I’ve noticed that there are two surges of participants at the gym: (1) January 1st and (2) Pre-summer months. Many regular gym-goers hate this because it makes the gym crowded with temporary bodies, but I think it’s fantastic because any reason to get people to start exercising is great. These times are great opportunities to start building a new fitness lifestyle. Of course, there are many who start but won’t continue to sustain a regular exercise routine for the rest of their lives. It’s all because we just want that summer beach body. There’s nothing wrong with that, but that transient behavior/mentality fuels the cycle of working out/not working out and hating the gym/obsessively going for 1 month. I advocate a regular, sustainable fit lifestyle to break these destructive cycles.
I also understand that there are many things in life that can throw a wrench in our workout routine, and a vacation is one of the biggies. How the heck are we supposed to work out during a vacation? Here are some great tips to keep in mind while you’re vacationing!
(1) Walk Everywhere.
I’ve visited NYC many times, and I either walk everywhere or jump onto the metro/subway….and then I walk everywhere some more. Pack a pair of sneakers, put them on, and go! It’s the easiest way to explore your destination, get some fresh air, and burn those calories. Don’t forget a map (or your iPhone google maps!). By the end of the day, those burned calories will add up.
(2) Schedule Exercise.
Now this one is a toughie because who wants to work out during their vacation? (Besides me). But it’s easier than you think. You can schedule times to take a break from all the site seeing and work out at the hotel’s gym. Or what’s even easier is to plan a fun active activity to do with your friends and family. Snorkeling, hiking, swimming, and salsa dancing are all wonderful options that can break 4 walls of the gym. Once, my friends decided to run around Central Park. I did not realize how large it was until I was running it. Even though I was sore all over, I got to see the park with a whole different perspective. Plus, now I can say that I’ve run the entire perimeter of NYC’s Central Park.
(3) Take Pictures.
Now this one is not what you expect. I’m not talking about snapshots in front of the Great Wall of China or you holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I’m talking about taking pictures of you doing all those awesome things like surfing with the locals, snorkeling with dolphins, hang-gliding over the valley, or even bicycling across the Golden Gate Bridge. We all love a good picture of a golden crème brulée but throw in some active pictures. All your friends and family will see the pictures once you post them on Facebook…what a great way to hold yourself accountable and brag about all the awesome things you did!
(4) Portion Control.
One of the best parts of vacationing is trying out new restaurants and new cuisine. I know some people who literally pack a cooler of pre made meals. That’s a bit excessive and not everyone wants to do that or can do that. So what’s a healthy way of approaching food on vacation? Portion control has never been more important. It does require some restraint but the approach is straight forward. If you’re at a luau, put a little bit of everything that you want on your plate. Maximize the portions of fresh fruits and vegetables, and minimize the sizes of desserts and fried treats. You’ll indulge just a little to hit that craving without breaking the belt. If you’re out at a large dinner, buddy up with a friend, order a salad and entree, and share them between the two. You just cut half of the calories out of that large meal but still get to enjoy it.
(5) Snack Packs.
Whether you’re traveling on an airplane or spending the day at Disneyland, you’re going to get the munchies. Prepare small snack baggies with healthier alternatives like dried fruit/almonds, crackers, and fresh whole fruit. It’ll help curb your appetite before you get to lunch or dinner; otherwise, you may just binge at those larger mealtimes. This is also a great money saver tip because airports/airlines and theme parks charge mucho dinero for EVERYTHING. What’s great is that some airlines (like Virgin America’s SFO Terminal 2) has water stations to fill any empty water bottle you bring (just make sure it’s empty when you walk through security. Instant hydration without pulling out your wallet.
The final thing to note is that it’s REALLY easy to feel extra pressure while you are away on vacation. There will be even more temptations, but find confidence in your knowledge and will power. Being healthy on a vacation doesn’t have to feel like an obligation or a struggle to achieve and maintain. And, there’s an added bonus. If you stay active during your vacation, you won’t feel so badly or feel like you fell off the wagon once you return to your normal routine at home. You got this!