September 6, 2011

No physical labor on Labor Day?

I found it ironic that for the Labor Day holiday, the day that I had free to actually toil away at the gym all day if I wanted to… the gym was closed. Well, not closed, but all classes canceled – which for my purposes was basically the same thing.

I’ll admit that part of my frustration came from the fact that I had purchased a one month membership to a fancy schmancy gym through a group buying site and this was the last weekend of my membership. I wasn’t going to heckle the gym about closing for Hurricane Irene, but I sure as heck was annoyed that while they would keep the gym open, they canceled all the classes that made going to the gym fun. I usually can’t go to any of the Monday classes, being off on assignments in Charlottesville or Dallas, and I was excited about the chance to try some of the classes that didn’t appear anywhere else on the schedule. Unfortunately for my plan, there were no classes being held on Labor Day.

While some people choose to take holidays as days of rest, for me, vacations are exactly when I want to catch up on all the workouts I don’t have time to squeeze into my busy life. When I start considering vacation destinations, one of the first things I do is figure out how I’m going to fit exercise/being active into my plans. It used to be easy – my vacations were planned around marathon destinations. But now that I’m taking a break from marathoning, that doesn’t work.

Instead, I look for places where I can go hiking or horseback riding in between sips of daiquiris on the beach. I plan ski trips where I can guzzle beer and chow down on hearty comfort food after a tiring day on the slopes. Some may call it eating disordered, but I don’t enjoy a vacation nearly as much when I know I’m going to get home 10 pounds heavier than when I left. That’s not relaxing to me; in fact, that’s stressful.

I think we should attempt to live every day in a balanced way. Do I skip workouts some weekdays when I’m swamped? Of course. And do I skip workouts some vacation days/weekends when there are other things I decide I’d rather do? You bet. But when I’m on vacation, it often affords me the opportunity to squeeze in activities that I wouldn’t otherwise get to try. I still would count my experience last year running a half marathon on the deck of my cruise ship at sunrise as one of the coolest and most beautiful places I’ve ever run.

One of my favorite blogs, Greatist, recently did a great post on how whether vacation makes us happier. The studies they cited noted that planning the trip is often more enjoyable than actually going on the trip, and that “while to-be vacationers might have a higher level of happiness before their trip compared to those staying at home, there was little difference in happiness levels between the two groups after the vacation.” However, what I’d like to see is a study that shows how people who exercised on their vacation felt at the end, vs how people who laed around felt. Call me Type A, but I like being productive (even on vacation), and all those exercise endorphins just feel great!


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