Sunday, July 15, 2012

Weight Loss Tips - Don't Let The Vacation Manage You, Manage The Vacation

Vacation! Great idea, unless you are trying to watch your weight.  Unfortunately, going on a nice relaxing retreat from the daily grind of modern life can easily lead to complacency in terms of food and exercise.  I mean, what the heck, most of us are already spending too much money on the experience and have adapted by casually saying "I will worry about it later".  Thus, the same becomes true of taking in and burning off calories..."I'm not going to worry about it right now - on vacation!"

But a wonderful break from reality, can quickly become a nightmare of realization if you come home with a bank account void of dollars and a body full of fat.  Trust me, you can gain 10 pounds really quick if you let your habits get out of whack.  And you certainly can't lose it as fast as you put it on.  So the trick is to avoid an extended situation where you are piling on the calories which leads to you know what...

The first step to avoiding a pound-heavy vacation is to plan it with food and exercise in mind.  I know, that sounds like you are taking the fun out of everything, but that's not necessarily true.  Fun on a vacation (or daily life for that matter) shouldn't revolve around food, but rather experiences.  Don't make every meal a gluttonous occasion by overeating.  Stick to the same amounts and types of food you eat at home!

Also keep in mind how quickly calories can add up over the day, even when taken in small doses.  If you a hearty breakfast to prepare for the day's activities, you have probably already brought in 800 calories or more. (See the calorie apps on this site for more info). Then a lunch on the go at a fast food restaurant for convenience adds another 600-1500 calories. Grab some snacks along the way, soft drinks, beer, whatever, and you easily chalk up another 500 calories or more.  And its not even dinnertime yet...

Because you are away from a controlled environment such as your home and work, you have limited choices when it comes to eating, especially if you are on a very rigid diet. That's one of the reasons I focused on portion control, more than specialized foods when I started my weight loss journey because the concept works everywhere.

Sooooo, you must find ways to burn off all those calories, which isn't likely to happen if you stay on that kind of consumption track.  Thus, you will have to focus on controlling that input as your first means of defense, followed by adequate calories burning activities that blend in with your vacation.

For example, if you are a golfer walk the courses instead of renting a cart, and keep a close eye on how much food and alcohol you consume.

If you like history and museums, choose a route that involves as much walking as possible, rather than driving from place-to-place.  Washington, DC is a great example.  There is a lot to see and when you take a first glance, the tendency is to drive.  But its really very walkable.  Same with New York City.

When we vacationed in Seattle, we drove a car into the city from our hotel in Redmond, then parked (and abandoned) it for the rest of the day, using our feet for transportation instead.

Another simple thing that you can do is stay on an upper floor in a hotel and take the stairs.  OK, 30 floors could be excessive, but I have no problem walking to the 10th floor and most people can easily handle 4 to 5 stories.

If you have a tendency to overeat, stay away from buffet meals or all-you-can-eat specials.  Cruises can be dangerous that way, as well as a lot of resorts.  You can't put your "blinders" on when you head out for vacation, unless you don't care about your weight.

I just got back from a great vacation at Carolina Beach, NC where we rented a house with another family.  Due to the number of people we were bringing it had to be pretty big, plus we wanted to be near the town center and have a dock for our boats.  We ended up with a house called King's Latitude which was four stories, plus had a deck on the roof which added another level.  The importance of this is that there was NOT an elevator, which meant lots of steps and lots of opportunity for burning off calories.  And since I am the guy who does all the daily walking, I suddenly became everyone's personal servant as they sought ways to avoid all those steps. 

It was interesting to see the attitudes about walking in general.  We had decided for simplicity that we would eat out every night instead of cooking.  So at mealtime on the first night I was ready to walk to a restaurant, only to discover that several of the others were ready to pile into cars.  "Hey guys, its only a couple of blocks no need to drive." They stared back at me with blank facial expressions, as the idea of walking a few blocks didn't go over to well.  I then pointed out that there were no parking spots anyway, so they could walk or drive in circles all night.  Eventually everyone got the idea that walking wasn't such a bad thing and the rest of the week, all involved pretty much stayed on their feet and left the car keys behind.

It should be noted that this was not a crowd of lazy overweight people, it just so happened that it was more of a mindset than anything else.  Why walk when you can drive.

Over the course of seven days, I ate a lot of restaurant food and countered it with a lot of walking, averaging 12 miles per day.  I had a great time and gained no weight.  And yes, I did come home with an empty wallet...

Weight management is all about long term lifestyle.  You have to choose methods that you can live with forever and apply every day, whether at home or on the road.  And vacation is no exception...

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