Maintaining Balance on Vacation, A Two-Parter

Life doesn’t stop just because you’re on vacation. You might get to ignore the emails and messages, but your body is still your body and your health & wellness still deserve attention.

I returned recently from a 5-day vacation to Nebraska. I know, right? Who vacations in Nebraska? Well, when you have good friends getting married in Lincoln and your best friend lived in Omaha for years, you do.

That’s exactly what happened — close friends held a beautiful wedding ceremony and reception on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, so I spent two days hopping around that cute little town. Loves: cheap whiskey! Actually, cheap everything – it is so much cheaper to eat and drink in Lincoln (and Omaha) than it is in Portland! This is unsurprising, but it was awesome.

creighton university

After the wedding, I spent 2 days in Omaha, where my best friend went to college (Creighton University). He showed me all of his old haunts and basically How to Be a Tourist in Omaha. It was the first and probably only vacation I’ll get this year, so I made the most of it. We walked all over the city, spent an entire half-day with our fellow from-Portland friends at the famous Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, walked the pedestrian bridge that shares a border between Nebraska and Iowa, saw Oceans 8 at a $2 movie theater, and hit all of the coffee shops and dive bars that we could.

bob kerry bridge

Since life doesn’t stop while we’re on vacation, I had to commit to intentional choices and mindfulness around two specific goals: stay healthy and stay grounded. I battled a lot of internal anxiety on the trip (this comes in cycles for me and July is almost always one of those times I really feel it). Determined to a) not feel like shit by eating and drinking too much, and 2) not feel like shit from being a ball of cortisol for five days straight, here’s what I did to stay grounded and balanced over these five days:

Part One: Maintaining Healthy Habits on Vacation While Not Overthinking It

  1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. This is always my first rule for everything. I brought a water bottle with me and I refilled it when I could. Here in Portland, when you go out to eat, getting a glass of water as soon as you sit at the table is a given. Not in Nebraska. We had to remember to ask for water, but we made sure to just about every time.
  2. Walk! So much walking. We walked to and from the wedding ceremony. We walked to and from the bars and restaurants and antique shops in Lincoln. We walked all OVER Omaha, including about 5 miles at the Zoo alone. Bring good shoes, check that FitBit or whatever app tracks your steps, and get those steps in.
  3. Stretch. I stretched in airports, on street corners, and in hotel rooms.
  4. Balance. But don’t be too strict. I followed a pretty decent 80/20 (maybe 70/30) rule for food choices. The first thing I got to eat when I got off the plane was a veggie heavy veggie sandwich from an Omaha coffee shop. This just felt like it set the tone for me. From there, I just tried to find balance. We’d share pretzel bites and a big salad. I took myself out for dinner alone one night and enjoyed an Omaha steak with fresh, local green beans. I made sure the diner breakfast I chose had a bunch of veggies and protein. We snacked on fruit and nuts, but had hot dogs & nachos at the zoo. This one isn’t too hard for me because after a carb-rich meal or two, I am CRAVING plants, so I’ll seek them out.

Part Two: Managing Anxiety on Vacation AKA Staying Present Will Save You

  1. Admit you’re feeling anxious. “Are you ok?” “No, but that’s ok.” I had this conversation a few times, and I tried to stay honest when I really wasn’t okay.
  2. Breathe. I exhaled a LOT. TM teaches that noticing giant exhales during meditation is a sign of stress leaving the body, so hopefully that means I got rid of a lot of stress. I took a lot of deep breaths. I had to take breaks every once in awhile to sit or stand still, take a few deep breaths, and then continue on.
  3. Play. There was a carousel at the Zoo and I bee-lined for it the second I saw it. Channeling that inner child brought moments of joy. Watching grown-ass human adults on brightly-colored horses and chickens and dinosaurs made me laugh. Even if short, these little moments of joy can help shake off the tension, even for a second.
  4. Move. Even when I didn’t feel like it, I danced. Built up adrenaline needs a place to go, so every once in awhile, I’d just shake it out, or twirl, or jump up and down.
  5. Use your tools. For me, this includes medication sometimes. I made the choice to feel my way through the discomfort first, because some of my triggers are messages from my body and my mind about changes I really do need to make. Actions I do need to take. So, I’d allow myself to feel the discomfort. Once, I grabbed my notebook and a pen and a beer and sat in a bar and just wrote for a few minutes, trying to get the mess out of my head. But once or twice, I relied on the fact that I have a prescription that can jump in and take over when meditation, writing, moving, playing, and other attempts at chilling out just don’t cut it. And that’s ok, that’s why we have a whole tool box.
  6. Know your difference between mood and mental health. I was in a great mood, the entire trip. I loved playing tourist, I laughed, and explored with my usual wide-eyed excitement at seeing the world. I was happy. But, there was an outer layer of anxiety over me the whole time — a persistent sense of tension and heaviness that co-existed with the fun. That’s entirely possible.

What’s next for me?

I’m home now, so I return to the things that I know ground and re-ground me. I need to work out hard to give the adrenaline a place to go and move the cortisol out of my body. I need to replace those stress hormones with endorphins. I do yoga to remind myself to stay present and remember who I am. I’ll meditate to stay in communion with the divine around me and for the reminder that I am one and the same with the rest of the world around me. And I’ll get to work.

The pictures I posted on my trip are the things I want to remember — the way clouds move over Midwestern skies, my best friend’s favorite spaces, playing tourist in hidden passageways and arcades, and the way jellyfish move (aquariums are so cool!). But we all know that what we post isn’t always the whole picture, and my whole picture includes admitting that I struggled through my own anxiety the whole time.

Life doesn’t take vacations when we do, so I believe we have to learn how to create and cultivate habits that we can pack with us when we go, so we can stay healthy and grounded especially when we’re not in our familiar spaces.

How do you manage your ‘baggage’ when you travel, when you’re out of your comfort zone? I’d love to hear from you.

It’s Official! I’m a Certified Health Coach!

UPDATE: Group Coaching Enrollment is now open!

Well, we made it!

As of Tuesday, I have officially earned my certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. What’s that mean? I’m a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach!

What’s a health coach, anyway?

A Health Coach is a supportive mentor and wellness professional helping clients feel their best through sustainable, realistic food & lifestyle changes by tailoring individualized wellness programs to each and every client.

My approach to holistic health is that we are more than the number of smoothie bowls we eat or number of times per week we make it to the gym. Our holistic health includes our relationships, job satisfaction, financial security, spiritual practices, and so! much! more!

We’re not holistically healthy when we’re stressed or unhappy, when our needs for friendship and companionship aren’t met, when feel undervalued in our work or community. My job as a Holistic Health Coach is to look at and beyond food and fitness for an integrative approach to true health and happiness.

How I Work With Clients

Right now, there are two main ways I work with and help my clients.

1:1 Coaching

I offer one-on-one coaching in both 3- and 6-month programs for individuals who want to create an overall sense of balance and wellness in their lives, have a few specific goals they’re trying to meet and need that extra boost of accountability and support, and who feel fine but are ready to feel amazing.

To find out if this type of coaching is right for you, I offer a free, 30-minute Health History Consultation where we quickly chat about where you’re at right now, where you want to be, and whether or not working with a health coach is the way to get there.

What’s included in 1:1 coaching?

  • a fully customized & tailored health & wellness program specifically for YOU, your lifestyle, and your goals
  • 12 1-hour bi-weekly calls where we discuss your progress, obstacles, and next steps & goals
  • access to resources, worksheets, and other supporting materials
  • unlimited accountability and support from a fully certified holistic health coach
  • frequent and consistent reviews of goals and progress, with opportunities to pivot and re-align where necessary

Click here to book that free consultation.

Group Coaching

I am currently pre-enrolling for my first group coaching program, which I opened up first to my newsletter subscriber list. Tomorrow, (Friday, July 13), I will open that enrollment up to the public. This inaugural 6-month program is called Bring It Into Balance, and it mirrors the type of coaching I offer to my 1:1 clients, but in a more structured format and in a group setting for added accountability and connection.

This is a great option if you want to test the waters of working with a coach, if your main goal is overall balance and wellness, and if you’re not quite ready to make the financial investment of a 1:1 program.

What are the benefits of a group program? Well, over 6-months, we will:

  • examine 12 important areas of a holistically healthy lifestyle,
  • set (& crush!) specific, actionable goals — together!
  • commune with like-minded individuals who are on a similar path of creating balance & harmony in their lives because there is so much power in community,
  • do all of this with the support, guidance, & accountability of a certified Holistic Health Coach (that’s me!).

I have over $200 worth of bonus materials planned for this course, including the opportunity for each participant to get a full 1:1 hour of coaching with me during the program.

In a nutshell? It’s gonna be good.

Beyond the coaching programs, I will be building up and out a number of other resources such as books and digital courses, and you can follow along:

As I build this business, I’d love to know how I can help YOU. Do you have any questions about what it’s like to work with a health coach? I worked with my own Integrative Health Coach for a full year and made a number of sustainable changes: I lost (and kept off!) 15 pounds, I increased my credit score by over 35 points, and I played with a few different dietary theories that I’d always wanted to check out, leading to overall sustained change in healthy eating habits. In short, it changed my life and I’m excited to pay that forward. My current clients are:

  • setting (and reaching) big financial goals
  • understanding and establishing boundaries and expectations in their relationships
  • learning how to make small, but impactful changes to their daily diet for more energy and focus
  • utilizing tools they already have to implement sustainable habit-change in their every day lives
  • overcoming limiting beliefs about what is and isn’t possible for their most fulfilling lives

Stay tuned — tomorrow I’ll open up enrollment for the group program, but if you know you want in, you can leave a comment here or send me an email and I’ll put you first on the list!