Holiday mindset and the working mum

Written by Gina Barlow (Bump to Beyond)


The summer holidays are almost upon us and whilst my brain is full of packing plans (I always take too much stuff!) I have also been thinking about holiday, rest and mindset around this.



It is an issue lots of people can worry about, especially if you are a working mum, juggling family life, desperate for a break and trying to exercise and eat well as part of your day to day life.

What does holiday mean to you?



See as a working mum of two boys, I constantly look to the horizon of a holiday , this year it will hopefully be a sunny beach where we can spend some much needed unplugged time away as a family, have a few drinks and relax! We are not all the same of course.


Do you see a holiday as a break away from home?

Time to experience new things? See places? Explore?

Or do you see it as being able to collapse in a heap and get some rest relaxation?

There isn’t a wrong answer to that – all sound pretty appealing to me just now – but depending on what you want out of your break it can help, especially if you are undertaking exercise, to understand your mindset about rest itself.


For a long time, I found taking a break from training and my usual dietary habits really tough. I had worked really hard to lose a lot of excess weight and the thought of not making my 3 gym sessions a week and having to eat food I wasn’t in control of really made me anxious. I worried that I would undo all of the work I had put in during the months prior to a holiday.


What have learned since, is that its actually possible to have a holiday away from home, enjoy yourself, have great food, drink and relax and not undo one single thing and in fact taking a rest is actually essential not just physically but psychologically as well!


Rest, fun and balance!


I am a big advocate for balance.

I honestly believe the results you want – whether aesthetically or for well-being and health need to be founded in realistic and manageable approaches that will see results but also help you build a lifestyle where what you do becomes your norm.

No fads, no strict diet no end to a 12-week programme but something you can happily roll on without much fuss.

Life is too short to worry about every little thing and I firmly believe that life, food and exercise should be enjoyed!

My approach is to encourage great habits that are built around you and your life.

The last thing you need with exercise and health to be is another thing you have to schedule so much time and brainpower around. This effort alone makes things less likely to stick with and a yo-yo effect occurs!

So, let’s break down some common worries ladies I work with have about holidays so that the dreaded “I will have to start again and just be good when I am back from my holiday” mindset can be a thing of the past!

If I take days off to rest I will lose all the muscle tone I’ve gained!?


I can relate to this personally and if you have built a routine around training sessions, it can be daunting to suddenly find yourself with some enforced rest days.

When it comes to rest Shannon Clarke CPT via states:

“Rest is one component of a good workout plan that is often overlooked. Many people simply do not realize just how imperative rest is and the role it plays in moving you forward.” (1)

There are numerous reasons for this but she goes on to describe the main areas as follows:

“Rest assists with the recovery process. You break your muscles down when you’re in the gym and it’s when you’re out of the gym that those muscles will actually grow stronger. Those who fail to get enough rest will go into the gym and continuously break their muscle tissues down further and further, impacting the strength gains they’re able to make.” (1)

We also know that rest is “critical to maintaining your motivation levels.” (1)

Relentless days of the same old thing will do little to motivate you to be engaged and have fun, something essential to mindset around exercise!

Now if you are someone that likes the activity exercise brings, let’s not forget that there are easy ways to keep activity levels up without a gym but instead of calling it ‘exercise’, when on holiday think of it more as “active rest” (1) I love this terminology!

What is active rest?


Shannon Clarke defines this as “rest that gets you up and moving around but still doesn’t tax the body in any way.”


On holiday this can be a stroll down the beach, a paddle in the pool or playing a ball game with your kids.

These are all types of active rest that can help improve recovery without causing you to end up with an overtraining effect. So if you want total relaxation, take it! (you do not have to tell me twice!)


Or if you want to feel as if you are still exercising, think of a more active rest approach to your break, focus on the fun and the benefits just come as a welcome side effect!

I can’t have drinks and eat what I want? Some holiday!



I am not going to launch into a lecture about the do’s and don’ts of food and drink on holiday as I actually believe that a holiday should be just that.

Have fun and try new foods, don’t sit there calculating your macro’s and try to scan everything you find into my fitness pal!

That being said, I understand that diet can be a real minefield if you want to stay on track without worry on holiday. If you want some guidance around food choices on holiday, think about these useful tips to help you keep up the good habits whilst enjoying yourself – win-win in my book!



1) Remember the Eatwell plate!

If you’ve not heard of this, check it out via this link from the British Heart Foundation:

This guide is literally about what your plate should look like. Simple, easy to follow and very useful when at the buffet on holiday! – No lectures on not being allowed to eat this or that, simply a guide about balance.

2) Don’t deprive yourself!


If you want to have an ice cream, have one! This doesn’t mean indulge in an all you can eat ice cream session, but don’t say no to a cone of ice cream with your kids.

Eat it, enjoy, play with them on the beach. It’s about proportion and balance. If you don’t eat a little of what you fancy there’s a pretty good chance you’ll binge at some point down the line!

3) Enjoy a drink!


If you do want to drink on holiday then do! Again, keep it proportional (and responsible of course!) and if you want to choose lower calorie options then the Whole food challenge gives some useful tips at their website:

The key to maintaining results and keeping going is to have fun along the way.

Have a great summer holiday season and enjoy yourselves!








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