Welcome to vacation season – that time when all of those months of healthy eating and exercising to get into swimsuit shape finally pay off. But it can only take a week to fall off the health wagon and erase some of those hard-earned efforts. While you will want to enjoy and eat what you want (it is vacation, after all), here are some tips that allow you to do that without blowing your health goals:
1. Get away.
If you’re still debating whether or not to take a trip this summer, do it: Research shows that hanging out with your favorite pals, having a good laugh and sharing quality bonding time is just as effective – if not better than – exercise for reducing stress. That’s important if you’re working to melt away or stave off stubborn belly fat, which is linked to the stress-related hormone cortisol. So hanging out with you friends is a win for your social life, happiness – and waistline.
2. Be Prepared.
While vacation is for giving your mind and body a break from all the rules and regimens of everyday life, totally ignoring your health will only add stress to your life when you return home. Make it easy to make at least one meal or snack a day healthy by packing some staples such as individual packets of unsweetened rolled oats or some plant-based protein to add to your morning smoothie. After all, swimsuits don’t take up that much space. If you’d rather bring a fourth pair of flip-flops than food, try carrying on. Even if you just pack a healthy snack or meal for the plane, train or car ride to your destination, it’s a step in the right direction, and your body will thank you.
3. Move it, move it.
If you’re not one for hitting the hotel gym when you could be on the beach, fret not. Sightseeing, trying new water sports, exploring and even shopping burns calories. The more you’re moving, the more you’re burning. Forgot something in your hotel room? Take the stairs. And don’t forget to dance the night away. An hour of dancing burns nearly 450 calories.
4. Skip the buffet.
While buffets are synonymous with hotel stays, the cornucopia of food displays can make your eyes bigger than your stomach and cause you to eat more. Even if you think you’re disciplined and choose healthy options and fill a small plate, it’s hard for anyone to resist the temptation (and the apparent cost savings) to go up for seconds. Instead, order a meal off the menu – a strategy that forces you to stick to one plate.
5. Stay hydrated.
Whether you’re basking in the sun, busy with activities or sipping on pina coladas, chances are you’re flirting with dehydration. On an average day, you should be drinking half your body weight in ounces. (So, if you’re 160 pounds, that’s 10 8-ounce glasses.) When you’re in the heat, active, sweating or sipping on cocktails, you need to be drinking even more than that.
Make time to relax. After all, that is point of vacation, right? De-stressing is essential in regulating cortisol levels, which can wreak havoc on belly fat. Catching up on sleep also helps to regulate your hunger hormones. When you compromise sleep, your body produces more ghrelin (the hormone that triggers hunger) and less leptin (the hormone that tells you to stop eating). Adequate levels of sleep – seven to eight hours – regulate your hunger hormones and can help shed that unwanted, stubborn fat. Happy healthy vacationing!