Two weeks of fun in the sun doesn’t mean you have to let your hard work go to waste. It can take weeks to work off just two weeks of excess calories, so making a few healthy choices on holiday might save you from a lot of pain when you get home.
The annual exodus to foreign climbs is a chance to live a little, to eschew the 6am run and leave the calorie tracker at home. After all, life's too short to spend valuable sightseeing time pounding the pavements for miles and miles, and local cuisine is too good to pass up. But if you lead a healthy, active lifestyle at home, or have worked hard to shift some pounds before your summer holiday, letting go completely may make you feel below-par mentally and physically. You don't want to miss out, but you don't want to go overboard and pile on the pounds either. The good news is that there is a happy medium - you can enjoy your holiday and keep up some semblance of a healthy, active lifestyle. It's all about balance.
For many, it's the regular work-out that goes out of the window once they touch down in a foreign country. You may resolve to be up at dawn for a run, then ten Margaritas happen and you find yourself pressing snooze until 11am. If you don't want your work-out to interfere with your day, you might find that a short work-out before your morning shower will do the trick. Indeed, research by a leading UK university has shown that short bursts of high intensity exercise are just as effective as longer sessions in the maintenance of good health and fitness. Instead of your usual long, steady run, try twenty-second bursts of sprinting interspersed with two minutes recovery for 15-20 minutes. Didn't bring your running shoes? There are plenty of exercises that can be done in your hotel room without the need for weights; push ups, sit-ups, triceps dips and planks to name but a few. Alternate strength moves of this kind with star jumps, mountain climbers and sprinting on the spot to make your own circuit.
Another key factor in maintaining your well-being is, of course, your diet. On holiday you might make slightly bolder food choices - meat from animals you wouldn't dream of eating at home and dishes that are richer or spicier than what your body is used to. You are likely to be eating out every night, and less likely to say no to pudding, you will probably be drinking more alcohol too. This "When in Rome" approach is all part of the experience, but it can leave you feeling heavy, bloated and lacking in energy, which isn't great when you're wearing a bikini all day, or have a packed sightseeing schedule.
When it comes to maintaining a healthy diet on holiday, it's all about damage limitation. To keep your energy up, ensure that you are getting all the nutrients your body needs by taking a multivitamin, and be sure to get your five-a-day. Scour local markets for fresh produce, so even if it isn't on the menu you can still get the vital vitamins and antioxidants fruit and veg provide. To beat bloat, pack some dandelion tea, which is a natural diuretic, or try peppermint, which aids the release of gas from the gut. And remember to drink plenty of water, not just to combat dehydration should you be holidaying in hotter climbs, but to stop water retention. Getting plenty of fibre from fruit, veg and whole grains should keep your gut moving, but should it go the other way, it is a good idea to have some over-the-counter diarrhoea medications and rehydration sachets in your suitcase, just in case the local cuisine doesn't agree with you. If you feel as though you are eating too much, but don't want to pass off that delicious-looking pizza in favour of salad, by all means order it, just don't eat all of it. Contrary to what your grandmother taught you, you don't have to clear your plate.
Holidays should be a time to relax and recharge your batteries, not obsess over what you're eating and how much exercise you are doing. That said, if you want to look and feel your best, it's always good to have some strategies in place to maintain the healthy lifestyle you're used to.
by Kath Webb
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