5 Ways to Avoid Vacation Weight Gain

On this quest to be healthy, sometimes we can get wrapped up in all the the foods to avoid and forget to just live a little! I was certainly "living a little" (or a lot) on my trip to Sri Lanka. One of the best things about traveling is trying all the local foods. I usually follow a plant-based diet, focusing on lots of veggies, fruit, a bit of clean animal protein, and nuts/seeds while minimising gluten and dairy. In Sri Lanka, I was (loosely) adhering to my food philosophy but also experimenting a lot with the local fare. For example, I didn't hoe into the bread basket at dinner but I did eat the beautiful piece of coconut cake with cream served for dessert. Know what I mean? I'm not encouraging fully letting go of the reins on vacation and eating everything milky, gluten-y and sugary that comes your way, I'm merely opining that giving yourself more freedom (without the guilt!) is part of a healthy lifestyle. 

That said, no one wants to float home like a blimp after time away so here are some tips for weight maintenance while on holidays:

1. Move your butt every day 

 Doing some morning yoga at our guesthouse in Colombo

Doing some morning yoga at our guesthouse in Colombo

It's great to fall into relax mode on holidays but becoming a full on sloth is not. I'm all about taking it easy but spending your days lying around, eating and drinking is a recipe for not being able to button your jeans for the flight home. Avoid being totally sedentary by getting up each morning and doing something active, like yoga, walking/jogging, hiking, SUPing, swimming, etc before breakfast to fire up your metabolism for the rest of the day.  Then if you want to lie by the pool drinking piña coladas all afternoon, at least you've gotten a bit of cardio under your belt so you'll be burning calories while you sip. Not a wake-up-and-exercise kind of person? How about an afternoon yoga class or sunset walk before pre-dinner cocktails? Try just carving out half an hour each day to get your heart rate up and your blood pumping. You may even enjoy it (shock horror!) and continue past the half an hour mark. Cheers to that!

 

2. Practice the 80/20 rule

 Afternoon ice cream stop in Kandy

Afternoon ice cream stop in Kandy

Without a regular meal schedule or easy access to Whole Foods, we can find ourselves reaching for anything that's convenient (packaged food) or grazing all day long without thinking about what, or how much, we're eating. Setting an intention for healthy holiday eating and being mindful of what you put in your mouth will do wonders for how you feel during the trip and after you get back. Aim for 80% of the foods and drinks that pass your lips to be clean, nutritious and delicious - i.e. fresh fish, fruits, vegetables, salads, soups, water, coconut water, etc - and allow the remaining 20% to be indulgence - whatever that means for you, i.e. desserts, bread/butter, tropical cocktails, etc. There are different ways to follow this eating principle so it's just a matter of sorting out what works for you. Some people think of each meal in terms of 80/20, meaning filling your plate with 80% clean food and leaving a sliver of your plate open for something rich or sweet. Others look at all the foods they're eating across an entire day in terms of 80/20. For example, eat clean all day long so you can feel good about having that afternoon ice cream or evening cocktail. Alternatively, you could make the 80/20 rule apply to your week as a whole so that you eat clean six days and have one day to splurge. It's up to you what you think will be feasible for your lifestyle. Following this rule, you can maintain the pre-holiday bod you've been working so hard for without feeling deprived of indulging in local delicacies or holiday celebrations. Some people like to continue practicing the 80/20 rule outside of holiday time as a way of staying on track with their food choices and weight management efforts. 

 

3. Don't feel guilty 

 Green soup in Tangalle

Green soup in Tangalle

If you have a day or two in there where you really overdid it, the worst thing you can do is beat yourself up about it. A healthy lifestyle means focusing on what you do MOST of the time, not what you do some of the time. There are always going to be instances when you get a little carried away and polish off your dessert and that of your dining partner (Yes, that happened. Coconut cake - gets me every time!). When it does, don't throw your good intentions out the window and go on a guilt-ridden sugar-eating rampage. Instead, just view it as a splurge day and jump back on board the healthy train as soon as you can, i.e. have a green smoothie or a salad as your next meal. 

 

4. Catch up on your sleep

 Our bungalow - Little Tamarind - in Tangalle

Our bungalow - Little Tamarind - in Tangalle

Not getting enough sleep raises our body's levels of ghrelin, a hunger-boosting hormone, which can make you want to eat (particularly sweet and salty food) all day long. Holidays are the perfect time to clock some serious zzz's (no alarm - woo!) so aim for 7-9 hours a night. 

 

5. Ramp up your water intake

 Having some warm lime water first thing in the morning in Ella

Having some warm lime water first thing in the morning in Ella

I know this is a boring one because we hear it all the time but getting dehydrated is easy on holidays as we're out of our normal water-bottle-on-desk routine (thank goodness for that!). Hunger and thirst are easy to confuse and dehydration can make you think you're hungry when you're actually thirsty. Try to get eight cups in a day by carrying around a water bottle or having a cup or two before each meal. To liven up plain water, add a slice of lemon, lime, cucumber or a couple sprigs of mint. Or mix it up and have a coconut water!


Most of all have fun, relax, and don't stress!! Stress is one of the biggest weight saboteurs of all time! 


Until next time, 

Steph x 


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