So, it’s vacation time! You have planned and packed, manicured your nails and toes, spray tanned, strictly followed a fat loss diet and exercise plan to get ready for your new bikini, booked your flights, hotel and outings and it’s time to go!!! You arrive in paradise and enjoy a week of indulgence in buffets, unlimited cocktails and sweets, and hours of nothing but lounging by the pool and come home feeling bloated and puffy and your favorite jeans that fit just a week ago are now extra snug… otherwise known as “vacation hangover”…what gives?
I am currently enjoying a week of bliss in Jamaica and am happy to tell you that there is another way! My husband Wiggy (also a physique competitor) and I are staying at an all inclusive resort where we have 24 hr unlimited access to food and cocktails. Is it tempting? Of course! Is it manageable to live through the week without coming home feeling guilty for enjoying vacation? Absolutely! Below are some key steps and pointers to make it through a week of vacation without feeling deprived while maintaining your fat loss lifestyle.
- Prepare in Advance. When traveling abroad it is next to impossible to prepare meals in advance and bring along massive quantities of food. Instead, we brought our normal supplements, a few containers of roasted unsalted nuts, protein power, and a handful of bars for any emergencies. This ensures that when all that is open is the beach grill offering burgers and fries at 4pm we will have something to eat without waiting until dinner or indulging in a plate of fries and onion rings. We have made friends with one of the “veggie bar” workers who has enjoyed making wonderful post-workout protein shakes for us each day. He mixes our normal protein with fresh coconut water and a bit of fruit and it is super tasty!
- Continue to follow your eating schedule. It is hard to eat every 3 hours on vacation. Often times when I am laying in the sun the last thing I want to do is eat. The sun suppresses hunger especially when you are getting dehydrated. DRINK YOUR WATER and continue to eat small meals every 3 hours. The foods you are eating will inevitably have more salt than you are used to so water is that much more important. Also, pre-emptive eating is absolutely necessary on vacation where food is always at your finger tips!
- Conquer the buffet. It is so easy to overeat at buffets where there are countless options and so many things to try. Our resort serves all 3 meals buffet style unless you are eating at one of the restaurants that require reservations. A few tips here. 1- try to follow your normal diet as closely as possible. For example. Breakfast is an egg white omelet and a small bowl of oatmeal or a few pieces of fruit and lunch is a large salad with a hefty serving of protein and veggies and a few bites of starch. 2- Have a look at all of the options and make decisions about what you will have before going through the line and continuing to load up your plate. Most of us will clean our plates regardless of how much is on them so choose wisely and watch portions. 3- Allow yourself a few bites of local delicacies. I am loving several of the steamed greens that are offered here in Jamaica AND they fit into the lifestyle. Today at lunch they had fried conch, one of my favorite foods that I rarely get to have. I allowed myself one piece and moved along. Having a bite of indulgence allows you to enjoy vacation without feeling deprived OR guilty!
- Take the opportunity to slow down your meals. Rarely do we have the time to sit down and actually dine. On vacation our time is unstructured and we can sit and have a nice conversation while slowly enjoying our food. Several of the restaurants at our resort require reservations and serve 5 courses. The portion sizes are tiny so you have the opportunity to taste lots of flavors without overdoing it. For example, a ceviche appetizer might be 3 bites, followed by a small bowl of soup and a 5 bite salad. The main course is also a small portion but with the leisurely pace, I am amazingly full! Of course the fat loss lifestyle isn’t about eating less volume, but on vacation, this is definitely a great way to manage the constant access to food without feeling deprived.
- Choose indulgences carefully. Every year when we go on our tropical vacation I am AMAZED at how much some people drink. I have watched women pound away 5+ pina coladas over the course of the day by the pool. Wow!! Remember to have either a drink OR dessert with dinner and to choose alcohol carefully. One to two glasses of white wine, Vodka and Club Soda or Spicy Bloody Mary’s are the only cocktails I will drink. I try to limit myself to one every other day. Other nights I will have a few bites of dessert. Almost every couple we meet along with the wait staff asks us why we are drinking iced tea or water instead of beer/purple rain/rum punch etc. It is definitely not the norm in a place like this, but making the right decisions is unfortunately never the easiest way, especially on vacation!
- Get your workouts in! I am here as the Group Fitness Instructor this week so for me this is mandatory :) BUT it is absolutely crucial to keep up with your workouts. It is so easy to say “oh I’m on vacation I just want to relax”. 30 minutes of HIIT or a Metabolic Effect workout will keep your metabolism pumping through the day and make those little indulgences so much less damaging. Staying active with beach volleyball or soccer, walking on the beach, or snorkeling will also help remind your metabolism to keep working. Try to work out in the morning before spending the day in the sun which can really sap your energy.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Remember, you are supposed to enjoy your vacation. Do not expect HUGE fat loss results. I like to think of it as a week of maintenance. My goal is to stay right where I am when I get there and nothing more. I come home feeling refreshed and my favorite jeans still fit :)
HAPPY VACATION!!! Let me know what you guys think! –Emily