How to Lose (or Maintain) Weight on Vacation

How to Lose Weight on Vacation | Our Lady of Second Helpings

Planing to lose weight on vacation can be tricky. In many cases you are setting yourself up to go against the cultural norm. Over the past five years I have lost, maintained, and gained weight while on vacation. Each time the key to success or a weighty surprise has been in the planning. What follows is my personal strategy when making eating and activity choices anytime I am away from home. The steps are simple but when put into action they are the difference between bringing home extra bulk in your saddlebags or just a goofy t-shirt.

How to Lose Weight on Vacation!

1. Set Your Goal

Before you put so much as a sandal in your suitcase, ask yourself: “Do I want to gain, lose, or maintain my weight during this vacation?” Be honest. Recommit to your goal every day you are away. Share your goal with another person. This is a conversation for the glass-half-full folks in your life. If possible, pick someone who already supports your health goals. It particularly helpful to travel with someone a similar weight loss goal. At the very least make a plan to check in with your buddy once or twice while you are away.

2. Stay Hydrated

Pack a water bottle (or two) and top it off every chance you get. It can be very easy to confuse our body’s need for water with hunger. Be especially aware of your need to get in those sips if you are visiting a warm destination or are more active than a typical day at home.

3. Pack Good Shoes

Planing to be active is planing to keep your weight in check. If your suitcase features only “cute” footwear you are cheating yourself out of the option of enjoying some serious activity.

4. Keep Moving

Find an active way to enjoy your vacation spot every day. Rent bicycles. Take a break from laying by the pool and start splashing around. Plan a hike. Many popular vacation spots offer walking or bike tours. Do a little pre-trip internet scouting to learn what is available around your destination, make advance reservations if needed.

5. Be your own Coach

Sorry to break it to you but the calories consumed on vacation absolutely count. To help me choose healthier options for my meals I adopt the mantra, “food is fuel.” I repeat this phrase over and over before choosing a snack, entering a restaurant, looking at a menu, or placing an order. A salad with grilled fish and the dressing on the side will go a long way toward fueling your body until the next eating opportunity.

6. Pick a “Fun” Meal

A healthy vacation does not need to be an exercise in austerity. You’ve got three meals a day to play with, designate one a day to splash out a little. You may be visiting places known for their specialty foods, don’t miss out on those experiences — plan for them. If you visit a famous barbecue joint, treat yourself to the specialty of the house. Maintain a balance by keeping your other meals light and simple. Chances are if you are eating mindfully most of the time you will be less likely to go overboard with your “fun” meal.

7. Plan a Splurge

This may, or may not be, in place of your “fun” meal. I’m a big fan of frozen desserts. When we are on vacation I really like to have a cup or cone of gelato, frozen yogurt, or ice cream most days. Knowing ahead of time where and when this treat will happen makes it easier to turn down baked goods, chocolate shops, or fancy blended coffee drinks that are not part of my plan.

8. Pack a Picnic

Stop in at a local grocery store or super market and pick up some easy to eat options. Fruit, whole or cut, and vegetables are portable and refreshing on hot days. Rinse them before leaving the store so you can grab a bite whenever you are feeling peckish. Many stores (and even coffee shops) offer hard boiled eggs, yogurt, and small packages of cheese for on-the-go protein. Throw in a box of multi-grain crackers or some whole wheat rolls and you’ve got yourself a great balanced, portable, meal to fuel your next adventure.

9. Delay Happy Hour

Don’t sabotage eating in balance by drinking your calories. To avoid overindulgence I suggest holding out until late in the day before adding alcohol. A glass of soda water with a lime wedge and a sprig of mint looks just as pretty as a vodka tonic. Plan to have your one drink with dinner or dessert and sip other things the rest of the day. Additionally, waking to a hangover free morning is another way to keep your health goal on track.

10. Bottom Line: Why Are You Here??

Before heading out the door, take a bit of time to honestly consider your primary vacation goals. Do you want to connect with family, see new scenery, explore an unfamiliar city, visit museums, or sit in peace and read a paperback a day? When you focus your vacation around these immediate goals you may find it easier to stick to your long term health goals. Will eating a cinnamon roll with breakfast everyday give you a better sense of your surroundings? I am going to say no. Sure, people take foodie vacations but even those can be enjoyed in a healthy way IF you are truly committed to coming home without the extra personal baggage.

Honorable mention tips:

  • Bring a cooler, paper plates, napkins, a cutting board and knife – this expands your picnic options.
  • Wear sunscreen – I don’t care what color you are please, PLEASE slather on some SPF.
  • Book a room with a refrigerator – great for snacks or breakfast foods.
  • Book accommodation with a kitchen! – a self catering vacation is the ultimate way to keep track of your eating.

What would you add to this list?

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