I have begun to accrue a reputation among my friends, that when you go on a holiday with me you are going to come back leaner. Some lovingly refer to it as fitness camp, rather than vacation. Though what they are also surprised to discover is that I do love a drink or 2 (or 4) and I eat dessert most days. And how much more fun there is to be had when we make the effort and have the energy to DO things, rather than just lay around the pool drinking cocktails all day. So with Spring upon us and Summer holidays around the corner, I thought I’d share what everyone wants to know: a few of my tips that make this all possible.
- Wake up, work out. If you’re a person that likes to eat before a work out, keep some fruit in your hotel room. This negates the excuse of having the timely ordeal that holiday breakfasts can be, or eating too much and end up skipping the workout bit. Eat the big breakfast after the workout. When you’re on holiday, you’re there to relax and enjoy the luxury of spontaneous decisions… so if you leave the workout until later in the day, chances are it won’t happen. Get it done first thing and you’ll feel amazing the rest of the day. Maybe you might even find the time for a second workout later. Or a nap. Or both. Ahhhh my favourite things about holidays haha.
- Eat the right amounts of all the food groups (carbs, protein, fats, fruit, veg, dairy/alternatives). Even though the choices might not be as lean or low-calorie as what you’re used to making at home, if you can at least satisfy your nutritional needs, you’re going to have less cravings and more energy to be active and burn it off. And if you’re full up on the foods your body needs, you’ve got less room for junk. Learn how to eat at a buffet.
- But chances are with all the yummy food around, you’re probably going to overeat. The great thing about being on vacation is that you don’t have a set schedule whereby you have to squeeze in each meal. So, listen to your body. If you eat a breakfast so big that you’re not hungry again until 6pm, don’t eat until 6 or 7pm. Don’t feel obliged to force in another meal at 1pm just because its “lunch time”; only eat when you are hungry. I believe it’s 90% this tip alone that is the reason I almost always come home from a trip skinnier than when I left.
- Eat bigger meals early in the day so that by the evening you are not really hungry and don’t end up overeating at dinner and therefore for the day as a result.
- If you’re going to have a few drinks, start at lunch time. If you first eat a full days’ worth of food until you’re satiated, and then add alcohol calories on top of that, you’re probably going to go over your necessary caloric intake (and therefore gain weight). But if you spread your drinks over the day, when it comes to meal time, your body it going to feel half full already and (if you listen to it) you’ll eat less. Clearly drinking your calories in alcohol is not a healthy way to conduct life or maintain a lean body on the regular, but hey, we all enjoy a drink or 4 to relax on holiday, so as long as its 4 and not 20, this is the best way I have come up with to fit it in. Plus, by starting earlier you’ll probably go to bed earlier and get a better night’s sleep. 😉
- On that note, choose drinks that are lower in sugar and that make you feel fuller, eg. beer, wine and white spirits. Avoid dark spirits, soft drink/pop soda, juice etc, instead go for water/mineral water/tonic and fresh lemon or lime as mixers. Make sure you drink a glass of water between each drink.
- Walk everywhere possible and do at least one active pursuit each day (on top of your daily workout). The more you move, the more you burn… even just tapping your feet while you’re sitting around burns a few calories. When I recently did a 5 day hike through the mountains of Peru, I drank more beer than I have all year in those 5 days. We were walking an average of 15km a day at what I would consider only a slow/medium pace and doing no other exercise than that, though I actually managed to come home a few pounds lighter than when I left! But all day I was on my feet, moving around, laughing so hard, having an amazing time, drinking beers from lunch time and usually in bed by 8pm because we were so exhausted (and sometimes drunk haha).
Enjoy your holidays! And a beer or 4! ;)