This post comes from my lovely wife, Ellie, who apparently snuck a lot of the caramel chewy bars when no one was looking. Enjoy!

It’s time for the annual trek to Cape Cod, and I am so excited to be spending this time with family and living it up the briny ocean air!

Just like the holidays, I look forward to vacations every year. And just like the holidays, I find ways to pack on some extra pounds, eat way more than I should, make excuses for lazying it up, and go home mad at myself. Once home and back into the swing of things, I usually don’t step on the scale until I’m sure I’ve knocked off at least part of the new spare tire around my waist. And when I do assess the damage, I’m still amazed at how great I would be as a bear preparing to hibernate for the winter.

Unlike the holidays, vacations typically happen during the spring and summer—when it’s warm out. So I really have no excuse for staying inside and sitting on my butt or for driving everywhere instead of biking or walking. And if we stay in a hotel, where there is usually a workout room and/or a pool, then I really am just doing myself a disservice! Being active on vacation doesn’t have to detract from the experience; it can be a part of it! How about running along one of the lovely costal beaches on the Cape? Or playing ultimate frisbee on the flats of the bay when the tide is low? Unless you somehow lock yourself in your tent, it’s practically impossible not to exercise while camping in Nickerson State Park. (And even if you did lock yourself in the tent, you probably have enough room to do some crunches.) Not exercising is a conscious choice—one that I am guilty of making in favor of sleeping in the hammock and then running to the car to grab those caramel chewy bars so I can eat two before anyone else remembers where they are.

But I have realized something. It’s not that we regress when we are with family and act like we did when we were thirteen and could eat entire packages of Oreos and Fruit by the Foot (an Adirondack-camping staple). For me, it’s the feeling that, while on vacation, “I deserve this.” (I think we’ve all said this to ourselves at least once when trying to justify eating things that might not be very healthy.) I get into the mentality that I was so well behaved leading up to vacation and hey, I’m likely not going to be back on Cape Cod until next summer, so I might as well eat my heart out at Cobies. Stock up for the year, right?!

Yeah. This is an actual plate of food from Cobies.

Yeah. This is an actual plate of food from Cobies.

But don’t get me wrong. With a little moderation and a bunch of swimming, I’m more than happy to get a small, more reasonably sized cone of DELICIOUS ice cream from this lovely establishment.

It’s a struggle for me to balance staying active with eating all this delicious vacation food that I eat only once a year (for a week straight). Even going somewhere for a day, like to New York City, can wreak havoc on my generally healthy lifestyle: I want to eat the perfectly cooked pasta in Little Italy, get a pretzel from a cart near Central Park (after arguing with the vendor about how much they actually cost), and drink Jacques Torres Wicked Hot Chocolate that Giada De Laurentiis recommended . . . all in about six hours. I sit on the train back to Kingston coddling my food baby and totally not as happy as I was when that cup of molten bliss was placed in front of me.

I am quickly making 2FNs look like a food blog.

I am quickly making 2FNs look like a food blog. And yes, they make their own marshmallows.

I suppose my point here is that while we should treat vacations as time to relax away from our daily lives and the weekly grind of work, school, or what have you, we should also respect our bodies and our hard work enough not to backtrack so quickly. I know for me it is really too easy to put on an extra five pounds over the course of a week-long vacation. But working those five pounds off again? Months of exercise and conscientious food choices. So my goal for Cape Cod this year is to explore to the point of exhaustion—literally—what I can do to stay active (swimming, biking, running, walking, hiking, ultimate frisbee, beach football . . .) and finding treats really worth savoring. I don’t need to get four scoops of ice cream in order to enjoy myself. I can bike to Cobies and enjoy just one scoop of their crazy flavors; or I can find someone with whom I can split a sundae, and then there’s two experiences in one! Sharing is caring, after all. So make sure to relax on your vacation but also to treat your body right and keep moving and eating well. You’ll thank yourself when you come home.

My first Cape Cod in 2008!

And make sure to wear plenty of sunscreen!