Have you spent months preparing yourself to look and feel amazing for your vacation? Have you invested time and energy into establishing healthy patterns into your daily life?
As a personal trainer, I have seen many, if not all, of my clients, answer “yes” to both of these questions, only to lose traction after returning home. Often people depart feeling strong, lean, and fit but then return feeling bloated, sluggish, and sick. While vacations are definitely a place to stray from your regular routine and enjoy some indulgences, there is no reason why you can’t bring your good habits along with you! FitCations offer the best of both worlds — you can balance the good things in life while sustaining the great things in life.
- Have a plan. Most of us follow a routine in our daily lives, so there might be a little resistance to the idea of planning workouts during your vacation. The reality is that a bit of forethought will make the difference between sustaining the good habits that you spend all year creating and being derailed by your time off. The best-laid plan is a flexible one. You don’t want to rely on having a gym at your hotel or rental (although it’s a bonus if there is one). Do a little reconnaissance ahead of time to see what’s near you. Give yourself as many options as possible so that you can be spontaneous if that’s your idea of a vacation, but leave yourself enough structure so that you don’t flounder and decide to skip it.
- Workout first thing in the morning before you talk yourself out of it. Wake up, have some coffee and a snack, and just get it done! Not only will you bask in the self-righteousness of having your workout completed, but you will also benefit by moving better, with warm muscles, for the rest of the day. As a bonus, this also makes you more resilient to injuries that might occur in your unfamiliar environment.
- Consider scheduling an active vacation. Hiking, biking, exercise retreats, yoga retreats — the sky is the limit! Often you can pick a location and Google what types of adventures are available there. Or choose a style of trip (i.e., biking trip) and research different areas.
Below are a few suggestions that I give my clients as they prepare for their next vacation.
- Bring lightweight workout tools. Resistance bands are quite versatile can be packed into a small pouch plus they are lightweight! You can also find various options for travel yoga mats that’ll allow you to workout on any surface. I have a mat that looks like a beach towel, but it actually has a grippy side for yoga or mat exercises.
- Stream your favorite bodyweight workout from your phone, iPad, or laptop. Fitness classes have gone digital! You can find many options for yoga classes or boot camp style high-intensity workouts online. Find a few that you like ahead of time as part of your vacation prep list. I also recommend downloading a few on your phone in case the WiFi is unreliable.
Stair workouts are a quick and efficient way to get your heart rate up and burn through the previous night’s dessert. To make it hardcore, you can even throw in some pushups or planks between flights for an extra burn. I prefer to find long flights of stairs outside, but I have used hotel stairways too — just be sure the doors are unlocked from the stairwell.
- Walk, don’t ride. Don’t underestimate the power of walking as you sightsee. 20-minute walks, several times a day, can add up into a lot of steps. When touring the Coliseum and Forum in Rome, I was surprised to see that I had walked a half marathon! Walking also allows you to see the details that you otherwise would zoom by in a taxi or bus.
- Keep it short and simple — you’re on vacation! You don’t need to carve out a ton of time to get a good workout in. 30 minutes is plenty to maintain your fitness level.
Create the opportunity to choose a healthy meal alternative, at least once a day. Find a small grocery store nearby where you can get healthy staples. That way, you will be less likely to overeat while you go out to eat. I bring packets of oatmeal, fruit, or protein bars for breakfast or a quick snack and generally, keep it light at lunch. I save my biggest indulgences for dinner. Never pass on the gelato!
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Changes in the weather, plane flights, and unfamiliar food can lead to inflammation and bloating. Keeping yourself hydrated will help combat some of these effects and help you stay in balance, so you have the energy for your vacation.
- But most of all, enjoy yourself without guilt. Do not stress about having that croissant or deciding to spend a day lying by the pool. Balance your activity level with a few down days to truly let your body and spirit recover from the grind of your daily life. You will return replenished and ready to resume your regular routine. Remember, the best habits for health are sustainable, not patterns that you need a vacation FROM.