If you’re lucky enough to be going on holiday this summer, and you’re trying to keep fit and healthy, you might wonder how best to reconcile the two. After all, holidays are precious - and it’s very appealing to take time off your exercise regime or your healthy diet. And that’s absolutely fine!
The most important thing is that you enjoy your holiday, really take the time to unwind and take your mind off the stress of daily life. But by staying mindful of healthy choices, you can make the most of your time off and return feeling refreshed, rather than tired and dreading the next Monday morning!
Enjoy the great outdoors
Make the most of the change of scenery by exploring the local area. Hours spent wandering around city centres, museums, parks, or out in the hills and mountains or on the beach will keep you fit, and steadily burn calories while you’re having fun and taking it all in. Why not try out a walking tour - great if you’re interested in history, art, or architecture. If you’re somewhere a little more rural, get hold of a guidebook and choose a countryside walk - there are options to suit a range of abilities and ages.
Choose active adventures
There are tons of outdoor activities you could do that will raise your heart rate and keep your body moving - kayaking, surfing, swimming or hiking are just a few examples.
Even if you’re having the most laid-back, luxurious holiday possible, an hour or so in the pool every day will count as exercise, promise! If you’re with the family, take everyone along to a local sports centre and book out a court for an afternoon of badminton or tennis.
To ensure you’re always primed to make the most of the day, it’s very important that you stay hydrated - carry water with you at all times! Even if you’re not somewhere hot and sunny, water is necessary to keep your body working at its best. Remember - once you feel thirsty, that means your body is already desperate for water.
Feed yourself well
If you want to have the energy for an action-packed day, fuelling yourself exclusively with a pile of hash browns or doughnuts from the hotel buffet is not the best idea! Now is not the time to be worrying about your calorie deficit, instead think about how you can best enjoy the treats on offer without getting that slow, bloated feeling.
If you are in self-catering accommodation, stick to a healthy breakfast and make use of the kitchen to prepare a packed lunch or picnic you can take on your travels. You could try visiting the local food market and have a look at some of the fruit and veg on offer- always a fun outing as there will inevitably be something new and interesting to try.
And if you’re planning an active holiday, it’s a good idea to pack some healthy snacks (nuts and seeds, or homemade flapjacks) - so you can keep hunger under control while you’re out and about.
Absolutely try that restaurant around the corner with rave reviews, that ice cream shop with the fantastical flavours, that tearoom with the famous cream teas! Many of us are food lovers, and understand that enjoying great food is an important part of the holiday experience.
However try not to let the ‘I’m on holiday!’ excuse snowball into overeating. If you’re trying to lose weight, aim to sample what’s on offer but avoid large portions - if you have generous companions who don’t mind sharing, make the most of it! A good guideline is to try and stay mindful of what you are eating as you are eating it - really take time to savour and acknowledge the taste - you’re more likely to appreciate it and less likely to overeat!
Don't extend the vacation
All things considered, a two week holiday won't cause you to suddenly become out of shape. It would be very difficult for you to gain significant amounts of weight from overeating in such a short space of time.
However the biggest threat that a holiday poses to our general fitness goals comes in the form of that voice saying "I'll get back to normal next week". Eating higher volumes of food, as well as more sugar than usual, makes your body adapt incredibly quickly and you will find you naturally crave a three course meal once home, if that's what you became used to whilst away. This is where it is easy to turn a holiday into a habit, and where you might find yourself worrying about letting go too much.
If you'll be returning to an empty fridge, why not prepare your next food shop online? Most supermarket delivery services will allow you to reserve a slot up to 21 days in advance, so you can have it all sorted before you leave. This means you don't have to make that jetlagged trek through the supermarket with memories of crêpes or tiramisu calling your name!
You may find yourself feeling down once back in the ‘real world’. This is to be expected - but do bear in mind that exercise is a natural source of endorphins that can perk you up and raise your mood. If you’ve been indulging a lot while you’ve been away, why not try a ‘holiday’ for your body - for the same amount of time you’ve been away, try and focus on eating controlled amounts of nutritious and healthy food to restore the balance.
And remember when getting back to your fitness class, you will probably feel sore and achey when starting to exercise again after the break, but that's absolutely normal!
© Rachel Lawrence. All rights reserved. No reproduction without permission.