A beautiful autumn morning in Central Park
There’s nothing more rejuvenating than taking a well-deserved vacation. But going on a holiday shouldn’t mean leaving your healthy lifestyle at home. In fact, taking a break from your healthy habits can seriously hijack the fitness goals you’ve worked so hard to achieve. Vacationing doesn’t have to equal weight gain. Believe it or not, by trying these five simple travel health tips, you might even find the scale tipping in your favour when you get home!
Sweetgreen, a restaurant chain we visited in New York which features lots of healthy options.
1. Choose restaurants that offer healthy options
One of my favourite things about vacationing is the opportunity to try new restaurants and new foods. By doing a little research beforehand you can delight your taste buds without sabotaging your diet. Check out restaurants’ menus online to ensure they offer healthy menu choices. If unsure, call the restaurant and explain your dietary preferences. When traveling abroad, be adventurous and try the local cuisine (like Charles and I did with these delicious Cricket Tacos). Part of the pleasure of eating is the experience of new textures and tastes. And even though they can seem like a bargain, it’s a good idea to avoid all-you-can-eat buffets when trying to eat clean.
Walking from Brooklyn to Manhattan across the Brooklyn Bridge
2. Whenever it’s safe and possible, walk
Taxis are expensive. Tour buses, crowded and limiting. The best, cheapest, healthiest way to see a new city? Walk. On our recent trip to New York City, Charles and I walked nearly everywhere. Over the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan, through Central Park to the Museum of Natural History, and from Times Square on the Highline to SoHo and back, our feet carried us an average of 10km per day. Through rain, wind and sun, we saw places and people we’d never have encountered had we taken the subway or a cab. Bring comfortable clothes and walking shoes, be prepared for weather changes, and burn calories while your feet carry you to exciting new sights and destinations.
Bringing food from home, or buying healthy items (like this hotel bed picnic of hummus, cheese, nuts and fruit) make meals healthy, quick and inexpensive
3. Bring healthy food with you from home
This is a must for me, not only because I’m picky about what I eat (particularly for breakfast) but also because I find the meal prices on planes, in airports and in hotels frankly alarming. (Two eggs, choice of breakfast meat and potatoes at the Westin Times Square will set you back $23.00 USD!) Being healthy and frugal, I brought bags of pumpkin, chia and hemp seeds for homemade breakfast cereal and mixed them with plain yogurt and fruit purchased from the local market. Cashews, almonds and baby carrots were always in my carry-on bag for mid-flight munchies. Hard boiled eggs, available at any NY deli, were a high-protein staple for snacks and mini-meals.
Hotel gyms are usually well equipped, clean and have great views
4. Make use of the hotel gym – or whatever’s handy
If your hotel has a gym, you’ve got it made. Many hotels will even loan you gym clothes and shoes in case you forget to pack yours! No gym? No problem! Drop in at a local fitness or community centre, or simply use what you’ve got. Push-ups, squats, lunges and triceps dips can all be done with nothing more than a chair or even just space on the floor.
It’s okay to enjoy a treat – in moderation!
5. Allow yourself alcohol and other treats – with the same moderation you’d use at home
Let’s be frank: we all want to have a little fun on holidays. Completely denying yourself any desserts, alcohol or other indulgences often leads to frustration and resentment, resulting in dangerous bingeing behaviour. Allow yourself room for a few treats, in moderation. If you have an event planned that will include a few drinks, set yourself a limit and switch to water when you’ve reached it. If you have a sweet tooth, enjoy a dessert with one of your dinners. (And if you feel tempted to have more, nosh on some of those healthy snacks you brought along!) Having a treat or two isn’t going to set you back – but having one or two every day might. The key is not to overdo it, any more than you would at home.
With a little planning and a commitment to your health and fitness goals, you can fully enjoy any vacation without feeling like you have to start all over again once you get home!