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Five-star meals, pina coladas and long days lounging in the sun aren’t necessarily a recipe for fitness, but indulgent summer vacations are the perfect cure to a seemingly endless winter of short days and long work hours. And contrary to what many travelers believe, it’s possible to stay fit and healthy on vacation while still enjoying some of those indulgent moments you wait for all winter long.
We’ve all done it before — headed back to the buffet for a third round of fried seafood or ordered another strawberry daquiri with whipped cream on top — and said to our friends, “What? I’m on vacation!”
Before you board the plane for your anticipated vacation, whether you’re headed to the mountains, the ocean or the city, promise yourself you won’t use the “I’m on vacation” excuse. Travelers who tend to use this all-out mentality tend to gain fat while their strength and energy levels are depleted. Even worse, instead of feeling relaxed and refreshed when they return, these travelers feel uncomfortable, guilty or even stressed about losing the excess weight.
Now that you’ve determined you won’t go all-out and use the “I’m on vacation” excuse, it’s also important to realize that you won’t be able to keep your daily workout and eating habits while you’re away. Vacation is — after all — vacation, and you won’t be hitting the gym every evening or falling asleep at your typical time every night.
By simply trying to keep your vacation diet as similar to your usual diet as you can — by eating similar amounts of foods at similar times throughout the day — you can help maintain your at-home body weight.
While your vacation exercise routine may not include free weights and treadmills, you can use your outdoor surroundings as a way to stay in shape while taking in the sites. If you’re near the ocean, head out for a long swim or take a stand-up paddleboarding or surfing lesson. If you’re vacationing in the mountains, stay fit with a long hike or take rock-climbing lessons. And if you’re taking a vacation to the city, put on your walking shoes and opt for getting from one destination to the other on foot. Wherever you’re traveling, it’s likely there’s a place for you to get out and try a new adventure, challenge yourself and get some exercise.
Every good vacation involves tasting the local cuisine of the place you’re visiting, but that doesn’t mean you have to indulge in glutenous (and pricey) meals out every night. If you’re staying in a vacation rental, condo or hotel suite with a kitchen, you can shop at unique marketplaces and whip up healthy meals with fresh, local ingredients. And when you do indulge in those much-anticipated vacation snacks or evenings out, try to ensure your other snacks and meals that day are smaller and on the healthier side.
For many travelers, indulging in a few poolside drinks is an essential part of a much-needed vacation, but those alcoholic drinks can be laden with sugars, salts and calories. Although, that doesn’t mean you need cut back those relaxing drinks entirely, you just need to choose healthier drink options. Try making your own tropical drinks with fresh-squeezed juices and whole fruits instead of sugary substitutes. And instead of choosing the jumbo-size beer or margarita, opt for a standard 8-ounce portion.
So before you write off your vacation as a time to pig out, or try to spend a week in France without eating a single crepe, remember that you can stay fit while still indulging in your favorite vacation foods and activities.