Ah, yes. We all have those times when we are away from home. Whether it’s on a business trip, away at college, visiting friends, or going on vacation, it can be tough to maintain the healthy habits you have established at home. That got me thinking of a new series or articles providing tips to be healthy and fit in various situations.
The first up is one that many of us will be taking part in over the next few weeks of summer: vacation.
My Current Status: Surrounded
You may be wondering what the motivating factor was behind me writing about staying healthy on vacation. It’s because I’m surrounded. Not only am I surrounded by family and fun, but also snacks. Tons and tons of snacks and unhealthy food. We are blessed enough to be able to take a beach vacation, but it can very easily turn into a health disaster.
Perhaps you have had the same experience when you have gone away. Either you are staying in a hotel, where you only option is to eat out at restaurants or you are in a situation where everyone cooking is in nutritional vacation mode. It can be extremely tough, because you want to take part in the festivities. In fact, it might make you miserable not to!
I’m currently looking at the snack bar at our beach house that is in open, plain view. You name it, we have it. M&M’s in two varieties, chips upon chips, popcorn, nuts, soda, and on and on. Now don’t get me wrong, my family is reasonably healthy and no one is obese. However, on vacation, the rules of health and wellness can become let’s just say…loose.
It doesn’t end there. We generally cook more healthy meals at home. I try to add vegetables and make the unhealthy meals more healthy. However, at the beach house, we aren’t the ones doing all the cooking. Everyone takes turns. Here is our menu for the week:
- Saturday: Chili with bread and salad
- Sunday: Brown sugar-glazed meatloaf with creamed spinach, bacon and corn casserole, and marscapone mashed potatoes
- Monday: BBQ pulled pork, mac and cheese, and salad
- Tuesday: Boardwalk pizza
- Wednesday: BBQ Chicken with salad
- Thursday: Chicken Taco bar with black beans, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, and various salsas
- Friday: Baked ziti with sausage with salad
Yeah. As you can see, there is potential to over-indulge all over the place here.
Additionally, because we are in a resort town, there are plenty of opportunities to eat unhealthy out of the house too. Ice cream is a big treat down the shore, and there are some great places to get it.
So how on earth am I going to survive this week, and how on earth can you survive your own weeks when sticking to healthy habits can be, at minimum, improbable? Well, I’ve put together a few tips that I will be following during my own vacation week. I hope you find that they work for you!
Tip #1: Control Your Portion Size
As you can see from the menu above, overeating is a real danger this week for me. The temptation is going to be to overload the plate, because everything is going to taste really good.
However, it can be managed by simply controlling the portion size. I’m not going to abstain from eating the delicious food, just control the amount I’m eating. This also goes for breakfast and lunch.
Additionally, making sure to have salad and fruit take up a good portion of the plate will cut down on the amount of room for the unhealthy stuff.
It will take will-power, especially since many of these meals are not what my family normally eats at home. However, long term goals don’t have to be totally thrown away with a week of overeating. So portion as you would normally portion at home and you will limit the amount of extra calories you take in.
Tip #2: Control Your Snacking
This is the biggest challenge for me. I love Peanut M&M’s. In fact, if I always had them at home, I wouldn’t have the credibility to write for a fitness website. They are my weakness. They are my kryptonite.
I can do without the soda, chips, and other snacks. But good gosh, I could probably finish a 5lb canister of Peanut M&M’s in a couple of days (translated: hours).
Chances are, you may be in close contact with your favorite snacks while on vacation. The key is to try as best you can to control the urges to snack. One thing that I try are instead of snacking throughout the day is I only do so if we are doing a family game night.
Another option is to keep healthier choices around, along with the unhealthy ones. We have a bunch of fruit as well as the different candies and chips.
Now, it’s hard to choose the fruit in the moment, so a good idea is to come up with a plan. Some ideas may include:
- Planning on only fruit before dinnertime
- Taking fruit with us down to the beach instead of the unhealthy snack. Snacking often takes the path of the least resistance. Therefore, if I take fruit to the beach instead of M&M’s, I won’t want to walk back to the house to get the unhealthy snack since the healthy is within reach.
- Limiting yourself to only a couple throughout the day (This takes a bigger amount of will-power, but if yours is strong already, it may not be too much of a stretch).
- Have an accountability partner who can keep you on track during the week. They can help get your mind off of doing something unhealthy and get it on doing something positive
If you snack, try to do so responsibly and with a plan.
Tip #3: Stick To Your Exercise Plan
If you walk every day at home, walk every day on vacation. If you run every other day at home, do the same on vacation. If you do online workouts, bring your computer to continue doing them. If you lift weights at home, consider taking a look at certain types of workout equipment that you can easily transport to other places.
In fact, I wrote a review for a really great product that is super portable, inexpensive (for what you get), and helped me to build 20lbs of muscle! Check out that review for Bodylastics by clicking HERE!
Don’t change your exercise routine just because you are in a different place. There are plenty of workouts that you can do either outdoors (especially at a beach vacation) or indoors that don’t require a huge amount of equipment or space. It is possible to stay active, even during a relaxing vacation!
In all actuality, exerting yourself with exercise will probably make the times you’re relaxing all that much sweeter. For one, you will be tired from the workout and ready to relax, but also have peace of mind because you’ll feel like you’ve earned that relaxation!
Tip #4: RELAX
The first three tips are important and I would recommend following during your next vacation. However, if you slip up and eat a little much at dinner, if you snack a little more than you think you should, or if you miss a workout, don’t get down on yourself.
You are on vacation. You have worked really hard every day to get the chance to go away, so take advantage of it. Soak up some sun, eat some good food, and enjoy the time with family.
My point in the first three tips is to let you know it is possible to get through the week without it being a total disaster. However, a few days (or even one week) of relaxing your routine is not some great sin. It is not going to completely derail you once you get back home.
Going overboard with control can be just as detrimental to your health and happiness as going overboard with indulging. That’s why I always advocate for a middle ground where you can enjoy yourself. After all, what is vacation for anyway?
Going away on vacation doesn’t mean you have to completely give up the healthy habits that you have established at home. Sure, it does take a little more will-power and self-control, but you don’t have to be fighting a losing battle. With a little pre-planning and sticking to your exercise routine, any vacation can be a healthy and guilt-free experience.
I hope these tips to be healthy and fit on vacation will be helpful to you the next time you get away. Now, it’s your turn!
Where do you and your family like to vacation? Do you try to stay active and stick to your routines when you go away? What is the snack or food item that gets you every time? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below as well as your thoughts on the tips I have provided.
What would you like to see from a future article? What topic would you like me to discuss? Let me know!
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to leave them below and I will do my best to give a helpful answer.
Until next time, vacation well!