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Vacation Survival Guide- 6 tips to enjoy your trip and not expand your waistline!

How to have fun, relax, and unwind without undoing all of your hard work!

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Vacation. Ahhh…one of the FINER things in life.

I am a firm believer in the “work hard, play hard” mantra. What’s life without a little break from the normal routine to spend time with friends, family, reflection, getting lots of sleep, partying, pampering, or whatever floats your boat?

My husband and I got married in Jamaica in February of 2012. It was an AMAZING experience at a beautiful resort and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. On that trip we decided that we were going to do everything we could to plan a trip to go somewhere warm every February.  After all, we would be celebrating our Anniversary (and my Birthday!) at that time every year, so why not? Every year since then we have taken a trip to an All Inclusive resort to get away from the often brutal Kentucky winters.

        My mindset in preparation and while on these vacations has really changed in the last few years. I have done everything from strict dieting before and after vacation, “detoxing”, trying to restrict myself on vacation (NO fun!), and most recently…

just chilling the heck out and not worrying about it.

        Every vacation has been awesome overall, but I wanted to share my thoughts on what works for me and how finding a balance has really helped me to keep my sanity while enjoying myself and not wrecking my body in the process.  Hopefully my insight will help you when it comes time for your next trip!

In a nut shell:
  1. Consider your main goal and where you are starting from.
  2. MOVE
  3. Drink a lot of water
  4. Wait to eat until you are legitimately hungry.
  5. Prolong drinking until later in the day, stop drinking with plenty of time before bed.
  6. Get as much sleep as possible.

Consider your main goal and where you are starting from.

        This is definitely step number one.  Someone who is training for some sort of competition or race is definitely in a different place that someone who is trying to lose a few pounds or maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.  This article is tailored towards you if you are one of those who wants to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle that allows you to enjoy your life (and vacation) with little stress while not wrecking your body and hard work you’ve put in to get healthy in the process.  If this is your goal, read on!

MOVE!

        This is where I have royally messed up before and I think this is KEY to feeling good.  You need to MOVE on your vacation!

I’ve spent plenty of time laying on the beach, eating food, drinking tropical drinks (more on that later), and napping on vacation but MOVING is the thing that really helps me to feel my absolute best both while your on vacation and when you get home.  Do you need to spend hours in the hotel gym or go on a 5 mile run every morning? No, absolutely not. You can do whatever you FEEL like doing. Pick something you enjoy.  This can be a long walk first thing in the morning, tennis or golf in the afternoon, a sprint workout on the beach, or maybe an organized yoga class or beach volleyball.  Just do something. Daily if you can! Move, stretch, breathe, and get your heart rate up a bit.  My favorite workouts while on vacation are creative and varied everyday.  They usually last between 10-30 minutes and they get me sweating, give me energy, and most of all I enjoy them!  Here are a few samples from my latest vacation:

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  I prefer to do my vacation movement in the morning.  I usually wake up (no alarm), relax a bit and have a cup of black coffee while reading or playing on my computer, then I get dressed and hit the hotel gym or the beach depending on what I am doing that day.

Drink a LOT of water.

        There are so many reasons for this.  I tell people that they need to drink more water all of the time, but on vaca it’s even MORE important.  When we are on vacation, especially at an all inclusive resort where you barely have to lift a finger to get whatever type of food or drink your heart desires, you are definitely going to be eating and drinking MORE than you normally would.  Not only that, but you’ll likely be indulging in things you may not ever have at home.  That’s vacation for ya! If you keep yourself WELL hydrated, you won’t mistake feelings of thirst for feelings of hunger (which is very common). You simply won’t be quite as hungry. You’ll also cut down your chances of feeling any ill effects from the alcohol you might be consuming when well hydrated. It’s a great rule of thumb to drink a glass upon waking, in between each alcoholic beverage, as well and drinking a decent amount before bed (especially when drinking). I am not a big drinker and I think being hungover might be one of the worst things in the world and staying hydrated  is KEY in reducing your chances of a hangover.  WATER WATER WATER!!  Not to mention the amount of fluid you are likely losing if you are sweating out in warm weather!

Wait to eat until you are legitimately hungry.

        When delicious food is at our fingertips 24/7 and it seems like everyone around us is indulging, it’s really hard to “be good”. It doesn’t matter how great your nutrition and activity level is before and after vacation, if you go on vacation and stuff your face at breakfast, lunch, and dinner and drink tropical umbrella drinks with reckless abandon, you’ll likely be in a world of hurt when you get home.  Solution to this: Prolong your breakfast (or skip if you are comfortable with a short fast) until you are legitimately hungry.  This is great to pair with step 2.  You can wake up, have a little caffeine, get a workout in mid morning, and then fast until lunch or have a nice post workout brunch.

Mushroom Omelette

Make sure you get a good first meal in that has plenty of protein in it to help you feel satisfied, especially if it’s following a big workout.  I personally like to do this. If I eat breakfast, I always get an omelette or get some bacon and eggs with veggies if they have them and a little coffee.  If I skip breakfast, lunch is usually a BAS (Big a** salad) with plenty of meat and veggies to fill up my stomach and give me plenty of energy for a rough day on lounging at the pool.

Prolong drinking until later in the day, stop drinking with plenty of time before bed.

This is the same idea as number 4.  Many of my clients come to me wanting to know how much they can actually drink and still get results with fat loss.  This is a VERY individual thing, however one thing always rings true:  When you start drinking, you are MUCH more likely to eat MORE and with inhibitions lowered, you’ll likely care less about what you are eating (read: more junk). Now again, I’m not saying anything is wrong with some indulging on vaca, but you’ve got to realize that eating 3 plates of nachos along with your bottomless margaritas for a week maaaay just leave you regretting those decisions a week later.  If you prolong your drinking to later in the day, or possibly at one meal, you are much more likely to make better decisions and feel less ill effects from the alcohol. WIN WIN.

Large collection of summer refreshing cocktails in transparent glasses

I have had the best success with drinking on vacation if I wait until late afternoon to begin drinking after I have drank plenty of water and eating a good meal and (here’s the kicker):

I stop drinking with plenty of time before I go to bed.

        If you allow yourself at least an hour (more if possible) after your last drink before you go to bed, you’ll allow your body to metabolize more of the alcohol and cut down your chances of a hangover the next morning (Ew. Worst feeling EVER.) I’m going to mention step 2 again…DRINK MORE WATER.  I drink at least two glasses after my last adult beverage and I go to bed with a bottle of water next to me.  Throughout the night if I wake up I make sure to take a few drinks and if I haven’t finished the bottle in the morning, I drink it upon waking.  I used this tactic EVERY night on my last vacation and it worked like a charm.  If you drink late into the evening, don’t drink enough water, and go to bed right after you finish your last sip of your drink, I’ll feel very sorry for you in the morning.

Get as much sleep as possible.

        I talk about sleep just as much as I talk about food choices with my fat loss clients.  It is SO important whether on vacation or not.  Vacations are for BREAKS though.  You are out of your normal routine so unless you are running your kids around Disney World (hey-that would still be fun!) you will likely have enough down time to get some extra sleep!  Don’t set an alarm, go to bed early if you are tired and up all day doing different activities, take a snooze on the beach, etc.  If you are sleeping, you aren’t eating or boozing it up and you are actually giving your body time to rest and repair.  You likely don’t want to sleep your whole vacation away (or maybe you do!) but a couple extra hours of sleep here and there can do WONDERS for you.  Take advantage of that when you can!

Fitness woman sunbathing on the beach sleeping with the sea in the background

Vacation isn’t a common thing for most of us, so you definitely want to be able to enjoy your time away from the daily grind.  Giving yourself a bit of a break to relax is SO important for overall well being.  It’s much more enjoyable if you can find a healthy balance so you don’t have to count every calorie or restrict yourself because you are afraid of “getting fat” or “ruining all of your hard work.”  Not to mention, you don’t want to be that guy or girl who is chewing on lettuce and water while giving dirty looks to those enjoying a pina colada and a pizza. By following these tips I think you’ll find that you can really enjoy yourself on vacation while still feeling good and not completely going off the wagon only to return home feeling guilty and puffy!

Do you have any tips that work for you to stay healthy while still being able to really enjoy your vacation?  I’d love to hear them!

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