If you’re like me, then the last thing you want to think about on a beach vacation is exercise and diet. After all, we go on vacation to escape our daily routines and to break the rules, right?
However, nothing is more frustrating than coming home with an extra ten pounds from a week of overindulging. We all know those ten pounds never come off as easy as they went on.
Thus, I offer some simple tips on how to enjoy your trip to the beach without gaining weight.
Take a morning beach walk.
While I generally detest exercising on vacation, one of my favorite things to do on any beach vacation is to begin the day with a sunrise walk. I started this routine for meditative purposes as the beach is my “special place.” Now that we have nine-month old that wakes us up before sunrise, those morning walks have morphed into a welcome family bonding moment.
On our trip to Carolina Beach, we began each day with a family walk to the boardwalk and back – roughly two miles. It was a great way to watch the sunrise and burn some calories at the same time. Added bonus, according to Journal of Experimental Biology, beach walking burns 2.1 to 2.7 times more calories than walking on flat surfaces.
Eat in two meals a day.
According to the University of Toronto, the average restaurant meal weighs in at 1,128 calories. Now multiply that by three to see how eating out for each meal can demolish your diet (let alone leave room for that extra intake of alcohol you’ll be consuming on vacation…).
On your next beach vacation, book a vacation rental condo or house so that you have access to a kitchen. We booked our one-bedroom ocean front condo at Carolina Beach through TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals and found it to be cheaper (and roomier) than a traditional hotel room. If you don’t have a kitchen in your vacation accommodations, then be sure to plan your restaurant choices in advance to avoid traditional burger and fries fast food whenever possible.
Pack some kitchen essentials like olive oil, spices, etc.
Many are deterred from cooking in rental units because the essentials like olive oil, cooking spray, and spices are missing. A travel hack is to plan your meals ahead and pack ingredients from home that you think you’ll need on vacation. On our last trip, we packed olive oil, kosher salt, black pepper, mayonnaise, and catsup.
Pack healthy snacks.
By limiting yourself to only three meals a day, you’re actually starving your body. When the next meal comes around, you’re famished and instinctively reach for fattier foods to replenish the calories your body is craving.
Plan a healthy morning and afternoon snack to ward off the hunger monster. Since you’ll be at the beach, look for items that won’t spoil and yet aren’t stripped of nutrients and vitamins. I like Crispy Green fruit snacks. Their freeze-drying technique strips out the water, leaving behind a dry, crispy snack that still fulfills our daily fruit intake (and is delicious).
Only halfway splurge on breakfast.
I love a big, hearty breakfast on vacation – eggs, grits, bacon, sausage, hash browns, the works. However, all of those fatty foods quickly fill up your calorie consumption quota for the day. A traditional egg, bacon, and hash brown breakfast clocks in at 600 calories or more. This is well beyond the 350-500 calorie range that the University of Columbia recommends.
To enjoy a hearty vacation breakfast while dialing back the calorie knob, make one of the following substitutions. Choose turkey sausage and bacon over fattier pork products. Order an egg white omelet over a traditional omelet. Leave out the hash browns and pile some fresh local fruit onto your plate.
Make one meal a day a salad.
I learned this tip from a friend who was a traveling consultant that loved to eat. I asked her how she stayed so skinny given that she eats out Monday through Friday. Her response was to make one meal a day a salad. Since then, most of my lunches are salads, especially on vacation.
Pre-cook some freezer meals.
While I love to cook at home, I hate cooking on vacation. I’m there to relax and escape my daily household chores, like cleaning up after an elaborate dinner. Yet, if I stick to the “eat in two meals a day plan,” I realize a few of those meals will be dinner. Thus, I cook a few freezer meals in advance (like homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs), so I can simply thaw and warm.
Avoid boat drinks.
One of the major culprits of vacation weight gain are those fruity and frothy boat drinks that we’ve been dreaming about. However, those boat drinks come packed with 700 calories each! Not to mention that they are typically loaded with over 50 grams of sugar, exceeding the FDA recommended amount.
If you must, limit yourself to one or two boat drinks throughout the week. For the rest of your poolside cocktails, mix vodka with fruit infused water or make a spritz with white wine and sparkling water.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Even if the only exercise you partake in on vacation is a walk to the ocean or pool to cool down, you are still dehydrating your body from sweating. We may think that those All Day IPAs are helping to rehydrate our body, but they are doing more harm than good. Alcohol actually dehydrates your body even more. At some point, our brain starts to confuse thirst with hunger, and we overeat.
I’m not telling you to avoid alcohol altogether. I sure don’t on vacation. I do try to consume water between each beer though to keep my body hydrated and maintain recommended levels of water intake.
To help make sure you are consuming your daily water intake on vacation, order some Ounce Water. Their easy to follow tracking system (drink two 40-ounce bottles a day or four 20-ounce bottles) will help keep you on track. I packed my cooler of beer with two 40-ounce bottles of Ounce and made sure to drink it between each beer.
Don’t drink alcohol before noon.
I know you’re on vacation and feel that you earned that breakfast bloody or mimosa. However, starting the day with alcohol will only lead you to break even the minimal vacation rules for your diet.
Consuming alcohol after your body has been starved for over eight hours of food causes us to feel that alcohol even more, lowering inhibitions and leading to rounds two and three. Thus, the dehydration process begins early and overeating and drinking occurs.
What other tips for staying healthy on a beach vacation can you offer?
– By Bryan Richards, The Wandering Gourmand