It’s that time of year again – the days are getting longer, summer is on the horizon, and for many, this means it’s time to book a holiday. Whether you’re planning a week in the Bahamas or a weekend in Devon, the summer holidays are a great time to relax and unwind from the stresses of day-to-day life.
With breakfast buffets, daily happy hours and long days lounging on the beach however, a summer holiday can often wreak havoc on your diet or fitness levels. Never fear. With a little forward planning and some help from your friends at Fitbug, you can come back from holiday feeling energised and just as fit and healthy (if not more so!) than when you left.
Here are a few tried and tested ways to avoid common holiday pitfalls, and make the most of your destination, wherever you’re going:
1. Take a probiotic a month before you go away
When you’re trying new foods and having adventures, the last thing you want is a case of the dreaded traveller’s stomach. “Travelling overseas where the water, food and environment is different can increase the risk of illness as your body is exposed to different bacteria,” says Fitbug dietitian Laura Tilt. “Take a probiotic a couple of weeks to a month before you head off.” Always research the food and water safety of your destination to avoid catching any bugs.
2. Eat before you get to the airport
To get to your destination feeling energised, Tilt says you should, “eat beforehand so you don’t arrive [at the airport] starving and left faced with the temptation of fast food, salty snacks and sweets.” For the flight, Tilt recommends carrying on a bag of unsalted nuts and some dried or fresh fruit.
3. Align your body clock with your destination
Outsmart jetlag by staying one step ahead. If you are planning on travelling to a country with a different time zone, check the time difference ahead of your flight. You can adjust your body clock slowly by going to bed and waking up earlier or later a few days before you leave. Try setting your clock to your destination time as soon as you board. If it’s time to sleep in your destination, attempt to fall asleep on the plane. This way, when you arrive you will already be more in sync with the time zone.
4. Check out the options for walking / cycling
Be adventurous and explore your surroundings on foot or by bicycle – you’ll notice things you might not see from a car window and burn off some serious calories at the same time.
5. Have a one-plate policy at the buffet
“Buffet-style eating can be the worst for healthy eating as studies show we’re hard wired for the unhealthy foods,” says Tilt. “Combat this by checking all the options first then making your choice and stick with the one plate rule – you can fill your plate once and there’s a no-return policy.”
6. Drink smart
To enjoy your holiday drinks and stay healthy at the same time, Tilt says “stick with spirits and slimline mixers, or wine and soda spritzers – cream based cocktails like White Russians and Pina Coladas can pack up to 600 calories a glass”. To wake up feeling fresh, Tilt says “match every drink with a glass of water and beware the standard double or larger measures”.
7. Eat fresh, local food
A great (and healthy!) way to discover new foods and flavours: check out local markets and independent shops for an authentic taste of the regional cuisine. “Chances are local foods will be fresher and have fewer additives and preservatives,” says Tilt.
8. Check out fun activities
Holidays are a great opportunity to break out of your routine and try exciting new activities that aren’t offered at home. Fitbug exercise specialist Nicky Lawson says, “try out some water sports at the beach – water skiing, kayaking, windsurfing, kite boarding; even pedal boats will help maintain fitness levels while doing something fun!” Try something you’ve always wanted to do, and chances are, you won’t even be thinking about the calories you’re burning while you’re having a great time and making new memories.
9. Have some body weight workouts ready
The great thing about body weight workouts is that they can be done anytime, anywhere – whether that’s on the beach or in your hotel room. To come back toned as well as tanned, plan a workout ahead of time.
Fitbug personal trainer Rory Knight says: “Choose 5-8 exercises (preferably compound movements that work more than one muscle group, e.g. squats, push ups, lunges, hip bridges, planks or burpees). Then, decide how long you want to spend on each exercise (45 seconds is a good average). Keep your heart rate up by following each exercise up immediately with the next, if you can, and take a 1 minute rest before repeating another set (3 sets is about average).”
10. Book a fitness class / personal training session for when you get back
“I always ask my clients to book their first PT session with me for the first week they are back,” says Lawson. “This way, they get back into the swing of things straight away and those holiday habits don’t extend beyond the time they are away.”