Staying Healthy on Vacation

Bad habits are like a comfortable bed. Easy to get into, but hard to get out of.
— Anon

I try my best to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I workout almost every day. I cook for myself so that I can eat healthy meals. I don't quite get the recommend 8 hours of sleep each night, but I try. It may sound simple, and to an extent it is, but it certainly wasn't easy. Building up that healthy lifestyle has taken a lot of effort, and, unfortunately I've found that it takes much less effort to fall out of these good habits. If I slip up and miss a workout, I tend to miss multiple. When I grab fast food for dinner because I couldn't make time to cook, I tend to eat worse for the rest of that week (if not longer).

So if the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is being diligent, and refusing to fall back into our past bad habits, what are we to do when we take a vacation? Finally, we've earned a break in the monotony of day to day life. A respite from the 9-to-5 grind. Some well needed R&R. Have we also earned a break from our healthy lifestyle? Or would indulging in desserts and skipping workouts erode the healthy habits we've worked so hard to build?

I won't go so far as to say that you should stick with the same rigor that you would apply to your meals and your workouts at home, but I am a firm believer that you should still try to be mindful of your health while vacationing. There are a lot of ways to go about this. If I'm taking a trip with my mom (who I inherited my work-out genes from), we tend to wake up before the rest of our family and sneak a workout in. She'll do her pilates while I make use of my travel yoga-mat to get some solo practice in.

But that isn't going to be the focus of this blog post. Instead, I want to talk about subtler ways that you can maintain a healthy lifestyle while on vacation - no workouts required. Since I recently spent the weekend in San Diego, I'll be using that trip as the backdrop for my advice.

Tip 1: Share Food to Indulge in Moderation

When I arrived Friday night, the first item on our agenda was dinner. We had picked out a nice restaurant that sat on the water, looking back at the city. There were too many enticing options to chose from, and I personally like to indulge a little when it comes to food on vacation. How was I supposed to pick just one?

Fortunately, my girlfriend was facing a similar dilemma, which provided us with an easy solution. We'd pick two of the choices that had ended up on both of our short lists, and get to try twice as many new dishes while still eating an appropriate portion of food. This quickly became the norm throughout the weekend. 

While you still have to be somewhat judicious in your choices, after all, sharing two unhealthy plates is still not a healthy meal, this approach provides you a wider variety of options. We were able to try some of the sweeter breakfast options and the more decadent meals by splitting these choices with a healthier option (that was usually quite tasty as well).

This compromise serves two purposes. The first, and more obvious, is that you are eating healthier than if you simply indulged at each meal and got yourself the more enticing, but less healthy option. More importantly, it forces you to still be conscious about what you are choosing to eat. Even if only half of your meal is healthy, you are making an active effort to pick out that healthy half of your meal, which will make it easier to go back to picking out the healthy option once you return home. 

For me, getting to enjoy new foods is a big perk of vacation. By sharing my meals with someone else, I'm able to keep up my habit of selecting healthy food to eat, even if I'm only applying that habit to half of my plate. As for the other half of my plate, well, that's where the second piece of advice comes in handy...

Tip 2: Walk to See the Sights

Walking can burn a surprising amount of calories. More than enough to offset the less healthy half of your meals throughout a vacation. Although, again, for me this is more about keeping up my healthy habits than making sure I maintain the same calorie in/out count that I would at home. 

When you travel, you are likely going somewhere you haven't been before, which means you should have a fairly extensive list of attractions you want to see. Rather than spend half of your trip in the car, zipping to and fro, frantically searching for parking in an unfamiliar city (not there! that's a tow-away zone; nope not there either! that meter only takes quarters, and has a 30 minute max), see if you can maximize the amount of travel you do on foot. 

Friday night we went for a stroll along the harbor. We got to see parts of the city we would have otherwise missed, and I got my workout in for the day, even if it wasn't very strenuous. Saturday we really kicked things up a notch. We started our day at the zoo. The San Diego Zoo is really an incredible sight, and I highly recommend it, but definitely wear comfortable shoes! Your feet will thank you at the end of the day.

While we had to drive to the zoo, once we finished there we ditched the car, and got around on foot for the rest of the day. We walked from the hotel to lunch, where we split some amazing food-truck style street tacos at a fantastic restaurant. Then from lunch to the USS Midway, where we took a walking tour of the battleship. From there we walked further down the docks to the departure point for our sunset pre-dinner cruise. Once we were done for the day, we traced our steps back to the hotel.

When it was all said and done we had walked nearly 10 miles and burned a whopping 1,000 calories. Depending on what type of work out you typically do at home, that's easily as many, if not more, calories you would have burned (assuming ~1 hour). Plus, you were sight-seeing and enjoying vacation the whole time!

We wrapped up our vacation Sunday morning by exploring some of the beaches north of the city. When we first arrived at the beach it was chaos! Constant swarms of people, cars everywhere. The only way we were going to get a parking spot is if we lucked out and happened to drive up as someone was leaving their spot. Not our idea of fun.

So instead we drove a few blocks away from the beach access, had our pick of nearly empty street parking, and get to walk a little further than originally planned. As an added bonus, the spot where we entered the beach was almost deserted - it was like being on a private resort! By the time we walked down to the congested area we first arrived at, we decided we liked the peace and quite better than the massive crowds, so we turned around and head back to the car - enjoying the more secluded stretches of beach that we had found along the way for a second time. 

That's all I have for now, but keep scrolling down for some photos from our amazing weekend. Next time you go on vacation, take the time to think about what habits play the biggest role in your healthy lifestyle, and how you could take the time to incorporate those habits (even if it is to a lesser degree) while enjoying your trip. Feel free to share in the comments!