Have you ever dreamt of a vacation where you do nothing but relax and eat and drink, only to dread coming back home looking like you did nothing but relax, ate, and drank? The reality is that most of us are working longer hours than ever, and the first thing that so many of us cut out of a busy schedule is our fitness regimen, and we fall off the wagon. Longer working hours make the need for a relaxing vacation more important than ever, but if you are like most people, you may come back from your vacation with more pounds but less desire to do anything about it. It doesn't have to be that way. In fact, it is quite possible to emerge from your vacation looking and feeling better that when you left.
When we started our gay tour company, Zoom Vacations, I knew that staying in shape would present its challenges while on the road. However, I was also determined to stay fit and healthy. Since I know that it is much easier to stay in shape than to get in shape, I have had to make a conscious, often creative, effort to exercise and eat right while circling the globe. My arsenal of fitness tips has served me well, and it can help you too. Below are ten tips to transform your body while traveling, so that when you come back, you'll hear lots of "Wow, that vacation did you well!"
1. Maximize your minutes and don't make excuses. Dispel the myth that you need a full hour to have a decent workout. Focus on how even if you find yourself with just ten minutes to spare, you CAN work-out. This is the perfect amount of time to take a brisk walk and explore the hotel or surrounding neighborhood. It is also enough time to do a mini abdominal workout. You might notice that once your abdominal muscles feel tight, it can actually shrink your appetite. You'd be surprised how much more productive and healthy you feel after just 10-15 minutes of push-ups and crunches done in your hotel room.
2. Stretch. Stretching out for a few minutes is the perfect way to start or end your day, and it can keep you limber and flexible so you're ready to tackle a day of touring. Don't forget that stretching also minimizes the negative effects of using pillows and mattresses at hotels that are different than what your back and neck are used to at home.
3. Pack exercise gear including sneakers, shorts, etc. If you pack it, you will feel more obliged to use it!
4. Plan active adventures throughout your trip so that you find yourself exercising without feeling like you are "working out". This can be as simple as just walking everywhere instead of taking taxis if you're in a big city. That's also a great way to see the city intimately rather than trying to hop in a cab or bus to go from place to place. Or, if you are on a beautiful beach or in the middles of centuries old ruins, it may be the perfect opportunity to do a little yoga. I did this with one of our groups in Machu Picchu, and it was phenomenal.
5. Stop "working-out". Since our language forms our reality, try not to use the expression, "working out". If it's got the word "work" in it, we're more apt to subconsciously associate it with laborious tasks. Start telling yourself it's a daily "wake-up" if you prefer exercising in the morning, or an afternoon "pick-me-up". You want to get your body addicted to the dopamine and natural energy you receive after exercising. Any regular gym goer will tell you they tend to feel more tired on the days they DON'T work out, and that's a great way to make it easier to work out regularly.
6. The salad myth. I see so many people on trips forgo the entree of their choosing, in favor of a "healthy" salad. Then I watch as they laden it with fatty dressing, and furthermore snack on unhealthy alternatives, because most salads have neither enough protein nor carbs to sustain us. Instead, EAT WHAT YOU WANT while on vacation and if it's high in fat, eat less of it.
7. Go Family Style. Most people do not crave the amount of food that restaurants dish up, yet we feel obligated to eat it. When in a group, order a few dishes to share, and while everyone will get their fill, we are less likely to feel the burden of consuming all of it.
8. Drink plenty of water. Any facial esthetician will tell you that the best thing you can do for the appearance of your skin is drink lots of water. Plus, the more you fill up on water, the less of a chance you have to get the munchies.
9. Fitness loves company. If you are trying to quit smoking, and you hang out with chain smokers, you're making things harder for yourself. It's the same with fitness. If you travel with fitness focus friends, it will be much easier to keep your own fitness goals. Or at the very least get a friend to force you to the hotel gym while he sits in the hot tub or sauna and then you can feel like the productive one.
10. Take a tour of the best local gym. A lot of people, myself included, love to go to local grocery stores when we travel. It can teach us a lot about the local culture and modern life of the people who live there. It is the same with gyms, and what's more is that just as gyms have become a large piece of the fabric of the gay community in our home towns, and great way to make friends, they can be a great way to meet the locals? Do some internet research before you go about the best local gym, or just ask around when you arrive. That way you are spending your time getting to know the city instead of spending all your time in the hotel and hotel gym. Plus, if you put it in your mental itinerary of places to visit, you're much more likely to see it as a fun activity and not a chore. Next time you're traveling, check out a local gym, and ask for a spot.