Going on vacation doesn’t have to mean backsliding on healthy habits, gaining weight, or abandoning workouts. With a little mindfulness, you can enjoy your indulgences without spiraling into a week-long sugar binge. Read on for tips for balancing health and fun while you travel.
1.Carry a Stash of Healthy Snacks
Ever find yourself rushing to get to the airport on time, only to realize you haven’t eaten a thing since you woke up? Before you hit the road on your summer vacation, plan ahead in order to resist the siren song of a cinnamon roll the size of your head. “It’s really important to always be prepped with foods that can act as snacks or makeshift meals,” says nutritionist Keri Glassman. “If you don’t, you end up in a situation where you’re starving, then dine out and overdo it.” Make sure to have a stash of heart-healthy nuts, a high-protein nutrition bar, or a few pieces of whole, fresh fruit with you at all times to stave off emergency hunger. Don’t end up in a situation where you inhale a bag of greasy chips or stale doughnut just because you need to eat something.
2. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Even though most people are aware of the importance of hydration, many don’t drink enough water even under ideal circumstances, which can cause fatigue and sluggishness. Traveling can make getting the hydration we need very tricky, especially if you’re traveling by plane. Because air at high altitudes is very cold, it can’t hold much moisture, so it can be very drying. Avoid alcohol, bring your own water bottle (and frequently re-fill it), and accept hydrating beverages every time they’re offered.
At your destination, hot temperatures, celebratory cocktails, and dry hotel air can sap your moisture. So make it your business to knock back extra H2O. Ask for a pitcher of water at your dinner table, and request a pint of water for every glass of wine at the bar. Aim for 8 glasses, but drink before you get thirsty… by the time your body sends the signal, you’re already dehydrated.
3. Avoid Liquid Calories
Partaking in an alcoholic drink or two is often part of a relaxing vacation, but those liquid calories can really add up. Sugary cocktails like margaritas can easily contain up to 500 calories in one large drink. If you’ve really been looking forward to this treat, then go for it, and enjoy every sip. But if you’d rather save your “indulgence calories” to try out the local cuisine or partake in dessert, stick mainly to water and other low-calorie beverages.
To amp up the “wow” factor and nutrition of your low-calorie, hydrating water or seltzer, why not infuse it? Keri Glassman advises that “Infusing your water is a great way to add new flavor without adding excess calories.” Try tossing in fresh berries or citrus slices for a punch of flavor and vitamin C, cucumbers for an eye-opening freshness and antioxidant boost, or crushed mint for a refreshing, anti-bacterial treat.
4. Plan Your Indulgences
When you’re in a fabulous new locale with exotic food and drink offerings, it would be a shame to stick to a draconian diet. After all, it’s vacation, a time to relax and enjoy yourself. Besides, if you’re the only one at the table eating salad and steamed veggies each night, you could find yourself overindulging on cookies and ice cream late at night as a result of feeling deprived. But you can have your cake and eat it too without gaining weight by choosing wisely.
Give yourself what you crave, but balance indulgences with healthy fare. Opening the door doesn’t have to mean opening the floodgate. Try the 80/20 rule: Choose foods and drinks that are health-boosting, high-fiber, and lower calorie for 80% of your diet, and let the other 20% be your treat. If you know you’re going to have the city’s famous deep-dish pizza for dinner, choose a lighter, produce-based entrée for lunch, such as a salad or sandwich loaded with veggies. If the day’s treat is a pitcher of sangria and crispy tortilla chips with your Mexican meal, make breakfast an egg-white and veggie omelet or a bowl of whole grain oatmeal with fruit. Plus, when you do indulgence, pay attention to your hunger cues and stop eating when you’re satisfied.
5. Bring Your Scale
“But I don’t want to know how much weight I’m gaining,” you might be thinking. And we hear you – but vacation doesn’t have to automatically equal weight gain. By keeping yourself accountable with your scale, you’ll be able to keep indulgences in perspective and not use vacation as an excuse to consistently overeat and stop exercising. We promise you’ll feel better, and have more energy during your vacation if you stay balanced too! And even if you do see the scale creeping up, that’s OK. Simply having an honest weight check-in each day can help you limit the damage. Better to come back a few pounds up than fifteen.
6. Drink in Sensory Pleasures
“To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.”
So says Freya Stark, British explorer and travel writer, who knew a thing or two about enjoying vacation. Going on holiday offers the opportunity to delight in all the five senses have to offer – plus when your mind, spirit, and soul are full, the need to fill the stomach diminishes. The visual richness of an art gallery, the auditory splendor of a symphony concert, the tactile bliss of a massage, and the dizzying aroma of a spice market can bring about just as much pleasure and happiness. While good food and drink can be a truly pleasant experience as well, find a balance, and don’t make eating and drinking your vacation’s only thrill.
7. Get Some Shut-Eye
Traveling can wreak havoc on one’s sleep schedule. From odd arrival and departure times, to time-zone related jet lag, to staying up late dancing and exploring, vacations can be anything but routine. Studies have shown that sleeping fewer than 6 hours or more than 9 hours a night can lead to weight gain. According the Mayo Clinic blog, “One explanation might be that sleep duration affects hormones regulating hunger — ghrelin and leptin — and stimulates the appetite. Another contributing factor might be that lack of sleep leads to fatigue and results in less physical activity.” To stay healthy and stave off the extra pounds, try to sync your circadian rhythm to the local time as soon as possible, resist the urge to snack in the middle of the night, and go to sleep and rise at the same time each day.
8. Choose Workouts that Don’t Feel Like Working Out
Instead of forcing yourself to stick to your regular workout routine of challenging weight lifting sessions or high intensity cardio, use your vacation as a chance to try something new – and perhaps a little less strenuous.
If you’re a runner, a running tour of your destination can be a great way to get to know the locale. Don’t worry about pace or distance, and stop as often as you want to take pictures or explore the area. Another great way to burn calories is dancing, so get dressed up and hit the club floor or a nearby music festival. If you’ve chosen a beach vacation, take the opportunity to rent a paddle boat or try out water sports – this type of activity won’t feel like working out, but will still get your blood pumping.
If those options don’t appeal to you, don’t worry – just focus on walking. Instead of taking public transportation or driving, walk as much as you can. Not only is this a healthier choice, but it provides the opportunity to see a city or village up-close and personal. Choose to visit landmarks that require a little effort to reach. Is there a panoramic view or famous statue up a hill or mountain? Walk there. And in your hotel or resort, skip the elevators and escalators, and take the stairs instead. You’ll feel better, and burn more calories to boot.
There you have it! With a little planning, an eye toward balance, a couple of scale checks, and a healthy mindset, you can have all the fun you want to and still make it home healthy.
Learn more about infused water for an easy way to save calories and still enjoy your summer drink.