I've witnessed a pattern - and for some it's a dangerous game. Break your routine (vacation, business trip, etc.) and suddenly it's OK to eat a large deep-dish meat lover's pizza with a bottle of wine, order the chocolate cheesecake and call it quits on exercise. For most people, this equates to a couple of unwanted pounds. For others, it knocks them hard down a slippery slope.

What is it about "vacation" (or any break from routine) that tells us it's OK to throw in the towel? Behaviors we wouldn't even consider last week are now permissible. We go from meticulously tracking our food and religiously getting in our five days a week of exercise to wanton consumption and lazy inactivity.

Do you abandon your toothbrush on vacation? Wear dirty clothes? Forget to wash your hair? Of course not. Then why so quick to abandon a healthy lifestyle? I think I've figured it out.

Not everyone comes back from vacation with an extra 10 pounds (with or without accompanying guilt). Just like not everyone heads into vacation thinking, "Woohoo, I got me a license to cut-loose!"

What I figured out is this: Your mindset before vacation dictates your mindset during vacation. Seems obvious, but hang on. If you've been living a life of denial and punishing deprivation, you're more likely to embrace vacation as a chance to live like you really want to, not like you have been.

The problem deepens when I think about a person's "food vocabulary." There are some things we all agree are not food: Bermuda grass, lumber, dung, etc. Sure, some critters consider these tasty treats but not us. Moving up "the chain," things start to blur. Some people consider corn dogs "food" and others wouldn't touch one. Someone who wouldn't consider eating a corn dog won't look for one on vacation. But someone who likes corn dogs but has given them up "to lose weight" will seek them out - because deep down, "corn dog" is still part of their food vocabulary. Their attitude toward the corn dog has been one of deprivation.

That was my "eureka" moment. People who change their lifestyle for long-term health don't have as much trouble when they break their routine. While those trying to achieve health through deprivation go on vacation excited to eat everything they've been missing accompanied by lazy inactivity.

If you are one to just hang it up when your routine is broken, do some thinking on what you're thinking. Until you change your attitude toward food and activity, those wonderful lifestyle gains won't last. Life is forever going to derail you and disrupt your routine. Without the mental change, you are doomed to the life of a yo-yo.

NSCA certified personal trainer Shannon Sorrels holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry and an MBA. Her company, Physix LLC, works with Valley individuals as well as groups to improve their overall fitness. Reach her at (480) 528-5660 or visit www.azphysix.com.


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