When you are on vacation, it's tempting to skip your morning jog and lounge in your armchair sipping orange juice and munching on greasy snacks. While there's nothing wrong with a little splurging, if you overdo it, you may be in for an unpleaser surprise.
With sensible eating you can maintain weight and still indulge. Follow these stay-fit tips on your next trip and you will not bring home extra pounds as a souvenir.
- Do not diet beforehand. A popular plan is to crash-diet before you leave, so you can pig out once you are away. If you try to drop pounds quickly, you will most likely lose muscle and water weight. Then when you overeat, you will replace that lost muscle with fat. It is better to eat normally but step up your exercise routine to burn fat and build calorie-burning muscle. For a few weeks before you go, add an extra 60 minutes of exercise, like running or aerobics, to your weekly workouts.
- Pack healthy snacks. Junk food is easy to find where you travel, but nutritious fare can be more elusive, especially if you are on a road trip, sightseeing all day or in a place where produce is scarce. To make sure you have access to healthy, portable snacks while on the go, take bags of dried fruit, unsalted nuts and low-calorie cereal.
- Budget your fat. Take a few minutes each morning to determine how you will balance the day's fat and calories. That way, you can still splurge on one whatever-I-want meal and not feel deprived. For example, if you know that dinner will be at a four-star restaurant, eat a lighter breakfast and lunch.
- Do not drink your calories. Popular vacation concoctions, such as Daiquiris and Pina Coladas, can contain as many calories and as much fat as an entitlement meal. Alcoholic drinks most likely to derail a healthy diet are those mixed with cream, milk, fruit juice or soda. Since alcohol also stimulates appetite and causes dehydration – which is often mistaken for hunger – drink a glass of water after each drink.
- Stock up on fruits and veggies at buffets. It is easy to get carried away when there is an abundance of all-you-can-eat treats lined out before you. To avoid giving in to temptation, fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, one-quarter with carbohydrates and one-quarter with lean protein.
- Eat slowly. At home, your fast-paced schedule has you grabbing food on the run or gorging after skipping meals. Take advantage of having few times time constraints to relish the sensory experience of dining, say, while you are sitting at a beachfront table watching the sunset. When you really taste every bite of your food, you will eat only until you are no longer hungry, not until you are stuffed.
- Opt for active after-meal activities. To burn more calories, schedule high-energy activities after meals. Sign up for post-breakfast beach volleyball, cycle to and from that brunch spot, or spend the evening at a restaurant that offers live music and after-dinner dancing.
- Research fitness options. Knowing what exercise opportunities are available at your destination increases the likelihood that you will work out. Find out the facilities available at your hotel.
- Choose food by the "BSBR" rule. Scan menus for entrees that are broiled, steamed, braised or roasted. These simple preparations keep food low in fat and calories.
- Eat family-style. If you are vacationing in a place where the food is extraordinary, you can sample a wide variety without stuffing yourself. The key is to share, like splitting, appetizers and dinner entrees with friends. This allows you to taste everything without eating everything.
- Use your hotel wisely. When you check in, ask for a room that is three to five flights up so that you can climb the stairs each day. Schedule a daily wake-up call to fit in morning workouts. Avoid mindless munching by keeping the mini bar locked.
- Maximize your exercise. Moves such as squats, push-ups, lunges, dips and crunches are perfect for travelers. You can do them anywhere, and because they involve more than one muscle group, you can work your whole body in less time.