Without wanting to rub it in, I’m writing this Blog post whilst looking out at the waves lapping the shore on a pristine white sand beach in Thailand. I’ve had the most amazing holiday in a beautiful country and have loved every every minute of sun, sea and spicy Thai food! But the only extra kg I’ll be bringing back are in my suitcase in the form of presents and souvenirs, as I’ve tried my best to stay healthy this holiday, without depriving myself or missing out. It can be really hard to stay on track during a holiday, so I’ve put together this Blog post to hopefully give you some helpful hints for keeping fit and healthy on your travels.
1. Move your body every day
Sitting here in 32 degree heat it would be hard to motivate myself right now to go and train, which is why even on holiday I get up and exercise before breakfast. It can be annoying waking up to an alarm in my time off, but if I leave my exercise until later in the day it tends not to happen. So I like to stick to a routine, even when I travel. Personally I do this almost every day because I really feel the benefits, especially since I am eating more and moving less than I usually would! However you are on holiday and rest and relaxation are equally important, so why not try a pre breakfast workout every other day during your break? If you’re somewhere warm you’ll beat the heat of the day too, and if you’re a real early bird may even get to see the sunrise. There’s definitely something special about being up before everyone else, enjoying a coffee with an amazing view before you hit the gym.
2. No gym, no problem!
The vast majority of hotels and resorts will offer at the very least a basic fitness room, or maybe even a full blown leisure club with classes and PTs. If this is the case then you really do have no excuse not to get your workouts in! But what if you don’t? Or what if you can’t bear to spend more time indoors on your holiday than you need to? Water can provide a great resistance in its own right – jogging through shallow water and performing exercises like dips or sit ups on the edge of a swimming pool can form a great outdoor circuit. Same goes for swimming itself – cardio and strengthening for your body with zero impact on your joints. Or you could either put together your own, or find a body weight circuit workout online before you go that you could perform on your balcony or on the beach? Why not check out some of mine here:
If you normally strength train then why not pack some resistance bands in your suitcase, or a TRX suspension trainer? These are both small and lightweight so won’t take up much room in your suitcase, and they can also provide a great resistance workout pretty much anywhere. Squats, push ups, bicep curls, shoulder presses… all of these and plenty more can be performed with a simple set of bands. Again, here’s a resistance band workout I put together that can be done anywhere:
3. Sight-see on two feet
This may sound simple, but one of the most effective and yet simple forms of exercise is walking. Always take trainers (or very comfortable shoes that you know you can wear all day) with you on any trip, and set off for a day of adventure on foot. Before you know it, you’ll have covered at least 20,000 steps, and seen a lot more of your chosen destination than you would have by taxi or public transport. One of my favourite things about going away is walking around and exploring – burning calories, working all the major lower body muscles and discovering countless coffee shops, restaurants, boutiques and other hidden gems that I’d never have found otherwise. Google walking guides of your chosen destination before you go, you can normally find suggested routes that someone else has lovingly put together, often that take in points of interest too.
4. Beware the buffet
If you stay in a hotel or resort when you travel then I’m 99% certain you’ll encounter a buffet for at least some of your meals. Of course these are great value if you’re all inclusive, but that’s still no excuse for endless trips up, or towering plates of food. If you eat more than you burn every day on holiday then sadly you will be returning with excess baggage – and not the kind you check-in. Try to stick to vegetable and protein based meals where possible – salad and vegetables are the one thing where you really can adopt the “all you can eat” approach when it comes to the buffet. Veggies will add bulk (not to mention vitamins and nutrients) without the extra calories, whereas lean protein like chicken, turkey, eggs and fish will help keep you fuller for longer (and help you build lean muscle if you have been working out). There’s nothing wrong with carbs, but make sensible choices – mini croissants are just as fattening as their big cousins, and mountains of rice or pasta will weigh heavy on your waist line. As a rule, try to make your plate 50% veg, 30% protein and 20% carbs. Seaside resorts often specialise in fresh fish and seafood – white fish and shellfish are a great way to experience the local produce in a healthy way. Season with herbs, spices or lemon and try to opt for grilled or baked for a delicious and high-protein lunch or dinner option.
5. Don’t drink your calories
Nothing says holiday quite like a sunset cocktail, right? There’s definitely something special about watching the sun set over the sea with an ice cold glass in your hand. But beware creamy classics like Pina Colada which are sky high in calories and sugar. Cream based cocktails can wrack up almost as many calories as your evening meal, not to mention delivering your daily recommended sugar intake in one hit. There’s nothing wrong with a tipple on holiday, but try to stick to clear spirits if possible – lower in sugar and calories. Don’t get lured into happy hour deals and drink more just because it’s on offer – the dehydrating effects of alcohol can be increased in a hot climate which can lead to more intense hangovers…. which can also lead to a “recovery” fry up the next morning! Where possible, have a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you consume, or try to alternate between alcohol and soft drinks to lessen the effect on your body. Try also not to drink every day so as to allow your liver some time to recover in between.
It’s not just cocktails than can be packed with calories either. Creamy coffee based drinks and milkshakes too can contain up to 800 cals – smoothies as well are very high in sugar, so don’t get lured into the trap of thinking you’re being healthy when ordering a strawberry milkshake or creamy smoothie. Again, of course it’s okay to treat yourself on holiday – but some people don’t even think to consider liquid calories and can often be surprised that they’ve gained weight even when they’ve “not been eating much”. It all counts!
On the flip side of this, its extremely important to ensure you stay hydrated in the heat. Sip bottled water throughout the day, especially if you’re sweating as it important to replace lost fluids. Dehydration can lead to headaches and nausea, and thirst is often mistaken for hunger, so keep those water levels topped up at all times.
This might sound like a lot of rules to follow whilst you should be away relaxing, and by no means am I trying to be the fun police on your holidays! However I know full well that it’s depressing enough coming back to the cold, dark UK and heading back to work without also feeling that all your clothes are tighter than they were before your break. I am a firm believer that life is there to be lived and enjoyed, and when travelling it’s important to try new things and experiences, and this may well include food and drink. However it is all about balance, so if you do over-indulge then maybe take it easy the next day, or plan your heavy meals around days where you know you can exercise so at least you’ve burnt some calories before consuming them. Just some simple things like getting in some quick workouts, walking as much as possible, or not over-indulging at the buffet can all add up to making a big difference. All that’s left is for you to relax, enjoy, and explore amazing places – Happy Holidays!