Don’t let fit­ness go south this win­ter


Go­ing south for the win­ter months is sup­posed to be re­ju­ve­nat­ing, but all too of­ten we come back sev­eral pounds heav­ier be­cause the time away from our reg­u­lar rou­tine is an ex­cuse to give up all our healthy habits - we stop ex­er­cis­ing and watch­ing what we eat be­cause we think heck, I de­serve a break.

I want you to get a respite from the rou­tine of your daily life too, but does that mean overeat­ing, over­drink­ing and ditch­ing work­outs so you feel worse when you get home? There is a bet­ter way…

I be­lieve there is a bal­ance be­tween main­tain­ing a healthy rou­tine and still hav­ing a great time trav­el­ing. In fact, you can come back fit­ter, be­cause stud­ies show that habit change is eas­i­est when peo­ple are in con­texts dif­fer­ent from their ev­ery­day life. This is be­cause all habits have trig­gers, and if you re­move your­self from your en­vi­ron­ment, you lose some of those cues - like snack­ing as soon as you come home from work or watch­ing the news in­stead of work­ing out. If you want to quit smok­ing or start a walk­ing rou­tine, be­ing away from home for a while might be just the place to do it.

But re­mem­ber, when you are in new sur­round­ings, you also lose some trig­gers for good habits too! With a lit­tle plan­ning, you can make it eas­ier to im­ple­ment some healthy rou­tines while you are away. Here are some tips on how to have a great va­ca­tion and come home feel­ing bet­ter than ever:

Plan to work out ev­ery day. When I say “plan”, I mean be­fore you even leave home, sched­ule time to ex­er­cise each day while you are away. If you are trav­el­ing with your fam­ily, make sure you are clear with ev­ery­one that you need time to work out daily. Added bonus: some­one else will prob­a­bly want to ex­er­cise with you.

Choose a place to stay so work­ing out is easy. Choose your va­ca­tion lo­ca­tion with ex­er­cise in mind. There should be a gym nearby with the equip­ment or classes you like. If you work out out­doors, stay in an area that has beau­ti­ful and ac­ces­si­ble run­ning or walk­ing routes. Added bonus: run­ning or brisk walk­ing is a great way to get to know a new place.

Bring your fit­ness tracker. Wear­ing a de­vice that clocks your calo­rie burn or miles cov­ered keeps you mo­ti­vated. You could get enough ex­er­cise just ex­plor­ing your new home. Added bonus: you can have new ex­pe­ri­ences and fit­ness at the same time.

En­joy the food with­out overeat­ing. It is won­der­ful to eat at new restau­rants and try new foods, but we can do that with­out overindulging. In fact, the first bite is usu­ally the best and our en­joy­ment of the food dis­si­pates the more we eat of it (which is why “good to the last drop” is such a com­pli­ment). To re­ally en­joy new tastes, eat mind­fully – chew well and put your fork down be­tween bites! Split menu items with your din­ner com­pan­ions so you can sam­ple more while eat­ing less. Prac­tice the Ok­i­nawan habit of hara hachi bu- leav­ing the

table just 80 per cent full. Added bonus: feel­ing too full is an anti-aphro­disiac, so eat less and have more sex. Limit your al­co­hol in­take. I sound like a party pooper, but a study by Univer­sity of Ge­or­gia’s Col­lege of Fam­ily and Con­sumer Sci­ences found par­tic­i­pants dou­bled their al­co­hol in­take while on va­ca­tion. Al­co­hol con­tains quite a few calo­ries on its own, but be­cause it lim­its in­hi­bi­tions, stud­ies also show that when we drink we tend to eat more too. Added Bonus: you won’t waste pre­cious time feel­ing hung over. En­joy a healthy kitchen. Be­ing in a new place is a great way to start from scratch when it comes to the foods in your larder. Stock only healthy food and make a point to make most of your meals. Food cooked in your kitchen has less fat, salt and calo­ries than what you get in a restau­rant. If you do have some treats, put them high up on shelves and way to the back, which will min­i­mize mind­less snack­ing. Re­mem­ber be­ing in a new place is the per­fect time to start some healthy habits! But if you do eat out…

Find healthy restau­rants. I make bet­ter choices when I go on­line and choose what I am go­ing to eat be­fore I ar­rive at the restau­rant. Stud­ies show that we all make smarter food de­ci­sions in ad­vance, rather than when we are al­ready at the table with a hun­gry tummy and a menu full of fatty, salty, sweet foods in front of us. To find the healthy places to eat, I use travel health eat­ing apps like Happy Cow, My Fit­ness Pal, CDC’s Travwell, Eat Out Well, and Can I Eat this? With these apps, I can al­ways find great but healthy food wher­ever I go. Added Bonus: you’ll find places off the beaten tourist track.

Look for ac­tive

ac­tiv­i­ties. You are away from your nor­mal rou­tine, why do nor­mal things? Look around for cy­cling groups and hik­ing groups to join, or bet­ter yet spelunk­ing and scuba lessons. Do an In­ter­net search com­bin­ing your dream ac­tiv­ity with your dream lo­ca­tion and see what you come up with - it might change where you win­ter this year! Added bonus: you’ll meet di­verse peo­ple with healthy, ac­tive lifestyles.

Weight gain when we travel adds to “creep­ing obe­sity”, that com­mon pat­tern of adults adding small amounts of weight over long pe­ri­ods of time. Even if you just gain a pound or two, why mar a lovely trip with the stress of get­ting back into shape when you get back home? You can have fun, re­lax, en­joy de­li­cious food and still come home feel­ing healthy and fit. Just fol­low these few sim­ple guide­lines, and I am will­ing to bet your time away this win­ter will be the best ever.

Alexan­dra Paul is a cer­ti­fied health coach with clients all over the world and is in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized for her role on the TV series “Bay­watch.” Visit Alexan­draCoach­ for a free 20-minute con­sul­ta­tion with Alexan­dra.


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