want to miss those invitations, please send me an email and I’ll get you on the list or opt-in on the first page. I love you guys. Thanks so much for listening and I’ll see you next time.
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