Stealthy Tricks for a Healthy Vacation
Making healthier choices can be challenging when you're alone, but add the dynamic of friends or family on vacation and it can appear nearly impossible. It seems like every time I go on a trip my good intentions fly out the window.
That's why, when some friends asked me to join them for a long weekend, I decided I had to find a way to fight back. I put together my stealthy healthy plan.
The first thing was to prepare my snacks. When you travel, there aren't many places you can stop and grab healthy food. On the road, you're surrounded by drive-thru chains and gas station treats. In the air you've got peanuts (or pretzels) and more fast food in the airport.
I eat at least three meals a day and two snacks. That meant I had to plan on two snacks for each day I was going to be away.
To take care of day one I packaged up a couple of home-made protein bars. (We've tested hundreds of recipes, just click here!) For each day after that, I brought a commercial protein bar and a serving of cocoa or cinnamon-dusted almonds. I usually eat the protein bar earlier in the day so it doesn't have a chance to melt and then I eat the almonds in the afternoon. If it's a particularly active vacation I may also plan on bringing a piece of sturdy fruit like an apple or orange.
Because I went with a very small group, I prepared snacks for them too. I handed the food out each morning so when our energy levels started to drop, we would have options instead of just eating what's convenient. If you're going to an amusement park, this idea helps you cut calories, save money and time because you can eat while you're waiting in line. I'm proud to say that we spent four days at amusement parks but didn't eat a single hot dog or funnel cake!
Pedometer / Motivation
The second thing I did was bring along a pedometer. That's a device that you carry with you to tell how many steps you've taken. If you have a smart-phone, there are several apps you can download that do the same thing. I showed it to my friends and mentioned that my goal was to take at least 8,000 steps a day. (That's the public health minimum physical activity recommendation daily.)
Once the walking started, I found my friends would ask every couple of hours, "How many steps have we taken?" When choices came up between taking a short cab ride or walking, I was surprised when they decided to walk so they could "get more steps in." It became a contest each day to see if we could go a little further than the day before. The first day we walked 12,000 steps, but by the fourth, we set a personal record of 22,372.
Every 2,000 steps equal roughly a mile in distance, so that means our last day we walked nearly 11 miles!
When it came time for a real meal, I looked for restaurants that we could walk to (getting more steps in) and that had the healthiest selections. But even with that, occasionally we ended up in places that had nothing but 1,200 calorie gut-busting meals. No problem, I simply offered to split my order with one of my friends. That cut our calories in half, saved us some money and we left feeling full, but not uncomfortably stuffed.
To make sure I got my workouts in, I looked for hotels that had a 24-hour gym. That way I could go early in the morning before breakfast or in the evening when everyone else was relaxing before dinner. I didn't do anything elaborate, just simple 30-minute workouts. For those nights when I stayed with family or a gym wasn't available, I brought along a list of exercises I could do in a hotel room, without any equipment.
Each choice I made was a small one, but for the first time in years, I came back from a trip with a LOWER bodyfat than I left with. I enjoyed myself more because I wasn't worried about my health and my friends were able to share in the benefit.
The next time you go on vacation do yourself and the people you're with a favor: Try the stealthy healthy approach.
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