By: Kathleen Trotter
Too many times people return from vacation having had a great time, but also being down on themselves due to letting unhealthy habits dominate. People tend to overeat, drink more, and skip their work outs.
It sucks to get away only to return feeling worse physically and emotionally than when you left!
My friend Em and I are living proof that you can go on a vacation that is both healthy AND fun!
We have been vacationing together since high school. In October we went on a particularly memorable trip to Jake’s Resort in Treasure Beach, Jamaica. This was the view of Jake’s we had while sitting at lunch on our first day.
The below photo is of us at the Pelican Bar near Jake’s. Your eyes are not playing tricks on you, it is a bar in the middle of the ocean! Amazing.
Over our (gulp) 12 years of traveling together we have figured out how to go on vacations that leave us feeling energized and revitalized, not gross and discouraged!
K and Em’s six tried and true tips for a healthy and fun vacation:
1. Be prepared.
Both Em and I are known for making less than stellar choices when we are hungry. We always carry nuts and other healthy snacks so we don’t grab the closest chocolate bar.
I also always pack a travel blender and protein powder. Since most hotels have ice, and bananas are usually accessible in tropical locales, I can always make a protein shake if needed.
Em and I also go grocery shopping as soon as we arrive to buy healthy snacks for our hotel room. I also like to take leftovers back to the hotel room so I can eat them the next day as snacks. This saves me from wanting something unhealthy from the vending machine or pool side bar.
Lastly, whenever possible I look at menus and decide what healthy option I will have before I go to the restaurant. If I let myself chose at the restaurant I will too often make the “hungry” choice, not the healthy one. When I arrive I don’t even have to open the menu, I just order whatever I have already decided on.
2. Ask for what you want!
Don’t be shy, ask for modifications. The worst thing the restaurant can say is “no.” Little alterations such as asking for dressing on the side or substituting vegetables for french fries can make a big difference.
Jake’s was amazing at accommodating our constant requests. For example, Em likes chips and salsa. She ordered nachos for her mid-day snack, but asked for no cheese or sour cream. I love vegetable stir-frys. So I would ask the restaurant to add a protein to the vegetable stir-fry that was already on the menu.
You never know what is possible unless you ask.
3. Indulge, but do it mindfully!
Go ahead, treat yourself, but don’t just grab anything. Wait and savour something you love. I love chocolate ice cream, so that is what I indulge in. Em loves passion fruit sorbet. On the night Jake’s served that, she indulged. When they had other flavours, she passed.
4. Stop eating when you are full!
Enjoy your favourite foods, but have one portion not three, and always stop when you are full. This is something Em is really great at. She is able to order french fries then only eat a few. I am not as good at moderation. I tend to just not order bad food. Aim to emulate her, not me. I am currently trying to learn to be more like her. Enjoy life, but do it mindfully.
5. Stay Active!
At Jake’s I went for daily runs to watch the sunrise and did yoga on a beautiful terrace overlooking the sea. This is a photo from one of my runs. Perfection!
I love structure, but don’t have to do structured workouts on vacation. Just try to move daily. Go for walks on the beach, play volleyball, sightsee on a bike, or emulate Emily and play water sports. Do something you enjoy!
6. Stay hydrated!
Drink water regularly throughout the day. It is easy to mistake thirst for hunger, especially in hot climates.
The main takeaway is that like most things in life, discovering how to have a balanced, healthy and fun vacation is a process. When you come back from a vacation feeling frustrated, instead of allowing yourself to feel “down,” analyze where you went wrong and then consider how you can make better choices next time!
Kathleen Trotter has been a personal Trainer and pilates equipment specialist for over twelve years. Kathleen is the featured personal trainer in The Globe and Mail’s online ‘Fitness Basic’ series, writes two weekly pieces for the Globe, blogs regularly for The Huffington Post and Healthy Directions magazine and has contributed articles to magazines such as Canadian Running, Today’s Parent and Chatelaine. Kathleen recently completed her Masters at The University of Toronto. Kathleen is currently working to become a registered Holistic Nutritionist from The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.