For many of us, vacation is all about indulgence. Hotel buffet breakfasts, fresh gelato and ice-cream, afternoon cocktails during Happy Hour, and unlimited room service. If you are really lucky, you might even have a personal pool boy to feed you frozen treats. If you know a resort that stocks those, let me know.
We are bombarded with advertising for ‘Summer Body’ weight loss plans, and ‘Bikini Body’ fitness classes and supplements. We work our asses off all spring to get in shape for summer and then as soon as we return home from our long-awaited holiday, we face the fear of stepping on the scales. How much holiday weight have we gained? How much muscle mass have we lost? Have we undone all those hours we spent in the gym?
Recently, I spent a month away from home staying at hotels and friends’ residences in the Canary Islands, Scotland, and Malta. Before going away, I decided that I was not going to stop working out because I genuinely love how running and exercising makes me feel, and that I was going to try and stick to my healthy eating regime whilst enjoying a few treats here and there. Balance, balance, balance.
When I came home, I weighed myself and found that I had actually lost a couple of lbs. But this could mean that I have lost muscle mass as muscle weighs more than fat. There’s no way of knowing without taking my body fat percentage, but I don’t like to obsess over numbers, so I’m going to roll with it and get back to my regular routine of a weights, HIIT and cardio mix. If I can indulge in treats (chocolate, wine, and ice cream to name a few) whilst on vacation, and not gain weight, then why can’t you?
So, I want to share my top tips for staying fit and healthy on vacation with all of you so that you too can enjoy your holiday without feeling bad when you return home!
- Pack Work-Out Clothes: Before you go, decide realistically how many days you are going to work out. If you are going on vacation for a week, perhaps commit to 4-5 days in the hotel gym or outdoors if the weather permits. Take enough gym clothes for your work-outs and don’t be afraid to re-wear them if you won’t have access to laundry. Think that’s gross? You could take a small bottle of hand-washing soap with you and wash them in your hotel sink or bathtub. When you are a fitness-lover like me, squeezing in a great morning gym session before breakfast is much more important than how you smell for those 45-60 minutes during your workout! If you have work-out clothes with you, you will have no excuse not to work-out. Even 20-30 minutes each day will help you retain the muscle you’ve built, and will help keep your mood, energy levels, and sleep in check.
- Drink lots of Water: If you are going somewhere sunny and hot, make sure you drink enough water to stay hydrated. You might not feel sweaty when you are splashing around in the pool, lying out on the beach, or swimming in the ocean, but your body is losing water. Overheating can make you feel sick, dizzy and just plain rough. Dehydration is often confused with hunger, so make sure to hydrate right before meal times. Also, if you are drinking alcohol, try to drink one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage. Alcohol is a diuretic and will dehydrate you. If you are already dehydrated before you start drinking, you also risk drinking too much and will suffer a double-hangover.
- Green Tea: If you’re a green tea drinker like me, or you need caffeine in the morning, try drinking green tea on vacation instead of your usual latte or breakfast tea. Your body will thank you for the detox! Plus, when you are relaxing and getting away from your hectic daily routine and your 9-5, what better excuse to curb your caffeine consumption? Green tea is also lower in caffeine than other alternatives, and full of antioxidants. I always travel with a stash of green tea bags, and I always have a cup in the morning before my workout.
- Beware of the Buffet: Mealtimes at hotels and holiday resorts usually consist of buffets. Breakfast time means pancakes, bacon, waffles, eggs, donuts, pastries, and all sorts of not-so-healthy options. Dinner time usually means an ice-cream buffet, bread assortments, unlimited french fries, and beer on tap. Buffets are a danger-zone. You control your portion-sizes so be careful! Most people will tend to eat more, simply because there is literally unlimited food. Eat as you would in a restaurant. Take your time, eat slowly, and have an appetiser, salad, main, and dessert, in that order. Make sure your meal is an even spread of carbs, fats, protein, and greens. Take breaks between plates and don’t over-eat!
- Treat Yourself Daily: If you stick to healthy options during your meals, there is no reason why you can’t have treats! If you pick the tasty, nutritious options at meal times like salads, fish, and veggies, there is no reason why you can’t enjoy desserts, ice creams, and a couple of cocktails or glasses of wine.