Confession right here: I DO NOT party, drink, indulge, take siestas or sleep in on vacation.
Having said that, you might think I’m THE most boring person to vacay with – but just hear me out, OK?
For me, gone are the days of day-drinking by the pool with friends, passing out for mid-afternoon siestas, only to wake up realizing that I’ve missed dinner altogether or simply can’t muster the strength to drag myself out of bed to get dressed up. Don’t get me wrong, getting tipsy and dancing to reggaeton under the sun was good times, but after many vacations were had, I started to notice that I didn’t actually feel relaxed and recharged when I returned back home.
This was all the norm until I took a vacation with my boyfriend’s sister, who happens to be a fitness instructor. Our trip was right around the new year, and with fitness goals in mind, I took it upon myself to learn everything I could from her about living a healthy life.
I was an attentive student and stuck to the program, and by the end of the trip, I felt AMAZING! I had WAY more energy throughout the day, felt lighter, had no need for naps and was just happier in general. Since then, I have vacationed in this way and have never EVER looked back. My vacations are for loving myself and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
There are so many different things you can take advantage of at any resort (hello fresh air, free gym access, fresh foods). You just need to keep an open mind and find opportunities for health as they come.
Below are some of the adjustments I’ve learned to make on vacation. Give what you can a try and enjoy the rewards!
1. Walking is your secret weapon.
Laying down on your beach chair all afternoon isn’t the only way to get a gorgeous tan. Throughout the day, I get up for a walk or even a light jog across the sands to keep my cardiovascular system moving. It’s a great way to explore the beachfront (hello, seashells and coral) in a more productive way in mind, body and spirit. Besides clearing your mind and burning extra cals, you will get a fantastic all-around tan.
2. Don’t make your stomach wait.
I’m always on time for my breakfast, lunch and dinner. I find that I can digest my food more easily and have less highs and lows in energy. When I leave long periods of time between meals, I get hangry. And when I get hangry, I end up sneaking my way to anything greasy, filling and full of carbs. If your resort has whole fruits like apples or bananas on display, take a couple to keep in your beach bag or to your room for when your hands start reaching for that room service call.
3. Play with the buffet.
You can either look at a buffet as a smorgasborg of all your favourite indulgences OR, you can see a world of opportunities to design yourself a health-conscious menu that totally rocks. I reach for plates filled with lots of grilled vegetables and fish. When it comes to that second plate, I turn to clear broth soups and a salad bar where you can pick and choose your favourite toppings (when you have choices, eating healthy isn’t so hard- take advantage). Don’t get me wrong, cheat meals will happen. Allow yourself a Treat Meal once per day on vacation to avoid a total meltdown.
4. Cut your juices
It’s hot on vacation and staying hydrated is an all-day affair. Give your body more H2O, not sugary beverages that could end up dehydrating you. Drinking a lot of juice can add unwanted/useless calories to your diet and can spike your sugar levels. At the last resort I stayed at, they had a variety of fresh juices available for breakfast. I decided to fill only half my glass, adding water for the rest. The verdict? It still tasted sweet enough and was even more refreshing!
Don’t want to miss out on that tropical drink scene? Drop in a few cut-up fruits into your bevvy and you’ll be feeling like a Bahama Mama in no time. When it comes to alcohol, I try to limit myself to 1 drink during the day and 2 in the evening. I either drink ’em up straight or mix my cocktail with carbonated water or flat water with lime.
5. Go to bed! (on time)
Depending on your schedule, waking up for a 9-5 is a lot harder when your body has been rising at noon for the past week. One of the biggest benefits of waking up early and getting a good night’s sleep is the major reduction in stress levels. This is a chance to catch up on quality rest and to get your internal clock back on track (think of all of those late weeknight Netflix binges and early mornings you’ve been having). When I get up early on vacation, there’s no morning scramble to get a spot by the pool and no mad dash to make the breakfast buffet in time. Rising early helps me set the tone for the day on a positive note, and this energy usually remains for the rest of the day.
6. Replace naps with the gym
Speaking of sleep, the mid-day siesta can really throw me off. I try to avoid them like the plague (avoiding excess of alcohol will help) because when I do nap, I feel like s**t and straight up tired when I wake up. Instead of taking a nap, I get into my gear and hit up the gym for a quick body pump. By the time my friends are starting to get ready for the evening’s events, I’m back from the gym feeling energized and ready for that pre-dinner shower.
7. Give your tissues a treat
The benefits of treating yourself to a deep tissue massage are endless- relaxing muscle tension, relieves stress, increases circulation, improving quality of sleep etc. Take advantage of your free time and go for it. Regular massage will compliment all of the other positive life changes you’re working towards. You don’t always have to spend big on resort spas & services. Most recently, I came across a licensed group on the beach doing 1 hr full body massage for only $40 USD.
8. Get amped in the stairwell
Stair climbing is another physical activity than can accumulate throughout the day. On my last trip, our hotel room was on the 4th floor and I didn’t always feel like waiting for the elevator. I ditched it and took the stairs when I wanted to go back to the room. By the end of the day, I had achieved about 30 mins of stair climbing cardio, without even realizing. Mid- vacation, I started to build more lower-body strength and moved on to taking two stairs at a time when no one was around.