Do you leave your healthy habits securely locked up at home when you go on vacation? Of course, everyone wants to ease up a little on those all-too-short holidays. A few dessert splurges and a whole lot of lazy lounging are par for the course. But day after day of gluttony will result in you returning home feeling more tired and worn down than when you left.
You’ll have much more fun if you give yourself the food, the fitness, and the sleep that keep you feeling your best. That’s not to say that you should sip herbal tea in the corner while everyone else is enjoying a drink at the bar (unless that’s your thing.) But give just a few of these suggestions a try and you’ll find yourself more alert, comfortable, and energetic on vacation.
Take the Stairs
Let’s get this out of the way first. Never take the elevator, unless you’re loaded down with luggage. Wearing strappy sandals? Take ‘em off and walk barefoot.
Explore on Foot
Walking is the best way to get to know an area. Leave the car parked whenever possible. Especially avoid tour buses, unless they’re your only ticket in to see a particular sight. If there’s a bike rental place nearby, consider doing your local sightseeing by bicycle.
Try the Local Produce
Most vacation destinations are known for some kind of special food – and more often than not, it’s something sweet, sticky, chocolate, and/or fried. But think about what actually grows where you’re visiting. Have you ever tried a Georgia peach in Georgia? Or a banana picked ripe off the tree in Australia? Snack on some fresh, local fruits and not just as a garnish for your drink.
Go Native For Your Fitness
Wherever you’re going, there is surely a sport or physical activity that is popular in the area: skiing or surfing, trekking, sailing or swimming. Whether you’re an expert or a rank beginner, give it a try! If it’s an urban vacation, scout out the inevitable pickup games of volleyball, soccer, or basketball – or try something new like cricket or Bocce. Or pack your own Frisbee and head to the park with your pals. Big cities also have plenty of martial arts dojos, climbing gyms, and yoga studios. Or check around to see about dance lessons early in the evening at a nearby Latin club. A day of sightseeing would be perfectly balanced out by a salsa lesson!
Keep One Healthy Habit, No Matter What
Sure, it’s a vacation, and you need a break. But if you keep even one healthy habit while you’re away, it’s like a little flame that’s still lit, a little push that will keep you heading in the right direction. For example, if you have a yoga practice, continue doing even a tiny part of it. Say, one Sun Salute first thing in the morning. Just one! It’s more symbolic than anything else – but if you didn’t break your rhythm when you were away, then it’ll be a snap to get right back into your healthy routine at home.
If You Must: Go Hog Wild
Some people (and you know who you are) get really cranky when they try for too stringent a routine. Being too hard on yourself is no way to develop healthy habits that will last a lifetime. And that’s what we’re really going for, right? If your little inner voice is protesting this virtuous vacation stuff, then go a little crazy. Early in your trip, designate a day to eat and drink too much and stay up too late. Live large! The next morning, you will of course feel awful. Just notice how your body responded to all that gluttony. No need for a big guilt trip. Just notice.
Most importantly, remember that feeling later on, when the dessert buffet is calling your name. Then make a choice. Do you really want to waste another vacation day feeling anything less than spectacular?
Kim Kash has been a writer and editor for over 20 years, many of those with Daedalus Books. The author of the bestselling Ocean City: A Guide to Maryland’s Seaside Resort (Channel Lake, 2009), Kim is a founder of the Greenbelt Farmers Market near Washington, D.C. Topics she covers as a freelance writer range from federal government policy to yoga, food and travel. She often writes for beachbody.com which provides home fitness video programs and recently launched P90X2, which delivers an even more advanced workout. Two years ago at age 40, Kim and her husband sold everything and moved to the Middle East. Since then, she has traveled to twelve new countries and has taken up sailing, diving, and rock climbing.