Summertime is almost over, but that doesn’t mean we don’t stop taking vacations! Wearing a bathing suit is a big incentive to keep many people on a healthy nutritional plan but hanging out at the beach for a few days relaxing under the hot sun may be enough to derail even the most stringent health nut! And what about winter vacations? It is natural to want to eat more after a day of skiing or sitting by the fireplace. I just returned from a few days on the New Jersey shores of Atlantic City and as I was exploring the city, I started thinking about how difficult it can be to stay on a healthy track during vacation!
What habits do we take on while away from our regular schedule? How do they differ from our everyday routine? As my husband and I were observing people and thinking about American culture, I realized it is apparent that vacations and beachy boardwalks equal pizza parlors galore, fried foods and ice cream stands EVERYWHERE! Vacations are celebrated with food and drink. I think back to my teen years when I went to the beach. Hitting the pizza and ice cream shops at night never fazed me and I enjoyed my food without any guilt. Now, as a fitness professional, I carefully select my foods, plan meals, exercise daily and try to get plenty of rest and water. So, why do we derail so easily? What should we do?
Try to eat healthy most of the trip while allowing some moments to indulge a bit. I know of people who do NOT deviate from their meal plans no matter where they are, and I know people who completely blow the healthy habits out the window. I also know each person is different and what works for one may not work for the next! It comes down to figuring that out and then sticking to it during vacation. I knew that on my way home from the beach I would be passing one of my favorite creameries which serves the best homemade ice cream I’ve ever had and I didn’t want to feel guilty eating it. Knowing this I had an easier time passing up the tempting smells all along the boardwalk and in the hotel restaurants. It’s about finding balance in each meal or in each day!! Maybe you can do a little research on the restaurant menus ahead of time and scout out some healthy options. Pack fruits or healthy snacks to take during the day in case of hunger.
We were at the beach for three days. What did I do? I drank water with every meal, didn’t snack between meals because we were out and about all day long and I tried to get vegetables in two out of three meals everyday. Salads were substituted for French fries but I did have some breakfast potatoes and whole-wheat toast with my vegetable omelets, which I do not do at home. It’s give and take; Evening meals were no longer multiple full plates at the casino buffet and I stuck to the 10-minute rule. Eat the first course slowly and wait 10 minutes before going back for seconds. Hunger may be satiated by then and 10 minutes is enough for your body to send out “I’m full” signals to your brain to curb overeating! Stay active each day as much as possible. We walked the four-mile boardwalk and were on our feet much of the day. Most importantly however, try to relax and enjoy the time away. It’s not fun to constantly count calories or stress about making it to the hotel gym every morning. While I packed my workout clothes, we didn’t make it to the gym because of the high daily use fees, so we spent time at the pool, walking the boardwalk and taking the stairs to stay active. I reminded myself that life is about enjoying the moments we are in and finding a balance is part of the enjoyment process. The rigorous exercise routine will be waiting for us back at home, along with our regimented eating patterns. It is necessary to give our bodies and mind a break every now and then. What are some of your tips and tricks for vacation time?