1 April 2008

How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

Is it possible to stay fit on the move?

Lots of people finally get into a fitness routine only to then get knocked off course when their routine is interrupted by a holiday or business trip.

This doesn’t need to happen. There’s no need to lose the rhythm with all your good intentions, just because you’re not in your normal environment. All you need to stay on track is a bit of planning. Here are the top 3 complaints I hear, and my suggestions:

1. I travel lots and it’s just not possible to eat healthy airline food.
This may once have been the case but it just isn’t true these days. Airlines have to cater for everyone and most offer vegetarian, kosher, low carb, low salt, low cholesterol, wheat free or dairy free options, as well as covering a variety of special dietary requirements. You just need to book your requested meal in advance, preferably when booking your flights. And remember, you don’t need to be a vegetarian to go for the vegetarian option. (Trust me - they don't check!) If you need to be focused for work at the end of your trip, order the meal that is best suited to either helping you sleep or helping you stay awake on your journey, depending on the distance you’re travelling and the time zones you’ll be crossing. Boring I know, but don't go crazy with the free alcohol on the flight. Water, water, and more water is what you need in the air.

The same principles apply to healthy hotel eating. Just because there’s a buffet at breakfast, it doesn’t mean you need to try to eat it all. Be selective, continue to eat what you know works for you at home and take advantage of the fact that someone else is preparing produce that you wouldn’t think of at home...a whole platter of fruit all ready for you? Don't just go for the cooked breakfast 'just because I'm in a hotel and it's a one off'.

2. Traveling disrupts my routine.
It is true that travelling can be disruptive so make sure that you have a routine that works for you when you’re on the go. Tackling life with just one single routine is a limited approach to life so get flexible. Have different routines and strategies for work and home life, weekdays and weekends. You need to recognise what your weaknesses are (room service hamburger - bloody mary(s) on the plane -McDonald breakfast at the airport) - and avoid them where you can in favour of healthier alternatives. Remember, you are allowed to continue eating as well as you do at home.

3. The hotels I visit don’t have gyms
You might not be able to keep up with your full routine while you’re away so instead see the change of scene as an opportunity to try something new. Go for a swim or a run, or even rent a bike. On a recent holiday I found a local park that had a route to run round the outside, a hill and some steps for interval training and a dedicated exercise area where it was really easy to put together a tough total body workout in surroundings more beautiful than I have access to at home.

Being away from home for a period doesn't have to be an excuse to eat junk and slob out. Instead, think of it as a great excuse to try new stuff. I rarely get to swim but on holiday, you can't get me out of the pool - I turn into the Man from Atlantis! Embrace the change and think of all the new and exciting ways you can try to stay on track.

Photograph by Trinity (Flickr)

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