20 Tips for a Healthy Vacation
Your vacation is here! You’ve been planning it for months and are ready to pack your bags. You’ve lost some weight and want to maintain that loss or, you typically gain weight on vacation and are determined not to do so this time. 20 Tips for a Healthy Vacation will help you come home just as healthy as you left- or maybe even healthier!
Are you one of those people who look forward to letting go of everything while you are on vacation, including your healthy habits? Are you typically surrounded by like-minded friends and family and find it difficult to consistently make healthy choices?
Here are some tips that can help you maintain your hard-earned loss or avoid gaining weight while on vacation
Avoid thinking of your vacation as full of tempting events. It may seem that way but it’s not true. If you think about it, there are realistically only a few special events scheduled during most vacations. Maybe you are traveling for a wedding, anniversary, special birthday, etc., and those occasions can certainly provide lots of choices to get off track but there will be many days during your vacation that will not involve special meals out or opportunities to overindulge. I often ask my clients to think of eating while on vacation as an opportunity to order healthy food and have someone prepare it for you and wash the dishes rather than the alternative, which is to think that you get to treat yourself now that you are on vacation, forgetting that most of us treat ourselves very often during the year.
2. Think about what it is that you truly want from your vacation. What are your intentions for yourself during your vacation? What will help you truly relax, regenerate, connect with loved ones, have a good time, create wonderful memories, maybe have an adventure and/or learn something new, and come being home proud of your choices? Other than treat yourself to a big or fancy meal, how about treating yourself to a massage, a good book or an amazing hike? Think before you go of what you want and plan accordingly.
3. Keep moving – whether that be continuing your regular exercise routine, dancing at an event, swimming in the pool, lake or ocean or trying a new activity. Does your accommodation have a gym, a wonderful beach, hiking trails, wonderful cities to explore? Could you just as easily (and safely) walk than take a bus or cab? Maybe one of the people you will be going with likes to exercise too. Make a plan to move together and support each other in your choices to keep moving. Maybe start with walking at the airport. Have to get there hours before your flight or have a long lay-over? Those are great opportunities to get in some exercise. You could check your bags and wear a backpack with everything you need on the plane. That way you don’t need to stay by your luggage or ask someone else to stay with it. Wear shoes you can walk in and get in a few miles (and maybe even some stairs) before sitting for hours on the plane. Take your exercise tracking devices on your phone or otherwise and put them to good use every day.
4. Know which foods are packed with the most calories. Did you know that those fancy drinks can cost you plenty calorie-wise? Or that a handful of mixed nuts (1/2 cup) you ate because you missed lunch can cost you over 400 calories? What about the special dessert you just had to have because they only make it at that restaurant? By knowing the caloric content of the different foods you encounter, you can spend your calories on foods that have the most value to you.
5. Get enough sleep. Many of us eat more when we are tired, especially in the evenings. We often try to pack in more during vacations and getting enough sleep can be difficult to do. Be reasonable in what you can realistically do and still come home from your vacation rested and refreshed. Make the word “ease” part of your vocabulary for your trip. Noisy hotel? Make sure you take your earplugs and maybe something to cover your eyes in case the blinds don’t block the light very well.
6. Make sure that you eating enough protein. Protein can help you feel more full and therefore, less open to temptation. Have a higher-protein breakfast. You might want to take some protein powder with you or, if you have cooking facilities, boil some eggs or buy other good protein choices to take with you for snacks while exploring or to have between siestas or playing by the pool. If there is a grocery store nearby, stock up on good protein and vegetable choices.
7. Watch your alcohol intake. Not only is alcohol full of calories, but by drinking too much, your resolve to eat more healthfully can be lost. 4 oz. of red wine will cost you 100 calories. (8 oz. will cost you 200!) Indulge instead by purchasing sparkling water or by adding a piece of fruit to your water.
8. Preplan, preplan, preplan. How is it that you have achieved any successful endeavor in your life? You preplanned. The same is true for eating healthy foods on a regular basis. Preplan what kind of snack or meal you will have when spending hours sight-seeing. If eating dinner out, being specific about what you will eat is important. For example, will you have an appetizer? Have you checked out the menu ahead of time so that you know how to plan? Will you eat dessert? If so, how large a piece? If there is something you MUST have that you can’t get any other place, have a small bite and understand that you will be able to enjoy it when you come back.
9. Practice saying “no thank you” when you are offered goodies or other high-caloric foods or drinks, some that may be special to that destination. Think of something clever to say to those who insist you must try something and who remind you that you are on vacation, implying that you should be able to eat and drink whatever you please because that’s what they plan to do.
10. If you are planning on going to an event, it might be a good idea to have a high protein snack before you go so that you do not arrive hungry and possibly lower your chances of making good food selections. A hardboiled egg, tuna mixed with a little Dijon mustard wrapped in lettuce, Greek yogurt with a little fruit, meat or fish jerky, a handful of almonds or some vegetables and hummus are good higher-protein snack ideas.
11. Keep food records. If you have wifi, keeping electronic food records help us to problem-solve and to preplan as well as to see what is working for us. They can also keep us honest and on track. Those of us who have been keeping food records consistently know how important they are to our success in losing weight and keeping it off. If you are having a hard time getting into the habit, or go into “Failure Syndrome” by the second day, begin to keep them for the parts of the day when you are successful. When you have had some success, begin to record more of your day. Subtotal after each meal to see how many calories you have left for the day. “Bank” calories by under eating some days prior to an event that will most likely include higher-calorie foods.
12. Breathe! If you meditate, this would be a great time to continue. If you don’t, this could be a great time to begin.
13. Practice being grateful. Oprah spread the idea and benefits of keeping a daily gratitude journal several years ago. She recommended writing down at least 6 things that you are grateful for each evening. If you haven’t tried it, you might want to start. Those of us that do report being much more aware of and grateful for the even ordinary incredible things, situations and people in our lives. Celebrate why you are there (and even that you can be there) and make it a point to truly enjoy yourself!
14. Gifts: If you are bringing gifts home for family and friends, think about bringing them home something besides something to eat or drink. Ideas? Tee-shirts, jewelry, music, a sun-visor, books, etc., that are special to the place where you are vacationing.
15. Remind yourself of your successes. Celebrate your accomplishments with losing weight or whatever progress you have made toward becoming healthier. Have you begun exercising regularly? Have you limited the amount of alcohol calories you drink each week? Have you lost inches? Have you lost pounds? Have you begun to eat more healthfully? Are you keeping food records? Are you maintaining your weight loss? Whatever your successes, give yourself credit! Success builds success. The more successful behaviors in which we engage, the closer to our goals we will get.
16. Dress your best and/or your most comfortable. Spending a few days at the beach? Wear the new bathing suit you bought for the occasion and compliment yourself on the hard work you did to look so good in it! Same thing for the clothes you might have purchased for your vacation. Bought a new outfit for a special occasion? Enjoy the way your body feels and looks in it. It will remind you of how well you have done so far and will help to keep you focused on your goals when tempted.
17. Weigh in daily or not? If you have access to a scale and you normally weigh yourself daily, remember that the scale at home may not be consistent with the one at your vacation spot. That noted, a study recently reported that people who weighed themselves daily lost more weight over a certain period of time than those who didn’t. Weighing daily can be a two-sided coin though: If you find that weighing daily motivates you to be more aware of what you are eating and how much you are exercising, it can be a good practice. However, if you find that you become discouraged when the scale goes up due to excess salt, hormonal influences, muscles holding water due to a heavy workout, air travel, etc. etc., you might want to forego this practice and continue to weigh weekly. If you don’t have access to a scale, make sure that you promise to get on yours at home within a couple of days of returning so that if you did gain, you can begin to make plans to lose it and avoid possibly continuing to gain.
18. Make sure that you are getting lots of liquids to keep yourself feeling full and hydrated. Get in the habit of drinking water, decaf coffee or flavored tea when you need a snack or, drink them instead of having dessert.
19. Eat lots of veggies and lots of fiber-both will keep you full and less vulnerable to temptation. Take along a collapsible cooler so you can take lunch with you on your excursions.
20. Avoid gas station “stores”. If you are traveling by car, try to use the restroom at one of the many rest stops to avoid being triggered to want something unhealthy by the thousands of junk foods that await each person who walks into a service station mini market when getting gas. Overwhelming. Instead, bring a cooler of healthy snacks for yourself and your family to snack on between meals. Bring along some audio books. If you are traveling by car, bring along some audio books from the library to keep yourself amused or listen to saved pod casts. They will help you to avoid thinking about what you might eat as you are in the car between meals.
©Jamie Davidson. M.S., 2016
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