I just got back last night from an amazing 4 day trip to New Orleans, a city full of drinking, debauchery, beignets, and rich/spicy food. Needless to say, I was not on my usual healthy lifestyle routine while there. But that doesn't mean I completely ruined my body or undid all of my hard work from the past few months. Now that I'm back and working on getting back to a healthy routine and preparing for my marathon (2 weeks away!), I've been reflecting on what I did right and what I could have done better while on vacation.
Let's start with the positives:
- WALKING. It's simple, easy, and really a great way to explore a new city as you get to really take everything in as you mosey around the side streets and take in the views and the architecture. Not to mention it's a great way to keep your body active and burn a few extra calories if you're not going to get a really good workout in. We walked everywhere we went, and while not all vacation destinations will be conducive to exclusively walking around, if it's a major city, chances are you can get a lot of places with your own two feet.
- Not every meal was a full course meal at a restaurant. As someone who loves travel but is still functioning on a budget with limited disposable income, it financially doesn't make much sense for me to eat out at a restaurant every meal of the day, and really, nutrition/diet-wise it doesn't make sense either. Restaurant portions are always big, the food is always worse for you than if you made the same thing at home, and we're usually tempted to try the richest, most indulgent thing on the menu when traveling and trying local cuisine. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed some great New Orleans food, but it was one meal a day that was large restaurant portions.
- Knowing where to get something quick and healthy. While I'm all for enjoying local flavors and supporting local businesses, it can be good to keep an eye out for quick meals that you can trust. For me, it's Subway. It's pretty inexpensive, I know I can get fresh veggies and the subs are low-calorie (if you do them right), and you can find them in any city.
- Using the hotel's fitness center. I did not do enough of this (in large part because the hotel charged to use their big facility), but most hotels have some sort of fitness room and if you just get a workout in and out of the way early, you're set for the day. Packing workout clothes is definitely worth it as getting in a good workout and a good sweat will make you more energized to take on the day!
Now for the things I wish I had done better:
- Drink lots of water! I did not drink enough water and I know that would have helped me have more energy, kept my digestion a little more regular, and kept my hunger on a regular schedule.
- Make time for enough sleep. I struggled with this for two reasons. 1) While we were in a city known for it's nightlife, we were there for a conference, so there were morning events to be up and ready for everyday as well. 2) Alcohol messes up your sleep schedule. Not much of a drinker usually, enjoying a couple of drinks at night definitely made my sleep less satisfying and usually woke me up earlier than I would have liked. Being tired definitely made it harder for me to be motivated to make my way to the gym in the morning.
- Find some fresh fruits and veggies. I wasn't completely devoid of veggies (a wonderful side effect of being vegan which means most meals include some sort of vegetable), but fresh, raw fruits and vegetables were few and far between. Fresh produce is great for your body, always, and while on vacation the fiber and nutrients can definitely help your body cope with the rich and unusual foods you may be eating. Definitely wish I had sought out a farmer's market while there.
So basically, yes, you can have a healthy vacation, or at least one that isn't a complete health disaster. Doing small things can help to not set you too far back on your plans, and remember, the harder you work when you're not on vacation, the better your body will be able to handle the extra calories and reduced exercise for a few days without gaining pounds or losing strength.
I'm Amanda K; lover of fitness, sweets, veggies, adventure, travel, and happiness.