“The Cabin”

It’s the middle of summer – when most people tend to accept the beach bod they’ve earned and just get out there to enjoy the weather. If you live in Minnesota, chances are summer means spending as much of your free time at “the cabin” as possible.

That means less structured exercise, more drinks, more junk food, and less “health food”. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of these things. After all, if you stay sane through the MN winters, you deserve to treat yourself and relax a bit more when it is actually nice outside.

If you’re lucky enough to spend time at the cabin with friends and family, you may run across some people I like to call instigators. These are the folks who believe calories don’t count on weekends and that when you build muscle or cardiovascular endurance, it doesn’t regress when you take days off (for some cabin-goers, days off = about 1/3 of their summer). They look like my good pal Allen here:


And once Allen gets the group going, enter stage left with grilled goods for all, Uncle Steve:


Along with your youngest cousin Jimmy who seems to never run out of chips:


If you frequent the cabin and hope to keep your health goals intact throughout the summer and also want to find a way to enjoy yourself without being that “health freak” everyone in your family glares at, try to focus on these 4 things:

  1. Drink as much water as you normally do. This seems to prove difficult when most of your time is spent in the water and under the sun, and often times away from your usual environment. Normal hydration can help keep you from thinking you’re hungry (as you hang out next to the table full of chips and bars) when you’re really just thirsty.
  2. Include veggies/plants every day. This doesn’t need to be every meal, let’s not get carried away. Just a couple servings of veggies or some other fiber-containing plants a day will do. Try grill-friendly varieties that will pair well with the rest of the meal like zucchini, sweet potatoes, corn on the cob, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, or asparagus. Toss them straight on the grill or cover them completely with tinfoil, some olive oil and whatever herbs/spices/seasonings you wish.
  3. Include protein in each meal (and snack, if possible). One main reason is protein is satiating, so it’ll keep you satisfied between meals and further away from snacking on chips and cookies a majority of the day.
  4. Plan your exercise schedule around the time you’ll be gone. If you don’t have any exercise equipment at your cabin (like dumbbells, resistance bands, etc.), plan your weekend days to not include lifting, but instead plan for other “exercise” activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, water skiing, hiking, etc. that will work different muscles that you can’t really replicate in the gym. Staying somewhat active, even if that just includes chores (chopping wood by hand/moving rocks is about as tough as a cabin workout gets) will help you hold onto those exercise benefits you’ve been working on the past several months.

“The Vacation”

Traveling further away than just the cabin is quite similar. In my eyes, the most important things to consider while traveling or taking a vacation is to plan your meals (whether that’s packing your own or knowing where you’re able to eat), packing snacks, and drinking enough water.

While planning what you’re going to eat any certain day, consider:

  • Checking restaurant menus ahead of time in the area you’re going
  • Eating a larger than normal healthy meal (think 1-2 servings of lean protein, 3-4 servings of veggies, and 2-3 servings of a healthy fat) before going out on a day trip or to any destination where the food choices are unknown

Know when and where you’re going to eat that day so you don’t end up famished at the exact moment you walk by a conjoined chilidog and ice cream stand.

Planning transitions right into packing snacks.

Pack filling and nutritious snacks that last all day without going bad or getting crushed in a bag such as raw nuts, apples, carrots or protein bars. If you find yourself in between meals or can’t find a place to eat a decent meal, then you’ll be prepared with something to hold you over until you can find a good option. Not only that, but you’ll save money by not buying usually over-priced goodies that are the norm on any vacation that won’t provide you with very much nutrition or satiety.

Lastly, drinking enough water especially applies to traveling. It’s so easy to forget to bring enough water when you’re going to go on a walk around an area you’ve never seen before, go on a lengthy tour, take a hike, or anything else you prefer to do while traveling. By the end of a typical vacation/travel day, you’re likely going to be dehydrated if you don’t plan ahead. I don’t go anywhere without a water bottle and I even find this happening to me once in a while when traveling. If it happens to someone who is used to drinking about 200 ounces of water per day, my guess is you’ve had trouble with it too.