The great mystery: You went on a vacation, ate ice cream on the beach, drank sugar-loaded cocktails every night, and you came back five pounds lighter.
How did that happen?
No, it doesn’t mean you should come back and throw all your health habits out the window. And no, it doesn’t mean you should take a cruise every weekend to get thin. So what does it mean?
Based on our culture of “slashing calories” and “shedding pounds,” this phenomenon is a complete anomaly. I mean, you’re pounding calories and dramatically reducing exercise. That should make you pile on extra fat, right? But based on what researchers and nutritionists know about health and weight, the weight loss actually makes a lot of sense.
There are three reasons your lazy lifestyle on vacation actually makes you lose weight.
Lower stress levels
When you go on vacation, you’re taking a break — not only from your health habits, but also from your stress. Your adrenal glands get a breather (finally) and shut off their panic mode. They allow your body to fall more in sync with your natural rhythm and your health.
Cortisol, the main stress hormone in your body, gets taken down a level in your bloodstream, which can have a pivotal effect on your behavior, metabolism, and overall health. Often, weight gain occurs due to increased cortisol levels in the body. So it makes sense that reducing the stress hormones racing through your system allows those extra pounds to fall off.
You’re not exercising
If you’re a frequent exerciser, taking time off from the gym can actually result in more weight loss than overdoing it. When you rest your muscles, they recover and have time to build back up. This is why rest days are so essential — but if you’re living a fast-paced, busy lifestyle, even your rest days could be strenuous.
When you’re lying on the beach or chilling in a cabana all day, your muscles finally get the time they’ve been craving to recover. Having larger muscles burns more fat — hence, you have a higher probability of weight loss.
You allow yourself to eat the foods you crave
Dieting doesn’t work. At this point, if you don’t know that, then you’ve been living in serious denial. So what should you do to be healthier, if not diet?
Through extensive research, intuitive eating and letting go of all food rules and restrictions has shown the greatest health benefits in the long run — no matter your current weight. When you go on vacation, that’s exactly what you do. You eat when you’re hungry and you stop when you’re full. You let go of all the dieting rules and just let yourself eat and drink freely. No points, no calories, no macros. Just food.
It may seem counterintuitive, but it works. It’s a safe bet that you feel those benefits, too, as well as see them on the scale.