Planning a healthy vacation

I recently went on an anniversary trip to the Pacific Northwest with my husband, Schmon. I can’t tell you which anniversary we were celebrating because I don’t believe in putting information about my personal life online. That would be insane. But it was while we were whale watching off the coast of Seattle that I noticed everyone in the boat kept looking and pointing at me. Like many people, I tend to put on a few extra pounds when on vacation. Now I don’t mean to complain, much of this was my fault. For instance, I have been known to set “vacation goals” such as napping for more hours than I am awake or eating my weight in food over the course of a week. But still, it was upsetting.

Look at all the whales!

Regardless of your vacation style, it’s easy to skip your workouts, splurge on calories and gain a few extra pounds. In a study by a University of Georgia faculty member, it was found that adults going on a one- to three-week vacation gained an average of one pound during their trip. I find this very hard to believe, as my “vacation bonus” tends to come in closer to 10-15 pounds, but whatever. The study also concluded that it might take up to six weeks to lose your vacation weight. It should be noted that if you’re stressing out for six weeks about losing ONE pound, I’m not interested in speaking to you ever again.

But for those of you who attempt to skip the vacation jiggles altogether, here are a few excellent tips for planning a healthy vacation that I always consider, but never follow.

Roll your clothes

Packing workout clothes for every day of your vacation means you’re packing double the clothes. So roll your clothes rather than folding them. They’ll take up less room and they won’t get as wrinkled. You may also want to consider packing cotton tees to wear to bed AND your morning workout. You won’t get to show off that sick Nike tank you love, but it will save you one item per day.

Pack breakfasts

If you’re anything like me, you can’t wait to make out with the continental breakfast pancakes, cinnamon rolls and muffins. But it’s not the best idea to start your day with one million empty calories…or make out with your food. Consider packing some oatmeal packets (if your room has a microwave), fruit that won’t spoil (I’m looking at you apples) or healthy protein bars for your breakfasts. Make some coffee in your room, enjoy your breakfast and walk confidently past that smug continental breakfast like Carrie Bradshaw right before she gets soaked by that bus. The feeling of accomplishment so early in the day will also help you make healthier choices the rest of the day.

Find active transportation

Not every vacation involves rock climbing or canoeing, but you can still make small active choices through out the day. Thinking of exploring a new area? See if the neighborhood has a bike rental or bike sharing program—or steal a bike (what?)—then bike from location to location. There’s no need to kick it into high gear and race your vacation buddies, but biking will be better for you and cheaper than opting for a hop-on-hop-off bus—plus, you’ll look like less of a dummy. If you don’t know how to ride a bike, consider walking from spot to spot. Then as soon as you get home, learn how to ride a bike. While a 1.5 mile walk to work or the grocery store might seem long, time is on your side when vacationing. Plus you might discover a new restaurant that you might not have seen otherwise.

Plan ahead

Finally, it’s important to plan ahead. Check to see if your hotel has a gym or if they offer Beachbody On Demand. If not, look up some exercises that you can do in the room—SparkPeople.com has tons of great exercises and videos. Then buy your travel buddies earplugs, so they can sleep while you jump, grunt and breathe heavily 3½ feet away. Also be sure to look at menus or download an app like HealthyOut to find a few restaurants that offer healthy options.

Or you can just do what I do and wait until you get to your destination, open up the “near me” section of Google Maps and type in “bacon”. Your choice. Either way, I hope you enjoy your next vacation and I also hope I’m invited. You know where to find me…locked in a closet with some pancakes and cinnamon rolls.