Vacation is a marvelous way to escape day to day obligations. While you are away it is essential to use the time to relax and recharge. Before a big getaway you may put extra effort into your diet and exercise routine to look and feel your very best in your vacation wardrobe. Use this guide to easily continue your healthy momentum so you come home feeling light and energized. Isn’t that what a vacation is for?
Over the years I have lost, maintained, and gained weight while on vacation. Each time the key to success or a weighty surprise has been in the planning.
Now, I coach my weight loss clients to use the simple strategies I used for their vacations. Clients come home thrilled to share how the tips helped them stay on track during a vacation. Arriving home with their momentum still going is a huge confidence booster. Most confess they enjoyed their vacation time more thanks to these instructions. Shifting the focus away from food let them relax in an entirely new way. The results are boosted energy, time to play with their kids, increased sense of peace, and exploring more than previous vacations.
You can have the same results as my clients, lose weight on vacation and have the best trip possible, by following these simple steps.
Set Your Goal
Before you put so much as a sandal in your suitcase, ask yourself: “Do I want to gain, lose, or maintain my weight during this vacation?” Be honest. Recommit to your goal daily while you are away.
Share your goal with another person. This is a conversation for the glass-half-full folks in your life. The best accountability buddies is someone who already supports your healthy goals. Ask you buddy to help you strategize your healthy vacation plans. If possible, connect with your buddy once or twice while you are away.
Where You Stay Matters
Vacation booking sites like Airbnb and HomeAway make it easy to have a kitchen on your vacation. A self-catering vacation is the ultimate way to keep track of your eating. You don’t have to cook every meal, you don’t even need to cook, but having a space to keep fresh food cold and prepare snacks is a huge benefit for healthy eating – not to mention economical.
If you aren’t booking an full home away from home try to get a room with a refrigerator. Stock your room with easy to grab food like fruit, vegetables, and yogurt. Use your ingredients make a healthy breakfast or quick snack. This trick alone can save you hundreds of calories a day. These simple meals free up precious vacation hours that would have been lost waiting for food in restaurants. Use the time you save to maximize your time away.
Pack The Right Shoes
Planning to be active is planning to hit your health goals and walks are key to losing weight on vacation. If you only pack flip-flops or light-weight shoes you are cheating yourself out of the option of enjoying some serious activity. Sturdy running or walking shoes will keep your feet comfortable for many miles. Bring a tote bag to carry your “cute” shoes so you can change your footwear throughout the day. You never know what wonders you’ll find off the beaten path.
Be especially aware of your need to get in those sips if you are visiting a warm destination or are more active than a typical day at home. Not drinking enough water can cause fatigue, headaches, stiff joints, and more. Staying hydrated is important for avoiding water retention and can also keep your body feeling more comfortable in general.
It is easy to confuse thirst with hunger signals, which can compromise your healthy eating plan. Pack a water bottle then top it off every chance you get. Start every meal and snack with a glass of water. Try sparkling water to make your hydration break vacation worthy.
This is the fun part! Find an active way to enjoy your vacation spot every day. Vacations are an opportunity to completely step away from the stress of real life. Being active reduces stress, boosts energy and it’s great for your brain. Staying active will help you lose weight on vacation. Best of all, getting active as a family is sure to create cherished memories for your kids.
There are so many ways to stay active on vacation. Here are just a few ideas: Rent bicycles. Take a break from laying by the pool and actually go for a swim. Set up a family relay race or scavenger hunt. Plan a hike to get out and explore the natural wonders of your vacation spot. Sign up for a walking or bike tour to get an in-depth introduction to the region. A little pre-departure internet scouting can pull up popular activities are at your destination, make advance reservations if needed.
Hit the Gym
If you are a regular at the gym at home keep up the routine while you are away. Many hotels, cruises, and rental communities have gyms available for vacationers. Even if you aren’t usually a gym rat vacation is a perfect time to get in a workout or two. Go first thing in the morning and set your intentions for the day with a few miles on the elliptical. The more ways you fit exercise into your day the more likely you are to achieve your goal to lose weight on vacation.
Eat for Fuel
Sorry to break it to you but the calories consumed on vacation absolutely count. I use the mantra, “food is fuel,” to keep my healthy eating goals in mind. I repeat my mantra before snacking, visiting a restaurant or ordering for a second cocktail. At every meal, aim to fill your plate with simply prepared vegetables, fruits, lean protein, and whole grains. A colorful salad with grilled fish is will provide plenty of energy for an afternoon of exploring.
Pick a “Fun” Meal
Eating to lose weight on vacation does not need to be an exercise in austerity. You’ve got three meals a day to play with, designate one a day to splash out a little. Don’t miss out foods unique to where you are visiting — plan for them. If you visit a famous barbecue joint, treat yourself to the specialty of the house. Maintain a balance by keeping your other meals light and simple. When you eat mindfully through the day you’ll be less likely to go overboard with your “fun” meal.
Plan a Splurge
This may, or may not be, in place of your “fun” meal. I’m a big fan of frozen desserts. At some point in any trip I will treat myself to gelato, frozen yogurt, or ice cream. Planning when this treat will happen makes it easier to turn other temptations that are sure to appear.
Pack a Picnic
A picnic gives you so many more options for where, when, and what you eat. There is no reason to stay in the crowded tourist spots or endure long waits for each meal. Additionally, food shopping is a chance to peek at life as a local wherever you are visiting.
Stop in at a local produce market or neighborhood shop to pick up some easy to eat options. Whole fruits or vegetables are portable and refreshing on hot days. Rinse them before leaving the store so you can grab a bite whenever and wherever you feel hungry. Many stores (and even coffee shops) offer hard boiled eggs, yogurt, and small packages of cheese for on-the-go protein. To make a complete meal, add whole grain crackers or bread to complete your picnic spread.
If possible, bring a cooler, paper plates, napkins, a cutting board and knife – this expands your picnic options.
Skip Happy Hour
Don’t sabotage your healthy eating by drinking your calories. To avoid overindulgence, delay any alcohol until later in the day before adding alcohol. Soda water with lime and mint leaves is a great alternate for vodka tonic. Plan to have your one drink with dinner or dessert and sip other things the rest of the day. Waking to a hangover free morning is another way to keep your health goal on track.
Be Sun Savvy
Heat and sun exposure can cause your body to retain fluid. You may notice your joints become stiff or your rings are tight. The swelling will reduce in a few days. In the mean time, the scale to go up, not ideal when your goal is to lose weight on vacation. Sunburns will also cause swelling. So, this should go without saying, wear sunscreen! I don’t care what color you are please, PLEASE slather on some SPF.
Keep your Priorities in Order
Before heading out the door, take time to honestly consider your primary vacation goals. Do you want to connect with family, see new scenery, explore an unfamiliar city, visit museums, or sit in peace and read a paperback a day? Focus your vacation activities on your true desire so food is less important.
Make Memories that Last
With 1 exception, I have no childhood memories of specific vacation meals. The food memories I do have are fireside camp dinners or roadside picnics, not restaurants. Some of the best memories are of spontaneous moments from our trips. I will never forget my dad accidentally throwing a snowball through the window of our minivan at Crater Lake. Of course, nothing will beat the awe of walking up to the Disney Land gates for the first time.
Sure, people take foodie vacations but even those can be enjoyed in a healthy way. By following these simple guidelines, you can have a great trip and lose weight on vacation.
More ways to stay healthy and lose weight on vacation
8 Healthy Snacks You Can Bring On A Plane from The Travel Bite
9 Reasons You’ll Lose Weight Traveling: Travel weight loss is a snap if you visit the right part of the world from The Happy Passport