Your Vacation Didn’t Blow Your Healthy Habits

Jul 29, 2021 | Beliefs, Consistency

I LOVE a good habit stack.

Like, LOVE.

So much so that I use habit stacks as much as possible throughout my days to automate staying healthy.

For example, I do push-ups after each time I use the restroom.

I do a pull-up (or two if I’m feeling saucy) each time I go up the steps in my house.

Anything I can automate with a stack to make my brain do less, the better.

Habit Stacking 101

I’m writing this as I just got back from a mini vacay, and I’ve got a real vacay in 2 weeks, but before I get to that, indulge me as I quickly review what a habit stack is.

The formula is

Before/During/After I do [existing behavior], I will do [desired healthy behavior].

And the genius of the habit stack is that it’s way easier to stack a desired behavior (like a pull-up) onto something I already do (like go up the steps) than it is to rely on our brains to remember to do X-amount of pull-ups each day.

We’ve got TONS of things we need our brains for, and if you’re anything like me, asking it to remember something so small like do a few pull ups ensures it goes right to the bottom of the importance list (especially since it’s not something I especially WANT to do, I just want the healthy effects of it).

So stacking makes it easier on our brains and increases our chance of success.

The Vacation Wrench

Clearly I’m in favor of vacations! But in terms of our habit stacks, they throw a wrench in the plans.

See, our habits, and behaviors in general, are very location- and situation-dependent.

Meaning that when I bee-bop into Target for just that one thing… ha! Let’s get real – nobody gets just one thing at Target.

But when I stop into the store and use their restroom before loading up my cart with that “one thing”, I don’t automatically drop down to the floor and do my push-ups. That’d be gross, and to be honest it gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it.

Because my push-up habit stack is very dependent on being at my house, or location-dependent.

It would also be goofy if we had company over for dinner and anytime I used the restroom I dropped down in front of all in attendance to do my push-ups. I’m not entirely up to speed on etiquette, but I don’t think that would count as socially normal.

In this case, it’s situation-dependent.

I use those giggle-inducing examples to point out that while you’re on vacation, it’s completely normal to NOT do your usual habit stacks that you’ve incorporated into your life because you’re all out of routine – totally different location and situation.

On my most recent mini getaway, I didn’t do one.single.habit.stack. NONE!!

So if (and that’s a big IF) you manage to keep some of your habit stacks on vacay, great!

But if they fall by the wayside and you’re thinking you blew it by going on vacation, read on, my friend, read on.

You Didn’t Blow It

Because our brains are really good at what they do, our habit stacks aren’t lost after a week of skipping them on vacation. In fact, our brain doesn’t even consider it ‘skipping’ because it wasn’t the time or place for the habit stack to occur.

Which means that when you return home and get into your normal routine of things, your habit stacks will come back just like riding a bike!

I went right back to my push ups and pull ups and all the other stacks I’ve incorporated into my days.

It seems like magic, but again, our brain is REALLY good at this – it recognizes that you’re back in that environment where this habit stack is supposed to take place, and it picks back up the behavior like no time passed at all.

And if for some reason your habit stack seems a little shaky, remember I said it’s like riding a bike – totally normal to be a little shaky at first if it’s been a little while since you’ve felt those two wheels of freedom. Same goes for your habit stack – do it once or twice and you’ll be back in the normal swing of things in no time.

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