Memorial Day weekend upon us, millions of Americans will take time to pause and remember, reflect, and pay tribute to the many brave Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice defending our great nation, preserving the freedoms that we hold dear, but so often take for granted.
Memorial Day also represents the unofficial start of the summer season, when we shift into that warmer weather state of mind. Time for cookouts, bike rides, ball games, and summer vacation planning.
That last one in particular can cause some summer anxiety for those on the quest for health, fitness and weight management. I’ve heard many Koko members over the years lament about the weight they know they will gain as they head off on vacation.
Eating too many vacation calories, while getting off the exercise routine, can easily set you back, even in as little as a week. But vacation doesn’t have to be an unhealthy experience. When you embrace the fitness life, you don’t ever need to take a vacation from it. And you shouldn’t.
For you fit-lifers out there that are looking to get away over the summer months without derailing your progress, I thought I’d share some tips to help avoid the vacation traps of over-indulging and under-exerting.
- Holiday Hold ‘Em: We run a challenge in our clubs during the holiday season that we call the Holiday Hold ‘Em. The idea is that any holiday season should not a time to try losing weight. So if that’s your goal, put it on hold for a few weeks, enjoy the holiday, but work to make sure that you hold your weight consistent. The same approach works for your vacation. You want to enjoy yourself, so live a little. But focus on maintaining your current weight so that when you get back to your regular schedule, you can pick up right where you left off. No harm done.
- Start with a plan. Think about your health when you plan your trip. I like to plan trips where the vacation is really built around staying active. Exploring new places by hiking, walking, kayaking, etc. Find a place to go where you can find some physical activities that you – and your companions/family — will enjoy.
- Try something new. Vacations are a great time to try new things, right? Hey, you’ve been working hard in the gym all winter not just to look good. Give your fit body a new physical challenge. If you’re not a hiker, start with a guided hike. Or, try getting way outside your comfort zone with something like rock climbing or zip-lining. Take a bike tour. Try a favorite of mine, stand-up paddle boarding. Work in a little adventure!
- Fuel yourself properly. There is a difference between eating for pure enjoyment and fueling yourself for function. Enjoy the local flavors, but consider some of your meals as fuel for those new adventures you’ll be tackling. If you’re well-fueled, you’ll have more energy to enjoy each activity even more. If you’re a Koko member, just bring along a copy of your Koko Fuel plan, or use your smartphone to check it on MyKoko. Eating the right type of food in proper quantities will help you feel your best all vacation long.
- Allow yourself, one over-indulgence per day. Hey it’s vacation, live a little. But you can get into trouble when you overdo it for 3 meals a day. Your total calorie intake can go through the roof. So pick which meal you’re most excited about, and keep your others more sensible so that you can enjoy that splurge without any guilt.
- Look out for liquid calories! Nothing says vacation more than sitting by the pool and sipping a pina colada. Been there, done that, and it’s amazing. But I think twice now that I know that a pina colada typically contains over 600 calories, 17 grams of fat, and 60 grams of carbs — the simple sugary type that lead to an insulin spike which stores those calories as fat. Yuck. When you do have a cocktail, try sticking to clear drinks without added sugar. Like vodka tonic with a little fresh lime juice. Not exactly healthy, but certainly lower calorie than those sugar-loaded frozen drinks.
- Hydrate! Summer means warmer weather, and being more active in higher temps can mean greater risk of hydration. Drink lots of water on vacation, even when you are lounging about, to keep you hydrated and help your body process those extra calories more efficiently.
Most importantly, have fun. Enjoy yourself. You’ve earned it. The gym will still be there when you come back. Just make sure you find your way back there quickly, get back on track and keep up the exercise habit.
Michael Wood, CSCS
Chief Fitness Officer, Koko FitClub
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About Michael Wood, Chief Fitness Officer
Michael Wood, CSCS, is Chief Fitness Officer at Koko FitClub, driving the development of integrated strength and cardio training and nutrition programs for Koko members nationwide. A nationally acclaimed fitness expert, Michael has conducted research as a Senior Exercise Physiologist at the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, and has lectured at Boston University and the University of Connecticut. He has been named Boston Magazine’s “Best of Boston” Personal Trainer, and made the Men’s Journal “Dream Team” list of the nine best trainers in the U.S. Michael and his family live in North Attleboro, MA.