We are at the height of the summer and that means that most people are taking some kind of vacation. Summer vacations provide us with a much needed get-away from the daily routine. This is a very big positive for our health.
But there are also some potential hazards involved. Being out of our usual environment can mean many surprises that we don’t anticipate. Are we staying in a hotel where we don’t have a lot of choices as far as the variety of food? Are we relying on eating in restaurants most days? Have we built in a lot of activity each day, such as hiking and swimming, or are we going to be sedentary? How much traveling time will there be and how do we prepare for that?
At the airport
Eat before you leave or pack food for the airport and journey. Although you can find healthy options at the airport, there is still nothing better than homemade food. Boarding with drinks is not allowed, so make sure you hydrate well before getting on the plane.
On the plane
The food served on planes is high in fats (even trans fats) and sugars. It is usually very processed and generally not at all healthy. BRING YOUR OWN FOOD! Sandwiches, rice cakes, unsalted nuts, raw cut up veggies, fruit, dried fruit, healthy cereal in bag are all good options.
Accommodations away from home
Whether you are staying in a hotel or with family, you have to be extremely vigilant. In a different environment, people may be sleep deprived or stressed. Usually someone else is doing the cooking, too.
It is easy to see why you have to have your survival plan and a realistic goal vis-a-vis your weight loss. I advise most of my clients just to try and maintain their weight while away. This is often a more realistic goal.
Start each day with a nutritious breakfast, don’t skip meals, stay hydrated and try and keep active. Follow all the regular guidelines one follows when eating-out. In particular, watch your portion sizes and avoid fried foods, pastries, creamy sauces, or heavy dressings.
Going away to hotels has become more and more common. Most of these establishments have some, if not all, of their meals served buffet style. The disadvantage of a buffet is you can keep going back for more. Yet if you can control that, there are more advantages to buffet eating than disadvantages.
First, you can determine your menu. You can take more vegetables, healthy lean proteins, whole grains, and you can pick fruits for dessert. Second, don’t attack the buffet. The food isn’t going anywhere. Survey what food choices are available and then make a plan. Only take seconds on raw and cooked vegetable dishes. WATCH OUT FOR THE OILY FOODS—you don’t want them.
Avoid the mindset of “getting what you pay for.” Your health is more important!
As you plan, include activities that will give you enough exercise and activity while still enjoying your vacation experience. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise, especially when the temperature soars.
- Choose water workouts and make a splash as you get fit and strong.
- When you visit museums, the zoo, or an aquarium you end up walking for hours without realizing it.
- When it’s just TOO hot and uncomfortable outside, get moving indoors with a fun fitness DVD.
- Plan a hike through a park, a family softball game, or an evening walk around your neighborhood.
- Strengthen your muscles at least twice a week with push-ups, bench dips, or use the fitness facility if you are in a hotel.
- Beat the heat with an early morning activity. Go for a walk or bike ride while watching the sun come up.
Exercise—even on vacation!
This is probably where most people have a downfall when away for the summer. Granted, it takes a lot of discipline but we need to look at it just like eating. You aren’t trying to advance in anyway, you just want to exercise enough to maintain your strength and endurance and not gain weight. Be content with doing a more minimal workout than you would at home.
Make your 30-35 minute brisk walk mandatory on a daily basis, and try to just get in some pushups and abs every other day. The gym will be waiting for you when you get back from your vacation—and it won’t take you very long to be back to your normal level of exercise.
One important piece of advice I give to all of my travelers is this: Don’t make any grand plans. Take everything one day at a time. You usually aren’t in charge of your daily schedule when you are away visiting people or on an organized tour. Plan the next day, the prior night before you go to sleep. By that time, you often know what’s on the agenda and can plan your meals, snacks and your exercise accordingly. Remember to make the best of any situation and try to make good choices.
Vacations don’t have to be hazardous to your health—the opposite is true. Let your vacation enhance your state of both physical and mental well-being. Taking care to plan your is another way to “add hours to your days, days to your years, and years to your life.”