The habits that took years to build,
do not take a day to change.
As a resident of New York, it is no surprise that I need to get away from the stone torture tube that is the subway and the hustle and bustle of New York. I have always been a huge fan of traveling and have done so with my family since I was 2 years old. Over the last 5 or 6 years, I have found a balance when on vacation between fun and health and I actually enjoy vacation more because of it.
I just came back from Costa Rica and feel no different than when I left, in terms of motivation. I was able to have my fun, while also keeping in mind that going all out all the time can have some pretty immediate effects. Here is a list of do’s and don’ts when on vacation to help you enjoy but also stay on track:
Dos and Don'ts of a Healthy Vacation
While trying not to fall too heavily off the tracks during a vacation, incorporate the following tips:
This has a bit of a negative connotation. Drinking, eating, and excessive relaxation are all part of a great trip away from the norm. However, in excess, they can cause problems and even bring great frustration.
DON’T make every meal your last meal on Earth
Believe me, I have been on vacation and have gone to restaurants where my mentality is, “They may have to carry me after this one.” This type of meal will happen, and that is okay.
However, treating every meal like this, especially over the course of many days, can pile on the calories, reduce your energy levels, and even disrupt your metabolism. Try to limit this type of meal as often as you can.Don’t be afraid to eat the things you enjoy, but maybe limit to once a day and not in massive quantities.
DON’T drink alcohol at every meal
Breakfast is awesome, and I love bacon and eggs. However, adding a cocktail to this meal, at 8:30 in the morning, is unnecessary.Try to consume more water and low-calorie beverages at meals like breakfast and lunch, and save the alcohol for meals that are low in carbohydrates as well.
DON’T sleep too much
Once again, I have slept in so much on vacation that someone had to remind me what day it is. Not only can you actually oversleep, but your entire rhythm will be completely thrown off.
Oversleeping can cause you to feel groggier throughout the day and less motivated to make the right decisions. Try to get a deep 8 hours or so, and wake up feeling refreshed, not like a zombie!
DON’T do absolutely nothing physically
Some people will find a beach chair, pull it up, and sit for hours on end (I personally lose my mind sitting there for 30 minutes). Try to plan events that encourage you to be active, such as:
- Walking around historic destinations
These types of activities will allow you to see the most of your vacation destination, and keep you moving as well!
There are a few of these that may seem contrary to what you want to do on vacation. These are mere guidelines that will take up a fraction of your time while helping you stay on point.
I am a crazy person who will literally “workout” for hours on vacation. I love playing sports, lifting weights, and doing outdoor activities. However, for you non-crazy people out there, this does not have to be the case.
Working out in the morning when you first wake up is a great idea. A morning workout can help you:
- Feel more refreshed to start the day
- Make better food and beverage choices
- Lessen the overall impact of poor calorie choices
DO drink lots of water
Forgetting to hydrate is one of the biggest mistakes people make when on vacation. It is safe to say you may partake in some dehydration type activities, so maintaining consistent fluid intake will help.
Here are some basic hydration tips:
- Try drinking water with every alcoholic beverage
- Avoid sugary drinks and mixers as often as possible
- Fruit juices, sodas, cream based coffee drinks, and overly sweet frozen drinks should also be avoided
DO choose healthy options as often as possible
Believe it or not, there are almost always tons of healthy options when on vacation. Whenever I have gone on a cruise, or to an all-inclusive, there have been loads of fresh fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats.Granted, they are surrounded by fried, doughy madness, but your ability to sift through these unhealthy options is part of the learning process of balance. Try when possible to stick to the lower glycemic side of the scale, while occasionally tossing in a treat snack or meal.
DO get good sleep
Sleeping too little is just as big a problem as sleeping too much on vacation. Go out and have your fun, but also know that too many days of back to back poor sleep can set you up for quite the difficult return trip.Try your best to get 8 solid hours of sleep while on vacation (but remember, not too much either).
ENJOY! You’re on Vacation
When we travel, it is usually to a place nothing like where we are from. Take in all the culture has to offer, and enjoy immersing yourself in an unfamiliar place. Overeating and moving very little may seem appealing but can actually hinder your ability to explore and enjoy.
Find the balance, and you will make the most of your trip!
Vacation Control: How to Enjoy While Staying on Track – In Conclusion
The key to eating healthy and not falling off track while traveling is balance. Understanding that it is important to step away from our busy lives and live in the moment, while also not over indulging, is a hard lesson to master.
Tips such as getting in a morning workout so you feel more motivated to make additional healthy choices, and getting enough sleep in order to not have unhealthy cravings are great steps to take in order to not feel too guilty while on vacation.
At Cenegenics, your clinical team is only an email or phone call away. If you are unsure of what steps to take while on vacation, your clinical team is your greatest tool!
Next Steps to Learning Vacation Control
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About the Author
Joshua D’Alessandro - MS, CSCS, CISSN
Nutrition & Exercise Counselor at Cenegenics New York City
My name is Joshua D'Alessandro and I am an Exercise and Nutrition Counselor for Cenegenics in NY. My passion for fitness began at a very young age and has manifested into a career filled with possibilities. The countries largest epidemic, and quite possibly the root cause of most issues, is diminishing health. In my career, I hope to do everything and anything I can to improve the well being and lives of the people around me!
This guide was produced with contributions from the following key resources:
The Cenegenics Education and Research Foundation
The Textbook of Age Management Medicine Volume 1: Mastering Healthy Aging Nutrition, Exercise and Hormone Replacement Therapy
Jeffrey Park Leake, M.D., CPT
Dr. Jeffrey Park Leake is a Partner and Director of Education at Cenegenics Elite Health specializing in age management and wellness. Having trained hundreds of physicians worldwide, Dr. Leake is also the Director of Education for the Clinical Strategies for Healthy Aging course at AMM Educational Foundation.
Todd David Greenberg, M.D., CSCS
Dr. Todd Greenberg is a practicing physician with a broad range of expertise, including wellness, exercise, sports injuries, and MRI of sports injuries. He is a Radiology Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington.