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How to Keep Your Summer Vacations Healthy

June 30, 2014
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A commitment to a healthy lifestyle requires staying committed while you’re on vacation. This in not to say you must give up days by the pool and nights out at fancy restaurants, but rather that there’s no reason to undo all your healthy choices in a week or two. Instead of an all-or-nothing method in which you barely move and eat until you’re stuffed, try a balanced approach.

Taking a balanced, healthy vacation means you’ll enjoy all the relaxing benefits of your chosen destination while not being completely sedentary. You can and should plan for a few lazy afternoons, if that’s how you want to relax, but you don’t have to give all day, every day to that pursuit. Indeed, if you’re a little more mindful of your health during vacation, you’ll discover opportunities to learn and explore, and find that it’s easier to jump back into your fitness routine when you get home.

Find Local Activities to Enjoy

The key term here is active. Instead of spending your days lazily, look into movement-oriented options near your destination. Places near mountain ranges or nature preserves often have plenty of hiking trails. If you’re going abroad, many locations in Central America and Europe have an abundance of architectural ruins you can explore while learning about local culture. If there’s an activity you like at home, such as golfing or rock climbing, check around your destination city for local options.

Activities like these are best done in the morning, before the heat of the day becomes too much to bear. If you make your morning an active one, you can cool off at a pool or beach in the afternoon. When you head to the beach or pool, take along a beach ball or a Frisbee just in case the mood strikes to move around a bit. Since you’re minding your health this vacation, make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen for all members of the family.

Get Around by Bike or on Foot

If you plan on sightseeing, try to avoid motorized transportation. This may not always be possible, depending on how near or far your hotel is to where you’re going, but check for walkability every time. Walking is great for getting activity in, but it’s also a great way to see more because it forces you to slow down, allowing you to take in more of your surroundings. If you’d like a guided walking tour, they’re available in many cities around the globe.

If you have a little more ground to cover in your exploration plans, you can rent a bike fairly cheaply. Thanks to CitiBike and its competitors, bicycle rental stations are popping up all over, even in smaller cities. You can usually rent by the hour, day or week with a small deposit. Biking around town is a great way to burn calories while seeing a ton in your host city and spending quality time with your family, your friends or just yourself.

Don’t Skip Out on Produce or Water

There are a few tricks you can use to ensure your eating habits don’t go off the rails. Since most splurging happens at night, fill up during the day on healthy, satiating vegetables and delicious local fruit. These will keep you full and satisfied longer so you’ll eat less later on. If you’re willing to prep a little, you can save money by going to a local farmers market for snacks, or you can just order vegetable-rich entrees in the daytime.

It will also be important to drink plenty of water during the day, especially if you’re going somewhere hot. In addition to hydrating and keeping you cool, drinking lots of water will also help you eat less junk. That’s because thirst often masquerades as hunger, leading to overeating, especially when you’re dehydrated. Water also minimizes the effects of salty foods and cocktails, should you choose to enjoy them.

Splurge Mindfully

No vacation is complete without a little rule-breaking, and sometimes not fulfilling a craving is worse than enjoying it in moderation. Being mindful of your off-the-program food choices will allow you to enjoy what you please without feeling like you’ve overdone it. So, you can order the delectable entrée you really want, but don’t gobble it all down like it’s the last time you’ll ever eat something rich.

When you order something unhealthy, choose an option you’ll really enjoy. When the food comes, take in its smells and appearance before eating, then start slow. The first few bites of a meal are the most important, so take your time to enjoy all the flavors and textures. By slowing down to concentrate on the taste of your meal, you’ll be more satisfied and probably eat less.

This goes for refreshing beers and fruity cocktails, too. Overeating is common while drinking, so if you drink during the day, take it slow so you’re not inebriated before dinner. This includes staying hydrated: Any time you’re drinking alcohol, you should be drinking water as well. In the evenings, match your beverage volume with water volume, and during a hot day try to double up on water.

This article was originally published on U.S. News.

Family on beach photo courtesy of Shutterstock.