Going on vacation? Don’t leave your fitness at home

Follow Tanja Shaw's five simple rules to enjoy your vacation and stay in great shape.

By sticking to your workouts

As I write this article, I am enjoying a cup of coffee on the patio of my home for the last 10 days: a vacation condo in Kauai, overlooking the ocean. Like most people, I love going away on vacations. Whether it’s relaxing at a beach, visiting relatives, backpacking across a foreign country, or camping in the interior, vacations are a welcomed break from regular routine.  You may be wondering, however, whether a break will derail your diet plan or undo all your hard work at the gym.  With a bit of planning, you don’t have to choose between staying slim and enjoying your holidays; you can have it all.   Follow these five simple rules to enjoy your vacation and stay in great shape.

1. Remember your ‘WHY’.

Before I get into the details about keeping fit on vacation, remind yourself WHY you want to keep in shape.  Do your exercises each day because you want to take good care of yourself, and you want to be energized for the rest of the day.  Eat well because you want to fuel your body with life giving, nourishing foods.   Take care of yourself because you are worth it.

2. Devote 30 minutes a day to exercise at least five days a week.

Thirty minutes is just over 3 per cent of the 16 waking hours of your day.  It’s a small part of your day, but the return on your investment is big. Go for a brisk walk or run to explore the local streets (if safe), or do an equipment-free workout at the beach or in your hotel room.   Simple body weight exercises include push-ups, squats, planks, lunges, and hip bridges. If you’re up for a more intense workout, include plyometric exercises such as squat jumps and burpees.  At the end of this article I have included an equipment-free workout that I did one morning in Kauai.

Commit to a workout plan before you leave so you can avoid making the ‘should I workout, or should I skip it?’ when on vacation.  Remember that you workout because you love your body, you want to take good care of your body and you’ll feel great for the rest of the day.

3. Eat like the locals.

Food is a part of experiencing the culture of your vacation destination; don’t waste your calories by mindlessly snacking on a bag of Cheezies.  Experience the cuisine of the area by shopping at fresh markets, trying the local produce and tasting the area’s ‘specialties’ when dining out.  Vacationing doesn’t mean you should eat more than usual- feeling full and bloated is not a fun way to spend your holiday.  Instead, listen to your hunger cues and be mindful of what you eat.  Slow down at mealtime, and enjoy the local delicacies with gusto.

4. Mind your beverages.

If alcohol is a part of your vacation enjoyment, choose wisely.  Fruity tropical drinks such as Mai Tais and Margaritas can add 300-600 calories to your daily intake; and that’s if you limit yourself to one drink!  Beer, wine or liquor with a low calorie mixer (such as vodka and soda water) are your slimmest options at 70-150 calories a drink.

5. Play like a child.

Children are naturals at playing and exploring- they rarely stop moving.  Learn from the young folk to keep active during the day. The opportunities to ‘play’ on vacation are endless.   You may play a round of golf, go snorkeling, or book a mountain bike tour. Simply swimming in the pool, walking to explore your new surroundings, or playing a game of Frisbee on the grass are fun ways to stay active.

By sticking to your workouts, and being mindful of what you eat, you can stay fit and slim while truly enjoying your vacation.


Tanja’s Hawaiian Workout

10 minute warm up run (or power walk)

I set my interval timer for 40 seconds on, 10 seconds rest.  I did each mini circuit 3 times.

Circuit 1:

1. Burpees (I attempted a burpee with a tuck jump but only lasted half a round- it was hot!)

2. In & Out + Push-up: In push up position, jump feet in toward hands, then jump feet back out to push up position.  Perform one push-up and repeat.

3. Mountain climbers: In push up position, bring one knee toward chest.  Jump and switch feet.  Think ‘floor sprints’.

Circuit 2:

1. Lunge Jumps: Get into lunge position.  Jump to switch legs and repeat.

2. In & Outs: As above but with no push ups.

3. Bicycle crunches: the old fashioned ab- burner.

Circuit 3:

1. 3 squat jumps forward, sprint back to start (and repeat)

2. Side lunges with a shuffle: Alternating right and left side.

3. Travelling plank: Push-up position.  Walk hands and feet to the right 3-4 steps, then travel to the left 3-4 steps.  Repeat.


Tanja Shaw is a healthy-eating enthusiast, Rotarian, passionate entrepreneur, mom, runner, and owner of Ascend Fitness Inc. Tanja and her team of expert fitness coaches inspire and educate Chilliwack residents to make positive and power changes in their lives through physical fitness and sound nutrition.  Visit Ascend Fitness Inc. at www.ascendfitnesscoaching.com.

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