Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle on Vacation (or Anytime)

People take vacations every year and most find it so hard to maintain healthy nutrition and exercise habits while they’re away from their normal routine. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not easy to eat as healthy as you normally would or to exercise as much as you do while you’re out of your day to day routine. However, it’s not impossible and just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you have a valid excuse to give up the healthy habits you’ve worked hard to establish. It is important to enjoy your time with family or friends while you’re on vacation and it’s even more important to continue making healthy choices while you’re traveling, or anytime. Below are some tips on how you can keep living a healthy lifestyle no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

Go for a walk. You can conveniently walk at any time you choose, it’s simple, all you need is your body, and you can get in some exercise for the day. You can wake up and go for a walk first thing in the morning, so you get it checked off the to-do list or you can schedule a walk in between downtime with friends and family, while everyone is taking a nap you can go for a walk on the beach. Better yet, get everyone involved in the walk, schedule a group hike or guided tour which makes walking even more fun, you get to spend time taking in sights with your friends and family and everyone is getting exercise!

Add more water. Staying hydrated is important because even the slightest dehydration can trick you into thinking your hungry when you really aren’t. Personally, when I’m dehydrated I start craving sweetened beverages, and that’s my sign to go and drink a big glass, or 2, of water. Once I’m properly hydrated I no longer have a craving for soda or something sweet to drink because the water has provided me with what my body actually needs.

Don’t overindulge. Sure when you’re traveling it’s fun to try the different cuisines around the world and you certainly can, just don’t let the fact that you aren’t eating your normal nutrient dense foods be an excuse to eat everything in sight. Don’t deprive yourself of having a good time with everyone but take a step back and recognize that they might not have the same goals as you do. It’s okay to try some pizza when you’re in Italy (or a restaurant), but that doesn’t mean you have to eat an entire pizza, try sharing with your group, so you can have a slice and taste the authentic Italian flavors without over eating. Then when you go back home after your vacation don’t let the vacation eating habits turn into everyday eating habits. Remember, once in a while is okay and if you’re disciplined with the once and while habit your body won’t store the excess weight long term.

Load up on fruits and veggies. Besides being low in calories, adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet is beneficial because it provides you with the energy you need to stay active while you’re away from your normal routine. The vitamins and minerals your body receives from the fruits and vegetables will help control cravings for sugary and fatty foods by making sure you aren’t deficient in any vitamins that may be responsible for causing the craving in the first place. A deficiency in magnesium can cause your body to crave chocolate and a calcium deficiency can cause you to crave salty snacks, so it’s important to make sure your fruit and vegetable intake stays high to prevent any cravings that may lead to overeating. If you do decide that you want to treat yourself to a sugary or salty snack, something you may not normally eat, then be sure to control the portions, try sharing with someone, or only eat half of the serving.

These tips, when used in conjunction with discipline, will help prevent you from sabotaging your health and fitness efforts while you’re enjoying yourself on vacation, or anytime. Look at them, not only as tips, but as principles that you can live your life by. Not only when you’re on vacation but when you get invited to a birthday party and someone offers you cake, or you go out to dinner on Friday night with your friends and everyone is ordering fried food. Life is never going to be perfect, and trying to have a perfect nutrition plan 24/7 in an imperfect life is creating unrealistic expectations. If your friends order an appetizer of fried pickles, and you like fried pickles, then have a serving of fried pickles, following the above principles- don’t overindulge, load up on fruits and vegetables, add more water, and go for a walk. After you had a taste of the appetizer (i.e.; didn’t overindulge) you could order a salad or a veggie dish for your meal, drink water and not a sugary beverage, and go for a walk around the block when you get home from dinner. Living your life with a little more balance, like the example above, will allow you to have fun with your loved ones while still taking action towards reaching your goals.