Sun, sand, sea… Summer is finally here! The break we’ve all been eagerly anticipating throughout the long, cold winter months with time out of the office, away from deadlines, projects and emails has arrived.
Excited, ey? So you should be. But don’t throw away months of healthy living for one gluttonous getaway this summer. Of course you can (and should) indulge on holiday – could it be called a holiday if we can’t treat ourselves to the occasional margarita or ice-cream?
Most of us work long, tedious hours, experience plenty of stress and likely don’t get enough sleep during the week, so have developed a healthy routine to keep up energy levels and wellbeing – whether it be joining an exercise class twice a week, limiting alcohol to the weekend, or even doing 'Meatless Mondays'. Overindulging is easier to control in our everyday lives, but on holiday, it's difficult to keep up appearances. The trick to indulging the right way is to balance fun AND healthy living into your holiday schedule, and we guarantee your body will thank you for it as a result!
Start Before You Get There
First off, remember that your vacation doesn’t start the moment you arrive bikini-clad and sun-creamed to the beach. It begins the moment you walk out of your front door, airport bound. In fact, time spent travelling to your exotic destination is crucial in preparing your holiday mentality. If you get off to a bad start by eating badly during travel time, you are far more likely to overindulge during the rest of your holiday, and begrudge yourself as a result.
Pre-Prepare Travel Meals
Rather than giving in to junk, plan and pre-prepare foods to eat whilst travelling. Whether it’s a homemade salad or sandwich, or more snacky foods such as natural bars or fruit and nuts, you’ll thank yourself later when you arrive at your destination feeling nourished, energised and not having overindulged before you even reached your destination!
Travel often involves enduring arduous car journeys, extended waits at airports, long flights and then perhaps another long ride before finally arriving at your destination. All in all, a lot of sitting and waiting. Sitting still for extended periods of time can make us feel lethargic and cause aches and pains. To keep circulation moving, take walks inside the airport terminal and up and down the aisle in the aircraft.
You can also do seat exercises – flex your toes, roll your ankles, squeeze your glutes and do calf raises. Doing these every hour or so will keep you energized, prevent stiffness in muscles and keep you mentally agile.
Combat Jet Lag
If you’re taking that dreaded long-haul flight over several time zones, limit the shock of jet lag on your body by gradually adjusting your sleep pattern before you leave. When you arrive at your destination, try to fall into step with the local time zone. If it’s still light when you arrive, go outside for a walk, try to move and stimulate your body and defy sleep until it gets dark. By being outside in the sun, your internal body clock will produce less sleep-inducing hormones and you will be able to stay awake for longer.
Eating And Drinking Right
Perhaps the golden rule of holidaying healthily is to remember that relaxing and letting your hair down doesn’t have to entail overindulging, overeating, overdrinking or binging your diet to junk food. In fact, most foreign destinations have delicious, fresh and healthy local produce, so you can eat well whilst experimenting with new cuisines.
Don’t Overindulge At Every Meal
Of course you are entitled to the occasional treat – you are on holiday after all. Moderation is certainly the key here. Limit dessert to one meal a day, and try to share – do you really need the entire slice of that vanilla cheesecake, or would a few mouthfuls suffice? If you’re somewhere hot, why not try eating yoghurt and fresh fruit for breakfast and yummy salads for lunch as an alternative to heavier, starchier foods?
Personal trainer, holistic health coach and Good Zing expert Liz Barnet says, "When on vacation or traveling, don't let the change to your typical routine cause you to go overboard with indulgent food and drink or ditching movement completely. Instead of formal exercise sessions, walk as much as possible – especially uphill or on stairs! When eating out, try to stick to one indulgent item per day, whether it's a carb-heavy option like pasta, a decadent dessert, or a boozy beverage – but not all three. Check out menus in advance and decide before you even go what to order; and be sure not to arrive starving! That's a surefire way to throw out your best laid intentions and overeat."
We all love to unwind on holiday with a good drink. Yet we often forget that alcohol is packed full of empty calories which soon add up. This is where smart drinking comes into play – rather than ordering a poolside mojito, swap sugar-laden cocktails for lower-calorie drinks such as a slimline gin & tonic, a light beer or a glass of red or white wine. Limiting drinking to one meal a day is another good way of keeping the calories down, and will make you appreciate alcohol all the more.
Drink plenty of water, especially whilst flying and in an air-conditioned hotel room. The combination of sun, air-con and alcohol can seriously dehydrate your body. Check out whether you the local tap water is drinkable before you go.
Traveling with a family? Rather than lying on the sun lounger watching the kids play games, why not join in? They will love that you are taking part in their activities and keeping active will burn calories and invigorate your body and mind. You can still fit in your own personal workout, but there are plenty of hours in the day to enjoy fun, physical activity with the rest of the family too! Bring a ball to play beach games, join the kids for a splash in the sea, and hire kayaks or bikes for a trip your kids will never forget.
Walk, Walk, Walk
It’s tempting on holiday, especially when it’s humid, to feel just a tincy bit lazy and end up driving everywhere, even if it’s just to the local grocery store for fresh bread every morning. Well you can guess what’s coming next… walk walk walk! Walking whenever possible saves petrol, burns calories and energises the body and mind for a fun-filled day!
Schedule In Exercise Time
Set aside 30-60 minutes each day to do a little personal exercise (no matter how many games of beach footie you have had with the kids!) Make use of the hotel gym or pool, or even find a local park and work out in the fresh air like the locals. You don’t have to beast yourself every day – you are on holiday, after all.
Even a gentle jog along the beach, a leisurely cycle in the nearby countryside, or a few dozen lengths of the pool can make a world of difference to your physical and mental wellbeing. There really isn’t a shortage of options to the ways in which you can work out on holiday! Why not try brinigng a skipping rope with you from home? It doesn't take up any room in your luggage and is easy to throw into your beach bag, and you can pretty much skip anywhere you want!
Pile On The Sun Cream
Time and time again we’re told to protect ourselves from the sun by lathering on the sun cream. Yet again and again we ignore the advice and forego the sunscreen in order to top-up on our lack of Vitamin D, get that ever-alluring tan or just because we can’t be bothered to spend an extra few minutes coating ourselves in the sticky white substance.
Truth be told, you only need 10 minutes of unprotected sunshine to get your daily dose of Vitamin D, and after that we really should use sun cream. The more we expose our unprotected skin to the sun, the more easily the collagen in our skin breaks down, causing discolouring, lines and wrinkles, and increasing our risk of skin diseases.
Holidays are (in)famously unpredictable. You never know what might go wrong or what situation you’ll get yourself into. Sun cream lotion and after-sun are basic essentials for every holiday, but you should also bring a supply of medications including pain relievers and antacids in case of food poisoning on holiday. Depending on your destination, you may also need to bring insect repellent, anti-malarials, antihistamines or water purification tablets with you. Make sure you do your research before you travel to avoid unnecessary problems.
You’ve come this far trying to eat healthily and stay active, so why not reward yourself and further improve your holiday beauty and wellness by booking a spa day and getting a facial, manicure of massage? Your holiday destination may even have local hot springs that you can enjoy. Spending a day looking after yourself will help you recharge your batteries and leave you feeling positive and refreshed.
Meditate and Practice Yoga
In addition to healthy eating, regular exercise and maybe even a spa day, you can easily improve your mental and spiritual wellbeing on holiday by meditating or practicing yoga. Many holiday destinations run yoga or tai chi classes, and there are plenty of meditation apps out there to help you relax and breathe.
Get Some Good Quality Rest
Let’s not forget that in our daily lives, most of us work hard, experience plenty of stress and likely don’t get enough sleep. Holidays can be a real antidote to this. Take the opportunity to sleep as much as you can. Go to bed early, get up late and take naps during the day. Giving your body plenty of chance to rest will allow your adrenal glands to recover and help you to relax.
You can have an amazing holiday if you remember to take on board as many of these tips as possible and take control of your life! You’ll thank us later when you’re feeling healthy, energized and beautiful on your travels!
Read next: 5 Tips To Dealing With Sickness Abroad