For me, vacation time is something I look forward to with a mix of anticipation and trepidation. I LOVE traveling to new and exotic places, but I also know that a week or two of lying on the beach, not working out and eating every meal in a restaurant can potentially set back my fitness progress by months.
At least this used to be the case. Tobias and I just got back from a fantastic week in Maui, and for the first time ever, I returned from a vacation in the same shape as when I left.
To achieve this, I just made a few small changes to our vacation routine that made it easier to be healthy. They turned out to also make the vacation even better than normal, so how great is that!? 😀
I should probably also mention that I usually don’t lift weights when on vacation. For me, vacations are for relaxing, having fun and recharging. I feel like my body needs a week of rest at least once or twice per year, so vacations are perfect for that.
My top tips to a healthy vacation
- Have a plan and a goal – I decided before starting the vacation that gaining around 1 lbs. over the week would be fine. That still counts as a success. Any more than that I wouldn’t be happy with. To meet this goal, I then thought about what kinds of indulgences I would permit myself. I would love to eat burgers and French fries for lunch, have an ice cream by the pool and a glass (or two) of wine with dinner, but I just can’t do all of that and still meet my goal. In the end, I decided to have one good treat every day (usually fries or ice cream) and no more.
- Bring healthy snacks – More often than not, it’s all the small snacks that get you, not the big meals. For me, Quest bars are a lifesaver. I simply brought a bunch of Quest bars from home and used them as snacks. They are high in protein, pretty filling and the taste great, so they are perfect beach snacks. Another great option for when you get the munchies by the pool or on long drives are baby carrots or other chopped up veggies. Even if you don’t have access to a kitchen, you can often buy small bags of carrots or chopped veggies.
- Get a room with a kitchen – A few years ago, I would have sworn that I would never cook on my vacation, but now I actually think it’s a luxury. Especially for breakfast, it’s really easy to buy or cook food that is just as good, and a lot more healthy, than the buffet food you usually get in hotels. Also, eating dinner on the balcony while watching the sunset over the Pacific is at least as romantic as any restaurant.
- Do fun but active things – This trip, we went snorkeling, hiking, or just walking pretty much every day. It doesn’t feel like a workout, but you burn a lot of calories. Try to incorporate fun activities into your vacation as a way to stay active.
- Know what to choose on the menu in restaurants – I always check the menu before deciding on a restaurant, so I know that they have a healthy option that also sounds good. I have also learned that almost every restaurant will allow you to substitute ingredients if you ask nicely. I usually choose either chicken, lean meat or fish with veggies.
- Watch the liquid calories – Remember to watch what you drink. A few sodas or drinks can easily add up to a lot of calories. I always bring water with me wherever I go. If we are driving anywhere, I bring my cooler bag, so I always have cold water. Getting back to your car after a hike and having ice-cold water is AMAZING.
With a little planning, staying healthy and not gaining weight on your vacations actually isn’t that difficult. Give it a try on your next vacation and let us know your favorite healthy vacation tips in the comments below or on Facebook.