It’s that time of year again! The expat school year is coming to a close and many of us are wrapping up last minute details, packing up our belongings and heading out of Thailand for a holiday amongst family and friends. It’s the greatest time of the year! But, let’s face it, it can also be a difficult time for our health and nutrition.
My 13 year old came to me last week with this exact concern. He said that he didn’t want to lose the ‘gains’ (his word, not mine) that he had worked on throughout the year. He lamented that he would eat too much in the US over the summer and he wouldn’t have his ‘gym’ to work out in.
The next evening I heard him talking to my mother on the phone asking her to install a pull up and a dip bar in her house before our arrival so that he would be suitably outfitted to do his daily workouts. At first I laughed at his overzealous spirit, but after I thought about it for a bit, I realised what a great idea. He is making sure he stays fit while on holiday. We should all be so motivated!
Feeling inspired by my 13 year old son, I decided to come up with my own 5 things I will do to keep my ‘gains’ going this summer! Or is it losing my ‘gains’? I’m not sure really, but here is what I am going to do to stay fit healthy while I travel!
1. Exercise. This is easy, right? Wrong … whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure getting the appropriate amount of exercise is never easy. What you need to do is plan for exercise.
Pack all your exercise shoes and fabulous workout clothes in your suitcase, as well as any gym equipment that you can fit in. OK, I’m not talking barbells. I’m thinking more like jump rope, resistance rope, and hand tubing.
My son never leaves home without them!
Also, walk whenever you can. If you are stuck in the airport for a long layover go for a walk. Climb stairs instead of taking the elevator. If you are in a big city walk instead of taking the bus or the subway. Every bit counts. Lastly, if you wear a Fitbit or an iWatch, set daily goals for yourself and try to stick to them at least 3 to 4 times a week.
2. Portion control. Whenever we travel to new places it’s important to experience the entire culture which usually means indulging in the local cuisine. If we are travelling back to our home country, we are usually excited to get back to our comfort food. Remember, that when you are on holiday you can indulge in your favourite local dishes but you also need
to be sure not to overdo it. Here are a few suggestions how:
• Before you head out to a restaurant make sure you don’t turn up starving. Have a healthy snack before you go. Make yourself a small salad or a handful of mixed nuts.
• Drink water while eating your meal. This will help fill you up and it has no calories.
• Share a dessert. One or two bites should do the trick and hopefully sooth your sweet tooth!
• Leave half the meal on your plate or have the waitress pack it up before you even begin to eat. You can still finish the whole meal, just save half of it for lunchtime tomorrow. This way you don’t waste any food and you still get to eat what you love.
3. Alcohol control. Usually travel, whether its business or pleasure, involves drinking more alcohol than you might if you were at home. If you are out at a bar catching up with friends or meeting up with business partners on a nightly basis, make sure you pace yourself.
Before you head out, make an effort to decide how much you will drink that night.
Give yourself a cut off of 2 drinks and then order a soda water with lime, because it looks like an alcoholic drink without actually being an alcoholic drink! If you are looking for a low calorie drink, usually a Vodka soda with lime is your best bet as it has no added sugar.
Remember, alcohol lowers our inhibitions, which can wreak havoc on our healthy eating, we tend to indulge much more after a few drinks than we would have before.
4. Keep hydrated. It sounds simple enough right? But the reality is most times we don’t even realise that we are not drinking enough water. When you are travelling, drink as much water as possible as it reduces fatigue, helps flush out any toxins, helps improve skin complexion and boosts the immune system. Add a slice of lemon and you have added more nutrient benefit without adding any calories.
5. Breathing and stretching. Being mindful is important while you are travelling. You know that travel, without a doubt, can be very stressful at times. And while your holiday is usually more fun than not, it’s important to practice stress release whenever you can.
Breathing in and out slowly for 10 minutes, and completely focusing on this task relaxes the mind and the body. Also 5 to 10 minutes of stretching first thing in the morning, right as you are waking up can allow our blood to start flowing and raising our awareness and our energy levels for the rest of the day.
So there’s my list on how I am going to stay healthy and strong this summer. I am looking forward to hopping on that plane and heading off into the sunset (with my running sneakers and shorts, of course!). Safe travels to everyone and enjoy the adventure!
Tara Lynn Conrad is a certified clinical nutritionist. Tara can help change your diet, lifestyle and the way you feel about food. You can find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tlcnutritionnow