The summer season is right around the corner. With the warmer weather comes more traveling, vacations, and time spent away from home. While you may think that a long vacation or frequent weekend trips could derail your fitness and health, this article is meant to help you make the most of your travel, with tips on how to maintain and optimize your health, well-being, and enjoyment during time spent away from home.
First, remember that vacations are important and they should improve your well-being. Vacation means time off from your daily responsibilities. Giving your body a break from life’s daily stresses is a huge boost to your wellness. Lifestyle-related disease, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes, pose huge threats to the health of Americans (1). Most often these diseases are associated with poor diet and lack of physical activity, but stress levels can actually exacerbate some of the underlying root causes (blood sugar levels and hypertension) that lead to these chronic and/ or life threatening conditions. Giving your body time to relax and do the things that you enjoy is a really important way that you can manage stress and improve your overall health. Now that I’ve hopefully convinced you that vacations are important, here are some ways that you can maximize your health and wellbeing while you are away.
Rule #1: Pack Snacks
You are no doubt going to come into contact with some pretty delicious and decadent food while you are on vacation. Make sure that you have a healthy supply of snacks (I like RX Bars, Epic Bars, and Perfect bars; good old fresh cut fruit and veggies, nuts and seeds will do the trick too) you can eat during your downtime and to get you through in between meals. If you will be eating out the majority of your trip, packing snacks will help you to 1) save money and 2) curb hunger so that you are not starving and more likely to overdo it at meal time. Speaking of meal time….
Rule #2: Eat Slowly and Intuitively
I am a firm believer that one of the best ways to experience a new place is by eating the food. With this being said, you’re not going to enjoy your vacation any more if you eat every meal like it’s your last on this earth. Make a conscious effort to eat more slowly than you normally do (it’s vacation, you have time for this), and stop when you feel 80-90% full. Another tip for restaurants when you’re not in a rush is to order a salad first and eat it before you order your meal. Once you finish your salad, then order for your meal. On a partially full stomach, you are less likely to overeat when your meal comes, and you may be more inclined to make a slightly healthier choice for your entree. Bottom line is to slow it down and enjoy every bite.
Rule #3: Move more
Depending on where you are traveling to and who you are with, getting a “real” workout in may or may not be in the cards for you. Vacations are a great time to step outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself physically. Try activities like hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, biking, swimming/ snorkeling/ scuba diving, stand up paddle board, and surfing to move your body and try new things while you are away.
Rule #4: Watch the booze
Vacation is about enjoyment. When it comes to drinking, drink what will enhance your experience, and then stop. Drink what you enjoy (if you hate light beer, don’t drink it), but do try to leave out the sugar as much as you can (for things like Margaritas and mixed drinks try to only order these if you know they are made with fresh juice – mixers almost always have a ridiculous amount of sugar – you can also ask for “just a splash” of juice, or ask for soda water instead of soda). Not only will sugar add to empty calories, it may aggravate your hangover the next day, which is no fun on vacation. After a couple of drinks switch to something hydrating, low in sugar with electrolytes – like coconut water. This will help to ward off hangovers for the following day.
Written By: Alexa Pancza
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