Make it a “Stay-Fit Vacation”

Summer’s here!  It’s time to head to the beach, the mountains, or perhaps a more exotic port of call.  Or maybe you have a “stay-cation” in mind…Six Flags, the water park or one of the area lakes.

Whatever your plans, there’s no need to get off-track on your fitness goals when you hit the road with your family.

I’ve put together a few simple “on the road” and “in the air” snack ideas, along with a couple of “do anywhere” workouts.  Sure, summer is a time to relax, have fun and make lifetime memories; but it’s not an excuse to turn into a couch potato.

Why not get everything you want out of your vacation and still lose weight, add a little muscle or just maintain your healthy lifestyle?  All it takes is a little planning.

First things first: Drink water. Hydrate!

While you’re on the road, keep the water flowing, especially if you have notched up your caffeine intake to fend off drowsiness.  Sure, you’ll have to make more pit stops along the way; but your body will reward you with more eye-popping energy. 

If you’re flying, buy a big bottle of water immediately after you pass through security.  Low humidity levels in pressurized airplane cabins cause dehydration. Prevent it by drinking at least eight ounces of water each hour you’re in the air, and by resisting the urge to order soda or alcohol from the flight attendant.  When you arrive at your destination, you‘ll feel excited and energized, rather than jet-lagged, if you simply hydrate your body while flying. 

When it comes to eating on the road, my best advice is to pre-pack your food.  I shouldn’t have to tell you that the roadside truck stop is not your friend.  Fatty, over-processed and packaged foods will sabotage your fitness goals, while making you crabby and tired.

Remember the good ole days when Mom packed up a bag full of sandwiches?  Wasn’t that the greatest?  She knew what she was doing, and you’d be wise to follow her example.  Simply fill a cooler with healthy treats and stow it within arm’s reach…not tucked away in the back of the car.  Pack chopped veggies, fruit, almonds, pistachios, string cheese and homemade meals.  Buy a few snack-size tuna packs, and throw in some protein powder and a shaker.  Pull the car over at a scenic overpass or other interesting rest stop and have a picnic.  These are the memories that last!

Snacks for flying should likewise be planned ahead of time.  Load a carry-on with veggies, fresh and dried fruits, protein powder and your favorite shaker. I can’t tell you how many times my protein shake saved me from a snacking catastrophe.  The protein will keep you feeling strong and on the right track.  Don’t forget: Those little airport shops carry most of the same horrendous snacks as the truck stops.  They may be well disguised to look healthy, but a quick glance at the ingredients label will tell you they’re loaded with salt and sugar. Do your body, and your wallet, a favor and come prepared.

Okay, you’ve arrived.  It’s time to squeeze in your workouts!  Most hotels these days have decent little gyms.  All you need is some cardio and a few dumbbells.  If you aren’t near a gym, just head outdoors.  Nothing feels better than exercising while you’re on vacation. You’ll feel like you’re accomplishing something, because you are! 

Get at least 30 minutes of cardio most of the days you’re away from home.  That’s easy enough, right?  Walk, swim, surf, hike, bike…you get the picture.  It doesn’t have to be a treadmill.  Make it fun, something you and your family look forward to doing, and it won’t even feel like exercise!

Now, mix in a basic workout like the one below occasionally, and you’ll really be doing it right.  Remember, this is vacation.  There’s no need to kill yourself; just burn some calories, pump your muscles and energize!  Keep it simple:

•    12 walking lunges
•    12 squat presses
•    12 bicep curls
•    12 dumbbell rows
•    12 tricep dips
•    Finish with as many push-ups as you can do

Do this as a circuit, meaning one exercise after another.  Complete the circuit up to four times.  If you’re just beginning on your fitness regimen, be kind to yourself and start slowly.  You don’t even need to use weights for this workout.  As you become more comfortable with the movements, and are ready to step it up a notch, add some light- to medium-weighted dumbbells; or add an extra circuit or two. To increase your intensity, and push your conditioning level, add two minutes of some type of cardio at the end of each circuit.  This could be jumping rope, jump squats, running in place or, hey, how about a few burpees?  Modify your workout and proceed at your own pace.  It should feel good! 

The bottom line is this: Vacations and maintaining your healthy lifestyle goals really do go hand-in-hand.  Stick to these simple tips, and you’ll return home sun-kissed, refreshed and, just maybe, a little tighter, healthier and fitter.  And perhaps best of all – with no regrets!

Chani Overstreet is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer and co-owner of Strada Fitness & Wellness Center with her husband, Luke.  Strada is a state-of-the-art fitness studio located at 3041 Churchill Drive, Suite 100, in Flower Mound, across from Lifetime Fitness.  Call 972.330.4300 or visit for more information.

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