By Nicole Nichols, Managing Editor and Fitness Expert at SparkPeople
Vacation season is here! You deserve a break, after spending the last few months becoming a fitter, healthier you, right? While vacation is a time to relax and take a break from work, stress, and the usual routine, it shouldn't be a break from your healthy habits.
With a little planning, you can enjoy your vacation and still maintain your current weight and fitness level. Whatever your plans - a family road trip, a tropical cruise, a sightseeing tour, or relaxing on the beach - you can avoid packing on those dreaded vacation pounds by packing some healthy foods and workout gear instead.
If you're traveling by car, you've already spent a lot of time planning your course. We all want to make good time, but it's also important to schedule several breaks into your itinerary, especially if you have kids:
- Pack a cooler full of healthy snacks, and even complete meals. Chopped veggies, fresh fruits, bottled water and juice, low-fat yogurt, peanut butter sandwiches, popcorn and pretzels make easy travel fare.
- Don't skip meals, and try not to go more than 4 or 5 hours without eating. Being famished at mealtime may hinder your ability to make healthy choices and trigger overeating. Plus, constant energy levels will keep you alert at the wheel.
- Avoid eating full meals in the car. Take time to stop, relax and enjoy your meal. This way, you can pay closer attention to your hunger and satiety signals.
- Plan exercise and stretching breaks as well. Just three 10-minute pit stops add up to 30 minutes of activity. Go for a quick jog or walk, stretch and run around with the kids. Back in the car, you'll be more alert and energetic.
- Avoid coffee and caffeinated drinks. While they do give you a short energy burst, the drop when caffeine wears off can make you even more tired. For stable energy levels, drink plenty of water and eat healthy, whole foods that keep blood sugar levels from spiking and dropping.
- Be wary of fast food and roadside restaurants. If you have no other options, choose the healthiest possible items and keep portion sizes small. One way to avoid excess calories and fat is to hold the mayo, special sauces, cheese and dressings. Also opt for non-breaded items and kid-sized portions.
SparkPeople Fitness Expert Nicole Nichols is an ACE-certified personal trainer and AFAA-certified group fitness instructor. You can learn more about Nicole and her workout DVDs here.