04 Jan Travel and Stay Trim
For me, 2014 ended with a trip to Argentina.
The point of a vacation is to spend time with friends and family and to take a break from the ordinary—to explore a new environment, to taste delicious foods and flavors, to forget about your Gmail inbox.
We are accustomed to believe that a vacation inevitably ends in weight gain, but this misconception is just an excuse to be lazy. Vacations are thought of as “anti-diets,” but indulging to such an extreme is not worth it. Once we open the door to our homes we become flooded with guilt and insecurities.
Think of a vacation as a “healthy diet,” a revamp of wellness and inner peace. Neither gorging at mealtime nor maintaining a rigid diet and exercise plan constitutes as healthy vacation behavior. The key is balance: laughing over a bottle of wine at dinner, enjoying a gelato cone in the sunshine, and embarking on a short nature run are some new and exciting experiences that should be shared and appreciated.
Not only did I prevent the dreaded weight gain, but I feel rejuvenated and even slimmer than I did twelve days ago. I listened to my body and tried new things—I let myself go.
Here are some tips to remember when travelling:
Seek Out Adventure
Take advantage of nature trails, parks and mountains. Whether it’s a hike or a morning run, make exercise a priority. Get outside and experience the new city, country, whatever atmosphere you are in.
If you’re with a group of people, ask what the plans are for the day ahead of time and plan your exercise accordingly. Perhaps ask, “What time do you think we will be back before dinner?” or “What time are we all meeting for breakfast tomorrow?” and work your session around the itinerary.
Stay out of the gym—the thought of climbing an elliptical machine or strength training on vacation feels strenuous. Instead, pick an activity that doesn’t feel ordinary. I chose to run outside and explore new parks, trails and areas of Argentina in the beautiful summer weather. It felt liberating and easy, and I also cut down on my usual exercise time, allowing my body to rest.
Be A Tourist
It’s surprising how many calories you can burn by just leisurely exploring a new area. Stay active and distracted—by keeping busy, food will be far from your mind. Eat socially, and try for on-the-go when possible.
It’s Ok To Be Wasteful
Different environments offer novel tastes, textures and flavors, and you deserve to try a bit of everything. Argentina boasts delicious steak, ice cream, Malbec and Torrontes wines, olive oils, and more. It’s worth it to enjoy yourself and take advantage of specialties that we do not necessarily have access to at home.
My rule: take three bites or sips and move on. It’s ok to throw out the remainder or offer it to a travel companion. If that’s too challenging for you, choose one or two indulgences—for instance, if you want steak and wine for dinner, save the gelato cone for another day.
Get Some Sleep
Aim for 6-8 hours most nights, as a good night’s rest minimizes sugar cravings the next day. Choose a couple nights to stay out late, but give yourself days in between to take it easy and catch up on some hours. By maintaining a relatively normal sleep cycle, you’ll have both more energy to “be a tourist” and an easier adjustment to home life.
For nights out, head to a club or dance bar. Dancing is both fun and a workout!
Fill Up On Produce
Many destinations provide breakfast buffets, fresh markets and local produce. There were numerous markets in Argentina with ripe mangos, vegetables, peaches and cherries, and I frequented them often for healthful snacks. Since most meals on vacation tend to be heavier, make snacks light and nutrient-rich. Try local fruits that you have never had before! Fruits like guava, starfruit and papaya are not always easy to find.
Also, start the day off on a healthy note—opt for yogurt, fruit, coffee and eggs over fatty cheeses and pastries. With a clearer mind and greater levels of satiation, you’ll be more likely to make healthier choices throughout the day.