“I need to get in shape for a holiday”…
This is easily in the top 5 answers I’ve heard for why somebody wants to begin a training routine.
And as a short term goal, it’s awesome.
We won’t go into the need for longer, emotionally driven goals right now (That’s been covered here).
Having a body you’re confident with, and feeling comfortable in your skin is a largely overlooked factor for a great time away; but I’m sure as a regular reader of the Luke Bremner Fitness Blog, I don’t need to yarn on about the mental benefits living a healthy lifestyle will have upon your wellbeing.
But after taking these clients from where they are, to where they want to be physically, I’m often greeted with the same statement upon their arrival home:
“I had a great time, awesome sunshine, but I feel a little…. bleh”.
That “Bleh”, upon closer examination, is most often in reference to lower energy, sleep quality, feeling bloated, or being under the impression they’ve put back on all the weight they’d lost over the previous 2 months in the space of a week.
The latter of course isn’t true- however if we can limit that negative “I’ve fallen off the wagon” mindset upon returning, the entire holiday experience will become even more positive than it already was.
So, let’s get into a few tried and tested way to ensure you’re bounding back into your training routine after returning from a trip, instead of dragging your feet and worrying about all your hard work being ruined (which will probably be 90% perception- but still a feeling it’s better we avoid!)
1- Make An Effort To Move!
Soaking up the sun is actually really good for you- mostly due to your body absorbing vitamin D from the rays (helpful in hormonal balance and immune function).
But soaking up the sun from rise to set, without moving further than the hotel bar?
That’s when we trickle out of beneficial, and towards detrimental- and not only because of the sunburn you’ll probably develop!
If you’ve ever spent a day doing nothing, you’ll have probably noticed a very surprising occurrence- you’ll feel exhausted at the end of the day.
It’s because energy literally creates energy- staying active and moving around promotes blood flow and has even been linked with improved cognitive function- so if you want to be ready with witty holiday banter come dinner time, it’s best to spend at least some of the day on your feet, instead of lying by the pool.
From a weight-loss perspective the repercussions of remaining sedentary are obvious- not all ‘exercise’ has to leave you puffing for air- something as simple as going for a walk to find a cafe, or having a swim in the morning are all going to contribute to your calories expended- therefore moving your energy balance further towards losing weight than gaining it.
So walk around and explore your new surroundings! Book a walking or bike tour, try out surfing, grab a kayak, or go for a hike. Movement is movement- the more you can get in, the healthier and happier you’ll be once you return to reality.
2- Try The Protein And Fat Breakfast
Now I’m not always a fan of dictating macro nutrient timings, or banning a food group- as it tends to lead to an imbalanced approach to eating.
But, that being said? There are merits to sticking with only protein and fats for breakfast, especially when in an environment where over-indulging later in the day isn’t entirely unlikely (nor should it be off-limits, you are on holiday after all!).
Sticking with protein and fat in the morning, and avoiding carbohydrates, helps keep blood sugar levels lower- which in turn can decrease energy peaks and troughs (leading to cravings) throughout the day.
Plus there’s the added benefit that protein and fats are both known to have higher satiety levels than high-carb meals, meaning you’ll stay fuller for longer.
Why are we just talking about what to eat at breakfast?
Because most often, it’s the easiest meal to control. You wake up, go to the hotel restaurant, out to a cafe, or cook up your own meal.
Later in the day (especially if you take action on your first point), it’s far more likely you’ll be out and about, and have less control over what’s available to you.
Starting your day right also tends to set you up with an early win, which will promote healthier choices as the day progresses.
Plus, let’s be real here- Eggs and Bacon? Steak? Smoked Salmon? Who wouldn’t love those meals for breakfast? And now you aren’t rushing out the door to get to work, or the kids to school, you can!
3- Manage Your Liquids
Liquid calories add up very fast- especially in a hot climate when the cocktails look so damn refreshing.
Now the chances are that you’d rather not have a booze-free break (or maybe you would- in which case this will still apply for milkshakes and sugar-filled fruit smoothies).
And honestly, you’re on holiday- and you’ve probably earned it.
If you’d like to relax in the sun- after having your carb-free breakfast and going for a walk, why can’t you enjoy a cold alcoholic beverage whilst soaking up the vitamin D? That’s what holidays are for, right?
Although remember earlier, when we were discussing the ‘bleh’ feeling people get upon returning from a break.
A large percentage of the time, that bloated, lethargic, step-in-the-wrong-direction is often due to mismanagement of liquid intake.
Let’s take a look at a 2 ‘rules’ that can offset this consequence:
1- Drink Lots Of Water
This is especially relevant in warmer climates, where you’ll become increasingly dehydrated because of the liquid you’ll lose via sweat.
Bring with you a water bottle, and keep it with you at all times- filling it up from the tap as often as you can (or buy bottled water if tap water is going to have… unpleasant consequences where you are).
Aim to drink at least 1 litre of water for every 25 kilos of bodyweight- and honestly in hotter climates it’s preferable to take that number up to 1.5 litres per 25 KG.
2- Try And Stick With Clear Spirits And Mixers
My holiday beverage of choice? A good quality gin, sparkling water and lime. Do I still drink a little too much? Yep, probably. But, do I feel less bloated, and have I consumed way fewer empty calories than if I’d stuck with beer all week? Absolutely.
Can you have a fancy cocktail now and again? Of course- hell you could have a fancy cocktail every hour you’re there if you wanted to; this blog post hasn’t been written to give you orders.
But, if you’d rather limit the damage the alcohol will inflict to you calorie wise? A clear spirit and low-calorie/sugar mixer is far superior from a health perspective (and from the hangover side- make sure you’re drinking water in between alcoholic drinks!).
So Should You Be Perfectly Behaved On Holiday?
Life isn’t all about losing fat and gaining muscle.
And honestly, a week away from the gym can be great for recovery if you’ve been pushing yourself hard in the build up to the trip.
Coupled with the vitamin D you’ll soak up in the sun, and the numerous health benefits of taking a mental break, and you should get back after your trip feeling better than ever.
But, if you are after a few tips to make sure you’re feeling good when you get back to the gym your first session back? Try and stick with the 3 holiday tricks- move around, eat a protein and fat breakfast, drink lots of water and avoid numerous beers and cocktails.
But most of all? Have fun!
We should all take time to switch off and recharge when we go on holiday. The last thing we need is to come back feeling stressed or guilty because we weren’t able to keep up with our usual health and fitness routine.
Here at Luke Bremner Fitness we specialise in working with busy professionals and business owners, so we understand the importance of really being able to relax when we do get time off, whilst remaining healthy and active where possible.
To find our more about our nutrition coaching, programmes and how we can help you achieve your goals, you can book in for your complimentary consultation.