Health-Conscious Vacation Tips

Some health nuts and fit freaks stay on point all vacation long, hitting the hotel gym every day and tracking every macro to the gram. They eschew treats and order grilled chicken breasts and salad at every restaurant. I'm not one of those people. I like to find a balance between being able to enjoy some indulgences while not falling completely off the wagon and hating myself when I stagger off the plane. 

If you are prepping for a competition, show, or meet, you will want to stick to your program. But if you are a regular person who is trying to stay fit and have fun at the same time, here are my top five tips to enjoy your time off and still board the flight home without exceeding the cargo weight limit: 


You don't necessarily have to go to the gym every day to stay active. One of the best things you can do is initially plan activities that keep everyone engaged and burn some of those extra vacation calories. Things like skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, rock climbing, or swimming are fun to do and provide a sense of accomplishment for the day. However, if it is the type of trip where the majority of time will be spent sacked out on a sun chair, try to take a walking tour, hit the gym or go for a run every morning. Then, sack out. You'll feel a lot better about yourself if you simply do something first. 


One of the quickest ways to derail your healthy lifestyle is by overindulging in alcohol, whether you are on vacation or not. All those fluorescent cocktails are punch-drunk with tons of useless calories. Seriously, you can easily chug 300-500 calories in alcohol without even getting too hammered. Not only that, but alcohol slows your metabolism - and you - down. Next thing you know, you are eating more food to sop up the booze and "cure" your slight hangover the following day. It's a domino effect that leads to those few extra pounds you see creep up within the month. Save getting silly for a special night or two. There's no need to be lit the entire trip. 


Maybe the day goes off track, perhaps something takes longer than you thought it would or no one will make up their minds... what ever it is, delay is inevitable and you will end up really hungry or really "hangry" at one point or another. When you do finally end up eating, you will most likely inhale everything set before you and things will become totally uncomfortable all over again, just in the opposite way. Nip this disaster in the bud by always carrying your own snacks. Protein bars are great. They are small, portable and fill you up between meals, so you are never bottomed out. They also serve as a great breakfast substitute, instead of eating the typical high sugar/calorie/carb offerings. 


When you are sampling the local cuisine or hitting the popular spots, you don't have to order the full experience at every restaurant. Save the big, beautiful meals and fancy desserts for the "must eat" places, not every food service establishment with (or without) chairs and a table. If you are at a no-name place, or chain restaurant, order the grilled chicken and steamed vegetables without desserts and appetizers, instead of the breaded stuffed meat and cheese bomb with fries. We get lost in this notion that everything is special on vacation, but we all know the reality: not every restaurant is special. If you have to eat mediocre food, at least do it in a way that saves you thousands of calories.  


When you're on vacation, you feel subject to all the deep-fried batter, queso landslides and "donkey sauce" the menu offers. Occasionally if you stay in a condo or suite, there is a kitchen you can stock for healthy, cooked meals, but chances are you will do most of your eating on the fly. It is okay to ask for substitutions! In fact, it's essential. Ask for a side of steamed veggies instead of fries, ask for your burger without the bun, hold dressing on the side or ask for no sauce. You do not have to be beholden to the menu. If you are a polite and pleasant human being, no one will spit in your food. Promise. You do not need fries with that, for every single meal. 

Basically, if you plan ahead, you can cut out some of the overeating and get some activity in each day. If you can keep a balance and remain moderate with alcohol, you should walk away from your trip feeling both relaxed AND accomplished, without gaining a bunch of weight.