By Michele Koh Morollo
Travelling can wreck havoc on your regular fitness routine and cause you to throw good nutritional habits out the window. That's why so many of us return from our vacations with a couple of extra pounds and a thicker waistline. Going on holiday or traveling for business often involves eating high calorie meals and skipping our daily dose of exercise. This doesn't bode well for a good vacation, as bad eating habits and being sedentary can leave us feeling lethargic and drained.
You can avoid slipping into vacation sloth by following these simple suggestions.
Snack Well, Fly Right
Travelling means time spent waiting in airport transit lounges, trains or bus stations — all places that have dozens of cafes and candy stores. Boredom and restlessness can drive you to buy candy bars, chips, chocolate and other high calorie foods that you simply do not need. To avoid the junk food trap, pack your own healthy snacks like unsalted almonds, a few pieces of fruit or a low-calorie health bar. If traveling by plane, be sure to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Most airlines also have options for low calorie, low sodium and low fat in-flight meals. You can preorder one of these by checking-in online at least 48 hours before your flight depart and selecting these special meal choices.
Bring Your Gear and Use Your Hotel Room
The trouble with hotel gyms is that they are either always packed at the time you want to use them, or the equipment doesn't quite feel right. Neither is an excuse to ditch your daily exercise. While using the gym is always a good idea when traveling, make sure you have a back-up plan. Pack your workout gear, shoes and accessories. You'll need them even if you use the gym. Bring a lightweight travel yoga mat or Pilate mat, a jump rope or a resistance band. If you already have a yoga, jump rope or strength training routine that you do at home, continue doing this at the usual time in your hotel room. Sticking to your daily "at-home" workout every morning will help you combat jetlag quicker, and will definitely leave you feeling more energized and ready to take on the new city.
Use the Pool and Find Scenic Paths
Most hotels have swimming pools and you should certainly take full advantage of these for some cardio and to tone up your muscles. For an extra boost of fitness, supplement your in-room workouts with ten to fifteen laps in the pool. Before you leave for your destination, do some research and find out if there are any scenic walking or jogging paths close to where you stay. If there are, make it a point to use these in the morning. That way you can get your blood pumping and take in some fresh air while getting to know the city. If you enjoy cycling or hiking, find out where you can go to do these activities and plan a daytrip outdoors. Being out in nature, rather than in shopping malls and piazzas removes the temptation to sample exotic local treats every hour or so!
The best way to avoid erratic eating is to stick to three meals a day. The good news is many hotels offer healthy choices so you can opt for fruit, yogurt and cereal with skimmed milk for breakfast and pass on the sausages and pancakes. Make sure you include plenty of vegetables in your lunch and dinner and do your best to eat at regular times. Skip those all you can eat buffets and order a la carte instead. Eat dinner before eight o'clock so your food is well digested before you go to bed. To avoid decadent street stall and café treats like ice cream and pastry, buy your own snacks from the supermarket, and reach for them when the urges strike. Watch the number of alcoholic beverages you consume, as people tend to drink more on holiday. "Besides being packed with extra calories, alcohol compromises your willpower. So you're less likely to stick to your eating plan," says Althea Zancosky, R.D., an American Dietetic Association spokeswoman in Philadelphia. So keep it down to three drinks a day at max.
Get Enough Sleep
While on holiday, it is certainly tempting to stay up late, but it's important to get at least eight hours of sleep a night. Not getting sufficient sleep inhibits your body's ability to burn fat and also leaves you feeling hungrier. People who do not get adequate sleep secrete higher levels of a hormone called ghrelin that slows metabolism and triggers hunger pangs.
Follow these tips and you'll look even slimmer and more radiant when you return home.