Tips for Staying Fit and Healthy On Summer Vacation
Well Summer has officially arrived at my house! School is out, child number one is now graduated and child number two is officially in high school! I don't know about you, but the last month of school for us was so jam packed with activities, senior projects, end of school year events and graduation festivities that it was pretty stressful trying to figure out how to cram it all in. Now that it's all over, I am seriously ready for a VACATION!
I get asked all the time how I travel and maintain my fitness and healthy diet, so I am going to share my best tips for doing just that. For some reason, when most people go on vacation, everything they know about eating healthy and living healthy seems to go right out the window. We relish the freedom a vacation gives us and suddenly that freedom spills over into everything including our food and activity while we're traveling. We spend months following a routine and we drop it like it's hot the minute we know we're away. We eat foods we would never or rarely eat at home and suddenly we turn into sloths, sitting and sleeping and being enjoyably lazy.
I personally find it much easier to stay on task eating healthy and planning my vacations with the excitement of getting to do different workouts wherever I go! Yes, I love relaxing and finding the peacefulness that getting away brings, but I also love the feeling I get from taking care of my body. It's one of the things I look forward to the most when I travel. I love finding classes or going on new adventures and trying new activities. And I LOVE food, so when we are abroad, I'm always looking for healthy food choices and places where we can try new things.
What I don't love is eating food that makes me feel bad and I don't like the idea of coming home from a relaxing trip knowing you have to double up on your gym program because you went crazy while you were gone; or that you did nothing and now feel like a squishy gummy bear. That's no fun. Vacation aftermath is not my cup of tea, so this is how I avoid it!
Plan Ahead and Bring Your Own Food. This will be the best thing you can do for yourself, your family and your body. I always plan ahead by first booking our stay where I can keep and prepare food. Look for a mini-fridge in the room, maybe a kitchenette and scope out what the hotel has. I always take food with us and I usually plan a few meals that I can prepare myself. I've made jars with quick cooking oats, chia seeds, berries and coconut that all I have to do is add boiling water to. I have pre-made rice and brought everything to make rice cereal; I've even brought my small rice cooker with me because it is so simple to use-just add rice and water and wa-la! I make shredded chicken ahead of time and it makes excellent chicken salads. Just do easy, think simple and you'll have a great base for a healthy meal. If that's a bit much for your style, just plan your snacks ahead so you don't get into a bind and resort to eating junk from a machine or worse; end up eating fast food. Make some healthy bars, bring fruit, trail mix, healthy stuff for sandwiches, etc. There are so many things that are easy to travel with and bringing a small cooler is pretty easy since there are so many soft-sided options now. If you are flying, bring snacks, pack some food in your suitcase and eat before you get to the airport so you're not tempted to stop for a bunch of junk or fast food in the food court.
Look for Restaurants Offering Healthy Food Choices and Farmers Markets. There are all kinds of apps now that you can use to find healthy restaurants. I use "Yelp" all the time and one of my personal favorite apps for my food issues is, "Find Me Gluten Free". If I know what city we will be in (not just driving through), I always research Farmer's Markets, healthy grocery stores and restaurants before we go. I make lists of where I want to try and that way once we are there, the work has been done and we can just pick from the list! Yes, it is part of the "planning ahead" stage and it is well worth it. I love visiting Farmer's Markets in other cities because you always find foods unique to those regions and what is in season in one area, may not be so in another. You'll find local foods and products and you'll be supporting community farmers at the same time. It's a win-win.
Enjoy One Big Splurge Meal and Allow Yourself to Have One Dessert You Wouldn't Normally Have. We spend months getting bikini ready for that one big trip, only to have the 7-10 day vacation filled with enormous splurges to put you right back at square one. No one can eat enormous, rich meals for that long along with alcohol consumption and relaxing and expect to come home in the same shape they left in. With each bite, each sip you can very easily undo all the hard work you've put into yourself. To stay in great shape and keep your body happy and healthy, it's much better to plan and allow for one big extravagant meal or dessert. Eat mindfully for the majority of your trip and then that one doozy of a meal won't do as much harm. If you plan well and do a metabolism firing workout earlier in the day, such as a H.I.I.T. workout, it really won't have all too much of an effect on your body. It is vacation and you do have to let loose and enjoy life, just don't do it the entire trip if you want to keep your shape!
Participate in Classes or Activities in the Area Where You're Staying. I am a class junkie. I LOVE finding gyms with fun spin classes, intense yoga classes, tough kick boxing classes and just about anything that is going to be a challenge and make me work! If I am in the mountains, then I am mountain biking. If I am in the dessert, then I am hiking trails. Wherever I go, I find an activity to do. My shoes and a set of workout gear are always in my bag. My spin shoes are always in my car or in my suitcase when I travel. I've never regretted doing a workout, I have only regretted not going when I should have! If you can't find a place to go to or to do an activity, then walk the city. Climb the stairs at your hotel, don't take the elevator. Rent bicycles-many cities have places you can just walk right up to. The more active you stay on a trip, the better you'll feel and if there's a time difference or if you have jet lag; it's the best way to get your body feeling better fast.
Drink Plenty of H2O. Here's another thing that we forget to do when we travel. Drink water people! Just because you're on vacation does't mean your body systems don't need their regular maintenance. The more dehydrated you are, the harder it will be to get over jet lag and adjust to a time difference and trust me, you don't want to feel tired and crabby on a vacation. If you're even slightly dehydrated, your brain may be giving confusing signals telling you that your hungry when really all you need is water which could lead to overeating. Make sure you're drinking at least half your body weight in ounces, so a 100lbs person would need about 50 ounces of water each day.
Don't Drink Your Calories. We all know that most people's vacations include cocktails, bottles of wine or sodas and lattes. Most of these sugary drinks can have upwards of 50 grams of sugar and an enormous calorie content. Did you know a Cadillac Margarita has nearly 900 calories? That's half of some people's day of calories in one drink! Some lattes and foo-foo coffee drinks can have well over 1,000 calories! Be mindful of what you are drinking...if you are overindulging on food too, well you could end up with a huge caloric intake in one day. Just imagine having french toast, a coffee latte and orange juice for breakfast, then 3 margaritas pool-side, a burger and fries for lunch and then a steak dinner with a couple glasses of wine followed by dessert. You'd be upwards of 5,000 calories! That's like two days of food consumption in one day. And about 3,000 of those calories are from drinks alone.
Disconnect from Home and Work. If you are constantly checking emails and messages, you are never truly getting away from everything. Everyone needs downtime, so put away the phone, the tablet and laptop and give yourself the break from any possible stress-related issues that may be waiting for you. They say it takes 3-4 days to really relax the body after living most people's day-to-day stressful lives. If you can't get away from these things, your vacation won't feel as relaxing as you had hoped.