When my husband and I took a trip to the West Coast last week, I didn't let my healthy eating habits take a vacation too. I've already shared my secrets for staying healthy at the airport or on the road, but maintaining my weight loss is a whole different story when I get to my destination. Still, with not a lot of effort, I incorporated a number of (painless) healthy strategies into my trip.
Make exercise a priority
I never used to exercise on vacation. Vacation was supposed to mean a break from my normal routine, right? I'd spend my time lounging around, sipping cocktails, and munching on less-than-nutritious snacks, which left me feeling sluggish and unhappy with myself. Now, I try to include some sort of exercise on all of my vacations to keep myself feeling confident. I've learned that not everyone on my vacation enjoys planning active things like walking tours, hiking, and swimming—but I still make exercise a priority for me.
Packing a resistance band and using the television guide for exercise programs is another great way to work out in the comfort of my hotel room. I also make sure to pack my sneakers and iPod for a quick jog to offset some of those extra vacation calories. I like to run first thing in the morning before everyone else wakes up so I don't miss out on the activities planned for later in the day. If I can't find time for a workout, even a brisk walk after dinner makes me feel good and helps me stick to my healthy habits.
Know when to splurge
Before I lost weight, I wouldn't pay much attention to what I was eating on vacation, but too much indulging had me returning a few pounds heavier and unhappy with myself. Now when I splurge, not just any food will do—it has to be worth it! When I was just in Victoria, British Columbia, my husband and I planned a special wine tour and three-course lunch. Calorie-wise, the wine tour and lunch were a big splurge, but it was a conscious overindulgence with lasting memories—instead of just regular old vacation fare that didn't mean much. To balance out the extra calories, I planned to eat a light breakfast and dinner, so I could fully enjoy my special wine tour with my hubby.
Think small when eating out
Before my weight loss, I would have helped myself to the bread basket, enjoyed a glass of wine, and ordered an appetizer, an entrée, and dessert at a restaurant. I wanted to try everything and didn't pay attention to portion sizes. Rather than repress my foodie urges, I learned to trim my portion sizes up front. On our recent vacation, my husband and I dined at a Spanish tapas restaurant. Tapas are a great way to taste a number of different dishes, but avoid the inflated portion sizes. By ordering less, I didn't overindulge and, at the same time, it adjusted my image of how much to eat. If "small plates" aren't an option, I pair an appetizer with a salad or soup for my meal, which allows me to enjoy many foods of smaller portion sizes.
Navigate the continental breakfast
The hotel where we stayed offered a free continental breakfast. Before my weight loss, I would have picked a fruit Danish and a cup of coffee. A sugary pastry inevitably set me up for disaster because it lacked staying power—I'd be hungry just a couple of hours later. Now, I know the importance of incorporating protein and some healthy fats into my breakfast. If the continental breakfast has a hot bar, I order scrambled eggs or an egg-white omelet. If my breakfast options are limited, yogurt with cereal or an English muffin with peanut butter and fresh fruit are my go-to foods. If the only choices at the continental breakfast are enormous bagels and donuts, I seek out my own healthy foods at a local farmers' market or grocery store, which are typically easy to find and provide a unique opportunity to explore the area and try new items.
To save calories and money during my trip, my husband and I decided to eat in for a few of our meals. For breakfast, it was easy to pack some tried-and-true foods, like instant oatmeal, Lärabars, and whole-grain cereal. Eating in for lunch and dinner are great opportunities to include high-nutrient, high-fiber fruits and vegetables. Veggie-packed sandwiches and salads, for example, are easy ways to get your vegetables and they don't require much prep work. Typically, a market or grocery store with lots of good-for-you options is just a few minutes away and almost as easy as ordering a meal from a restaurant. In most cases, eating in is a healthier and cheaper option!