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Desperately trying to lose weight before vacation just so you can gain those pounds back while you're there? Secretly feeling guilty about dreading the week-long extravaganza because you don’t want to gain weight from ice cream cones and beers? We’ve all been there.
Vacations seem to give us permission to throw caution — or in this case, healthy eating choices — to the wind and become eating machine versions of ourselves that we barely recognize. But it doesn’t have to be that way!
You can come back from vacation this year having enjoyed the culinary experience and still fitting into your favorite dress. In other words, you can have your cake by the ocean and your bikini bod, too. Here’s how:
1. Order right.
Think of vacation time as having your own personal chef all week long. At home, you may not make fish because your husband hates the smell that lingers in your kitchen, or you may love a good dim sum, but have no idea how to use bamboo.
On vacation, you can take advantage of dining out and exploring new dishes while having someone else prepare them for you. This doesn’t mean they need to be unhealthy. Quite the contrary, actually — use dining out as a time to try a new fish (lemongrass mackerel sound good?) or a veggie side dish (broccoli rabe with lemon and pine nuts anyone?). Not only may you lose weight, but you’ll be inspired to start creating some of these dishes at home, too.
The best dining out formula to follow: Lean protein and double veggies.
2. Double up on fitness.
Most vacations provide us with leisure time. Vacation is the time to double up on your sweat sessions and try new activities. I’m not saying you have to hit the hotel gym twice a day. Who wants to spend your days there when you could be walking a white sand beach or doing laps around the Pantheon? No one! But you can schedule in a morning run to take in the sights or perhaps even hit a nearby spin studio to exercise with the locals.
The doubling up part comes from doing something active such as family paddle boarding, kayaking, doing a walking tour of the city or playing a pick-up game of beach football. The key is to plan the go-to workout and incorporate the activity part into each day’s events. You got this.
3. Go prepared.
Bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours and airport delays can leave you justifying Munchkins and Big Macs. But, really, let’s be honest here, there’s no excuse. Skip the lame bag of chips and just say “no” to the value menu that will leave you unsatisfied, craving more and probably even with a stomachache.
Instead, go prepared with snacks that can bridge the gap between meals and even work together to form makeshift meals. Nuts, fruit, popcorn, bagged salmon, tuna and protein powder are a few ideas that can work on the road and will fit nicely into that mini fridge in your hotel room.
4. Drink properly.
Dehydration can leave you feeling lethargic, cranky and falsely hungry! In other words, hangry and tired, but really you’re just thirsty! So, pack that BPA-free water bottle and fill it, fill it and keep filling it. If you're active and in the sun, you really should be on top of your hydration game. Not only will your energy be up and you’ll be less likely to mistake hunger for thirst, but your metabolism and your body’s ability to break down fat stores may be maximized when you’re happily hydrated.
5. Downplay dessert.
Don’t get me wrong, vacation is definitely a time to indulge — in a conscious manner. But that doesn’t mean you have to go hog wild. Coming home from vacation feeling bloated and tired isn’t really reaping those vacation benefits, now is it?
Decide ahead of time: one or two desserts for the week? Make sure to choose the occasion based on eating what you love. Don’t waste calories on the carrot cake your sister ordered when you really love yellow cake with chocolate frosting. Decide what your conscious indulgence will be and eat it one or two times in an empowered way. I promise that one day, dessert may even help you lose weight.