This title should tell you I was a Bernstein Bears fan growing up. My dad read these books to me so often that I still have many of them memorized. In fact, this very title was one of my favorites and now sits on a shelf in my little girl’s room.

The debate of how you pronounce Bernstein we will save for another time (I lived my whole life believing a lie). Vacation is good for the soul, but like anything, too much of a good thing — well you know how it goes.

With many of my clients, friends, family, heck, even myself, it’s hard to get back on track after a vacation. This could look like a week at the ocean, long weekend getaway, summer break with the kids, where a more relaxed schedule seems to seep into all aspects of your life or whatever feels like taking a step back, relaxing, hitting pause looks like to you.

I tell people to not spend so much time stressing about what you’re going to eat/maintaining your schedule/workout routine while on vacation. The whole point (or at least for me) of vacation is to relax.

Soak up that time with your loved ones, drink something with an umbrella in it without worrying about how much sugar is in it, eat a hushpuppy for crying out loud. Life is all about balance, and remember what we’ve talked about here before: Stress, no matter where it comes from, is not good for your body.

So, you took that time off, enjoyed a few too many ice cream cones, haven’t worked out/moved your body in a little while and now the motivation to resume that balance, well you’re just not feeling it. No fear!

Let’s talk about some simple steps to help you get back on that healthy living train.

MAKE A DATE WITH MOVEMENT

Getting back into the swing of physical fitness can be rough. Start out by taking/resuming a nightly walk with your family (your dog will appreciate it too), make a date with a friend to go walk or jog, check out our local fitness facilities group exercise classes and try something new, or get back to your favorite class. There is strength and accountability in numbers.

START YOUR MORNING WITH A SMOOTHIE

Maybe you’re not a smoothie fan (have you tried them?). I’m good with oats, peanut butter (or my personal favorite almond butter) and banana on whole wheat toast, a couple scrambled eggs and a healthy carb, something healthy that sets the tone for the rest of your day.

I’ve talked about how breakfast is the most important meal of the day and starting off your day in a healthy way is a great way to feel good about the choices you are making. I’m including (for those of you who may have missed it before) my go-to smoothie recipe below.

FOCUS ON PLANTS

While I love hushpuppies, shrimp burgers from the Shrimp Shack (if you are ever in Beaufort, South Carolina, it is a MUST), fries and ice cream on vacation all that beige doesn’t usually make me feel light and ready to tackle a run (food baby anyone?). Plants are filling, chock full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Your stomach and pants you put away for the summer will thank you.

FOCUS ON WATER

Cut WAY back on the sugary beverages and focus on water. No matter if it’s beer, wine, summer cocktails, sweet tea, soft drinks, fancy coffee drinks (I’m talking about you, Mocha Frappuccino, a.k.a. “caffeine milkshake”) switching to water is one of the fastest ways I see people lose weight.

When vacation and travel leave you bloated, dehydrated and you’re a little on the constipated side, focusing on drinking water/increasing your intake is a simple solution.

If you want to feel fancy or like you’re still sipping on something special, try a La Croix or water with a splash of lemon or lime. Serve it in a fancy glass, take your water bottle with you everywhere (Mother Earth will thank you too), whatever it takes to increase your H2O intake.

Remember, you should be aiming to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day.

MY GO-TO MORNING SMOOTHIE

  • ½ cup of water, coconut water or unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • 1 banana or about a cup of frozen fruit —I either buy unsweetened frozen fruit or freeze any fruit that’s in my house that might be on its last leg. A lot of times it’s the other half of a banana from my daughter’s breakfast.
  • a heaping handful of greens — kale, spinach, arugula, whatever is on sale. I like these best frozen as it gives the greens a less “earthy” taste. Do not be alarmed by the green color. I promise you cannot taste frozen spinach.
  • 1 tsp chia or ground flax (I often do a sprinkle of both)
  • 1 tbsp natural peanut butter, almond butter or your favorite veggie-based protein powder. Vega is a great one to try, lots of good stuff, no gross ingredients. Full disclosure I usually include both for staying power (especially on the mornings I run). If you are trying to be mindful of calories/ achieve healthy weight loss you could do one or the other, or a teaspoon of nut butter versus a tablespoon.
  • 1 pitted date for sweetness (optional). If you are making with a banana or “sweeter” tasting fruit like pineapple or mango I don’t think you always need the date for sweetness. If I make a smoothie with blueberries, I’ll add the date. Totally up to you.
  • a sprinkle of cinnamon (again optional but delicious and cinnamon has been shown to have numerous health benefits)

Directions: Throw everything in a blender and blend till smooth.

Most all of these ingredients listed above are just “eyeballed.” Feel free to mix it up, try different fruits and greens. I’m of the belief that more of fruits and veggies is always a good thing.

I use a Ninja my parents got me from Target a few years back. It’s the Nutri Ninja and when I did a little research while writing this article it seems you can get these for under $70 just about anywhere. Mine has taken a beating/everyday use (often multiple times a day as I will make sauces and smoothies with it) and its still ticking.

It’s certainly not a Vitamix (if someone wants to buy me one of these babies, my feelings won’t be hurt), but it gets the job done. You can also just drink your smoothie right out of the cup you blend in with a Ninja making it pretty convenient.

I top my smoothie with either some homemade or store-bought granola (Publix Greenwise makes some pretty yummy and affordable flavors) or a low sugar cereal (less than ten grams per serving) plus some cacao nibs for crunch (a must for me).

You might be asking what cacao nibs are. They are peeled and crumbled cacao beans, which taste like a crunchier version of a dark chocolate chip (if you like your chocolate on the darker/less sweet side you should give these a try). They are a good source of antioxidants and iron.

Starting your day with chocolate without the sugar always sounds like a good idea to me. You can find these at most grocery stores, and I’ve scored some great deals on Thrive Market (www.thrivemarket.com) or one of my most favorite places in the world, Trader Joe’s.

What I hope you take away from this are some simple steps to help get back on track after vacation — or anytime you feel like you’re not making choices that support a healthy lifestyle.

Please remember, though, that a healthy life is one of balance. Who wants to be boring and eat perfect and workout every single darn day of their life? Not this girl, not anymore.

As a recovering perfectionist (I’m a work in progress), I’ve spent too many vacations or special trips worrying about whether or not they can grill, not fry, my fish or if I can get up early enough to get a run in. What is the joy in that?

I certainly don’t want you to spend your entire trip stressing about these trivial things, either. Take a walk on the beach, maybe order grilled, not fried one night, but most importantly, enjoy your time away.

You’ve earned it.

Jessica Barnett is a Southwest Virginia girl married to a Greeneville native, a mom, personal trainer, certified fitness nutrition specialist, runner, herbivore and ice cream lover. Love Your Health is published every other Wednesday in Greene County’s Accent.