Drink Beer On Vacation and Come Home Skinny

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! ;)


A Fit Girls Guide to Miami

For the past month or so I have been hanging out in Miami, Florida… South Beach to be specific. I LOVE this place, I literally walk around everywhere with my jaw dropped in awe of just how beautiful it is; the beach, the art deco buildings, the palm trees. When most people think of Miami/South Beach they think of a party town… and it can be like that, but there is also an awesome fitness culture here and some of the best gyms and activities I have found!

So if you want to come back from a Miami holiday feeling amazing and kicking ass at life, here are my suggestions:


Train at the World Famous 5th Street Boxing gym (Its actually on 15th and Alton, it moved but they kept the name). Really cool, authentic but clean boxing gym. Everyone is inviting and helpful and they have loads of group classes daily for beginners to pros. Many famous people have trained and still do train here. While you’re there speak to Donato and try a pair of Mason’s boxing gloves – new on the market and the best I’ve ever worn – made from real Italian leather.




Get in a callisthenic workout flipping around (or watch others flip around) the bars on the beach near Ocean Ave and 9th I was super inspired just watching the things people can do! The locals were super friendly; if you ask nicely people are often more than willing to try to teach you how to do their tricks too!



Have a meal at “Dirt Eat Clean”, a paleo place on 5th Their menu ranges from ultra-squeaky-clean-paleo to more liberal-yummy-paleo haha, so there is something fresh and healthy for everyone. If you like sushi, Moshi Moshi on Washington and Espanola Way is my fave… They have real crab meat and brown rice if you ask for it! And speaking of crab, the crab burger at Big Pink is a must (depending on your definition of healthy haha) and so sooo good.




Join the Lululemon running group at 7pm on a Thursday. They meet at the store on Lincoln Road and go for a 3-4 mile run (or run/walk for some). There are people of all fitness levels, and its more of a fun social event than anything, so get along and meet some awesome locals! There are usually about 40-60 people that go, but I am told they do another one in Brickell (15 mins drive away – and another place that is well worth checking out for restaurants/nightlife if you’re into that) same time on a Tuesday night that attracts around 400 runners!!


If running is your thing, then Miami is perfect! Its pretty much all flat and so beautiful to explore! The sand on the beach is also quite hard too (compared to in Australia anyway), so its pretty easy to run on. On days when I feel like a bit of a longer challenge, its really pretty to go running over any of the bridges to the “mainland”, especially at sunrise or sunset.



In between exercise sessions and eating, fill your days laying on the beach, shopping on Lincoln Road, chill at Starbucks on Ocean and people watch or get a massage.




Rent a car from Miami Beach car rentals (their number is +1 305 748 6301) – tell them Avril the Australian girl sent you; every time I have asked for “just the cheapest car” here, they always upgrade me to like a convertible or some other badass car haha. There are a lot of other awesome places and things to do outside of South Beach that will make getting a car definitely worth your while!





Train at Jaco Hybrid Training Centre in Boca Raton. This place is hands down the coolest functional gym I have ever been to. It actually reminds me of WickedBodz, my fitness centre at home in Australia, but on steroids (not literally haha). In addition to all the regular machines and weights etc, they have every piece of functional training equipment you could imagine (and even that you couldn’t imagine), a huge cross fit section, an even bigger MMA section (it’s home to the Blackzilians including a number of UFC fighters), and loads of group classes daily. Check it out, you will be amazed.



After the gym, you HAVE to go to Farmhouse Kitchen by Gary Rack. It’s one of those farm-to-table casual restaurants that has the most incredible and fresh salads, burgers and other meals. I usually get the Kale Yeah Salad (add chicken and avo and dressing on the side – and note: the pic below does not even do it justice as to how good it is) or the Veggie burger. And the sweet potato fries are a must.



Head to Deerfield Beach, also known by locals as “little Brazil”. It’s a beautiful little beach lined with restaurants, beach volleyball nets and SUP and especially on weekends there is plenty of action and great people watching.



I haven’t actually done this yet, but I really want to check out the Ninja Warrior gym in North Miami. Since the uprising of the TV show (American Ninja Warrior), apparently these gyms have been popping up all over the country and are super popular… and I can see why! Not only is it challenging and and awesome functional workout, but looks like so much fun!!




And after a healthy week, let your hair down over a beautiful brunch and a drink or five at Sea Spice in North Miami. It’s a casual affair with a very upmarket crowd, amazing views overlooking the water and even better music. SO much fun and goes on until late. You can get an Uber here from South Beach for not much more than $10.


I’ll be hanging out here for a little while longer, so if you have any other suggestions I would love to hear and go check them out! Let me know 


A Fit Girls Guide to Vietnam


I think when travelling, we are all tempted to splurge and over eat, but I know after a few days of that I always feel like crap, have no energy am avoiding bikini photos. So if I’m wanting to really enjoy and make the most of my holiday, being able to maintain some kind of healthy diet and exercise routine is essential. So how do you stay lean and still “relax and enjoy the trip” in a place where the national cuisine is noodles?


One of the best parts of visiting a foreign country is experiencing the local cuisine. And one of the best things about Vietnam is the bread. At first I was hesitant, as bread is something I usually try to avoid, especially in Asia. In my experience throughout Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, China and Hong Kong it’s more like eating stale fairy bread. Until my tour guide convinced me that they make it here like in France; light and fluffy and sugar free! Apparently back in the wartime days the French taught the Vietnamese how to make amazing bread… and she was right! Even the stuff I had off the street carts was as good as the best in France.

Another thing the Vietnamese do really well is eat their veggies. Almost every Vietnamese dish I tried had some kind of yummy salad of veggies with it. They use herbs and spices very well to make even the most bland of raw veggies taste good. And if “gluten free”, “wheat free” or “dairy free” is your thing (its not mine but each to their own), you’ll be in heaven here, as almost all the local dishes are made from rice or coconut milk. And even though they do seem to eat a lot of carbs, their portion sizes are small but filling which is perfect in my opinion.



And one of my favourite traditional desserts that you absolutely must try – Che Chuoi – is basically just stewed banana and coconut cream. So yummy, and actually pretty healthy! Ill post a recipe for this one later once I get home to experiment 😉


While I tried a lot of local food while I was out and about during the day, I mostly ate at hotel buffets for breakfast and dinner, as it was cheap (sometimes included) and had a lot of variety, which made it really easy to eat healthily.



The first day I was there I put on my running shoes and used the Google Maps app on my iPhone to take me for a stop-start running tour around the city. This is my favourite way to explore and get my bearings in a new place, and the main areas of Saigon are relatively close together so it was easy! I wouldn’t have run more than about 10-15km in the 2 ½ hours I was out for. Either not too many people run around outdoors in Saigon or the locals are just very friendly, but I received many words of broken-English encouragement from street vendors and shopkeepers that I ran past! I figured I was going to be sweating anyway, and it would give me an excuse to rehydrate with the fresh fruit shakes offered by the many street vendors. My favourite one was orange, kiwi, milk and ice… highly recommended.


The capital city is almost always warm (I went in “winter” and it was 37 degrees Celsius the night I arrived… normally 25-32 though), so having somewhere indoors and air-conditioned to train is nice. My first hotel didn’t have a gym and the rooms were small, however at the end of my trip I stayed at the Pullman Saigon Centre and the gym there was awesome! It’s a little more on the expensive side as far as Vietnam goes, but definitely worth the extra few $ (I think we only paid about $150/night anyway, as we got a great deal with the Accor Advantage Plus membership cards). The hotel itself is in a great spot, close to the market (you can get absolutely everything here, including yummy street food). It’s also close to California Fitness and Yoga that offers many classes daily including all different types of yoga.



Da Nang

Basically you have two options when staying in Da Nang – on the beach and out of the hustle and bustle in one of the luxury hotels, or in the city centre in the middle of all the action.

Da Nang is very flat, so awesome for running and bike riding (though also very spread out, so take a bike if you’re not prepared to run a half marathon). If you stay at one of the hotels along the beach, there is a great ride up the beach path from there to the Lady Buddha which is kind of like Da Nang’s version of “Christ the Redeemer”.

I stayed at the Pullman, which is a beautiful resort on the beach that offers water sports like surfing, SUP and ocean kayaking and there is goal posts set up for beach soccer (the picture at the top is also from this hotel). They also have a gym there – small, but has everything… weights and cardio machines, free weights, boxing bag, yoga mats and even TRX. They also have a big long grassy area between the main building and the pool that’s awesome for doing sprints and outdoor workouts. And the pool is big enough to swim laps.


The Pullman’s buffet/restaurant had many healthy options and were willing to accommodate any special requests… and the quality/freshness of food was incredible. Even more incredible when we worked out that it only cost us around $10 each for breakfast and around $15-20 for a 3 course dinner using our Accor Advantage Plus card (these are so worth looking into… It’s only about $250 for the basic membership and the 50% off food that you get pays itself off in just one trip!)

If you wanted to stay somewhere in the city, the Novotel was in a great riverside location, close to restaurants, markets and day spas. It has a 3-level rooftop bar here (Sky36) that has beautiful views of the city. And it had one of the biggest and nicest gyms that I went to! No boxing set up though, but they did have 4 daily yoga classes of all different types at about $15 per class (even for hotel guests). You don’t actually even need to be staying here to use the gym or do the classes, you can just come and pay to use it (it is free for hotel guests). They also have an indoor lap pool and you can use your Accor card for 50% off food here too!



Hoi An

Hoi An is world heritage listed, and probably the least commercialised city I think I’ve ever been to… I didn’t even see a McDonald’s, let alone any kind of retail chain or gym. We stayed at the Grand Royal, which was a bargain about half way between the beach and the town (5 mins drive or 30 mins walk to either). It was nothing flash, but one of the best things about this hotel was the free push-bikes that you could take out for the day. We rode in a big loop out to the beach, then along the coastline, back to the city centre and then back to the hotel which was a 80-90 min slow cruise.


There was also a little gym about 500m up the road… Going there was an experience in itself! Ill paint a picture for you… A 5 x 10m “pen” with rusted old weights machines, plates, benches, dumbells and a few shirtless young local guys, covering almost every inch of its unevenly concreted floor. You can imagine the funny looks we got walking in as 2 white girls in brightly coloured gym gear. But it only cost $2.50 for a day pass and did the job.


As far as food goes, there are sooo many authentic yummy Vietnamese restaurants to choose from. Our favourite was “Morning Glory”; both the eggplant and pumpkin side dishes are a MUST! For a main I had the BBQ’d chicken leg and my girlfriend had the ginger chicken; perfect examples of herbs and spices making food taste better than unhealthy fatty sauce ever could. I wish we had more time to do the cooking class here! The breakfast buffet at the hotel was pretty good too, and free   I loved their yoghurt – it was like a natural non-sugary one that came in cute little glass jars that I topped with banana.



I only had the chance to visit Saigon (Ho Chi Minh), Danang and Hoi An. When I booked the trip, I didn’t really know where to go or what there was to do in different places. But as it goes with travelling, you often find out about all the best spots to go just through talking to other travellers while there. Nha Trang, Phu Quoc and Hanoi are three of those, so I will write a little about what others told me to do there.

Nha Trang is one of the most popular beach spots with islands off of it apparently also with a visit. Phu Quoc is an island over the other side of the Vietnamese peninsular, closer to Koh Samui, that is also supposed to be beautiful, and almost always perfect weather (so we were told). Hanoi is the “northern capital” way up the top, supposed to be very cultural and beautiful.

If you have been to any of the places I missed, I’d love to hear your feedback and tips, as I’ll definitely be returning some day soon! And I hope this helps for anyone planning a trip!