We just got back from a fabulous trip – first to Vancouver, Canada (my new favorite city) and then on a wonderful cruise to the Inside Passage in Alaska. I’ve had many friends who have vacationed in Alaska and just loved it, and I fell in love with this beautiful and wild place, too. Gorgeous scenery, glaciers, whales, rain forests, quaint fishing villages, fascinating history and culture, friendly people – and we only experienced a small area of this largest state in the United States. I came back feeling great – refreshed and renewed.
It can be difficult to stay on track with healthy eating and exercise habits while travelling, but I’ve learned that I feel so much better and enjoy my vacation much more when I do. This particular ship had a state-of-the-art gym on board, which I took advantage of almost every day, as well as walking everywhere when we were exploring ports. And there were lots of healthy eating choices onboard, as well as indulgent ones. Here are a few things that work well for me when travelling so that I can stay in shape AND enjoy vacation to its fullest:
- Don’t Leave Your Good Habits at Home. Yes, you’re on vacation but that doesn’t have to mean vacation from the healthy habits you’ve worked hard to create for yourself over time. You’ll feel better, look better and enjoy your vacation more if you take the same good care of yourself you do at home. This doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy trying different foods or have dessert – just be smart about it. If you know you’re going to a great restaurant for dinner, a big chopped salad tossed with red and yellow veggies, and topped with a protein like chicken, fish or nuts, is a great lunch and will carry you through the day with energy to spare. If you want to have pancakes for breakfast one morning, go lighter later in the day. You don’t have to deprive yourself – the key is balance.
- Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. It’s easy to get dehydrated in the summer heat, particularly when you are more active. We often rely on thirst as an indicator that we need to drink water, but chances are we are already dehydrated by the time thirst sets in. If you commonly drink 6-8 glasses of water a day at a minimum, you’re on the right track. If not, make it a point to drink water at meals, and regularly throughout the day. Soda and high sugar sports drinks don’t count. The best thing for your body is pure water, and after that pure juices and high-water contents fruits and vegetables: watermelon, pineapple, cantaloupe, citrus fruits, celery, cucumber, spinach, tomato, iceberg lettuce and others.
- Take a Hike. There’s no better time to put on your walking shoes than vacation, when there is so much to see and do. And that goes for whether you are in the city, the country or at the beach. Walking is easy, free, great exercise – and a great way to explore a new locale.
- Unplug. With the advent of the internet and email, it can be tempting as well as easy to stay in touch with work and home concerns even when we are away. Give yourself a break! Let yourself really be on vacation and get lost. Soak up the sights, relax with a good book by the pool, play ping-pong with your kids. Find a hammock and read or take an afternoon nap. Sleep is one of the most restorative things you can do for yourself.
- Reconnect. Vacations are a great time to have fun and build memories with family and friends. Our close relationships are a key component of our overall health, because having close connections to others promotes a well-rounded lifestyle. The World Health Organization defines health this way: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Vacations are a great opportunity to enjoy uninterrupted time and new experiences with those we love which, in turn, strengthen those bonds that are so important to our both our physical and emotional health.
Whatever your plans for the summer, be healthy, be safe and have fun – it’s summer!