I already know what you’re saying… Rob, the whole point of vacation is so you don’t have to have an eating guide!
And I would agree… mostly. Vacation is a time to kick back and loosen up a bit on the dieting that you have been doing year round to get into vacation shape. However, if you go away for a week or so and completely let loose, you may be doing big time harm to your physique. I have tried it both ways- I have gone to resorts and said, “I do not care, I am eating whatever I what, whenever I want” and literally saw the fat gain on my abs on a daily basis during the vacation. I have also gone away and used the guidelines outlined in this post, and I have come back in the exact shape as I was in pre-vacation.
The choice is yours. Follow these tips, or spend a ton of time trying to get your pre-vacation body back!
Problem: You spent months of eating right to look good for your vacation, and you will be tempted to blow it all in a week
Solution: Strategies to control hunger and limit the damage that will be done
Tip #1: Bring Snacks
- Dried fruit such as banana chips and raisins
- Mixed nuts, including almonds, pecans and peanuts
Go to a store like Trader Joes or Whole Foods. Buy several bags of nuts and some dried fruit. Your hunger pangs during your vacation will thank me later. Fruits and nuts are the easiest and most portable snacks to take while traveling. You can bring them onto a plane, or throw a few bags in your checked luggage. The purpose of these snacks is to make sure you avoid extreme hunger during any part of your vacation. If you allow yourself to go hungry for hours at a time, there is a great chance that your will completely overdo dinner and drinks later that night, especially if you are staying at an all inclusive resort. The goal is to enjoy your meal, NOT be glutenous. The next time you are sitting at the beach, pop open your travel bag and eat a handful of nuts. Super easy, super convenient. Also, this will probably save you money during vacation considering a bag of nuts or fruit will run $5 or so, while snacks at a resort can reach Yankee Stadium levels of ripoff.
Tip #2: Veggies (and fruit) first
Enjoy all the junk and sugary crap you want… after you eat at least a serving of vegetables! We want to signal to our brains that our stomachs are in fact, not bottomless pits. The best way to do that is to eat foods that are high volume (they have high fiber and water content) and low in calories. Vegetables are perfect. You can then go eat all the chicken nuggets, mac and cheese and burgers you can stomach.
I approach dessert in the same way. Eat some fruit before the ice cream. Strawberries and blueberries would be ideal. Berries are high in antioxidants, water and fiber. They will limit the cheesecake coma that will come at an all inclusive desert buffet.
Tip #3: Limit drinks
Pina coladas. Strawberry daiquiris. Mudslides. These drinks are 90% sugar (or, most likely, 90% high fructose corn syrup), but they are very delicious. This is all the evidence needed to know that we live in an imperfect world. The best and most tasty drinks also contain obscenely high amounts of calories, and will be the quickest way to go back to a size 40 waist. This is the hardest part for me while traveling. I never even think about drinking these types of cocktails while not on vacation, but when I go on vacation, I want to indulge a bit. Unfortunately, one drink may match my entire sugar intake for a normal day.
So what to do?
- have a “2 bad drinks” max per day
- save them for dinner
- drink a glass of water for every alcoholic drink you have
- share drinks with a friend or family member – half the cals and sugar!
Moderation is key. If you want to drink on vacation but are really concerned about calories, limit your drinks to light beers, or alcohol mixed with diet soda. These options are significantly lower in sugar and calories, which will leave more leeway for you to eat more foods without guilt during your trip.
Tip #4: Move around
Get exercise in. Period. If the brief, yet effective workouts I recommended in a previous blog post are too much work, go for a walk. Rent a bike. Play beach volleyball. Just do something to at least give your body an excuse to put all of the excess calories to use. Sitting in a lounge chair all week will just accelerate the fat gain. If you were working out 5 days a week and eating less food than you will on vacation, do you really think you won’t put on a ton of fat while being sedentary and eating nachos all day? Be realistic.
Going away is not a guaranteed path back to being out of shape. If you have a focused strategy going into the vacation, there is a much higher chance of coming out alive (and fitting into your clothes).
Mulligan Fitness and Hylete.com
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