With Spring Break coming soon, many people are planning a one or two-week escape to somewhere other than here. Most will be taking off to a tropical destination, while the rest are hitting the slopes to take advantage of the piles of new snow. Something I wonder is, how many will watch their fitness and their diet during the break?
It seems a bit finicky to be concerned about whether or not you maintain a fitness program during the break, but it’s not the one or two weeks that I’m concerned with. More importantly, the tendency to throw discipline and consistency out the window while on holidays contributes to a much greater likelihood of falling off the exercise wagon altogether, potentially taking months or years to get started again.
Being realistic, If you’re trading 8-hours at a sedentary desk job for long days on skis or a snowboard I’m not going to give you a hard time if you don’t get to the gym during your holiday. But, if you’re planning on racking up some serious hours by the pool, or at the beach, there should be a little extra time in there somewhere that you can exercise.
And remember, it doesn’t take a lot of extra time or effort to eat smaller portions of healthy food than it does to gorge on pizza, nachos, burgers and fries or fondue. By keeping an eye on the fuel you put into your body you’ll feel better and have more energy. This alone should be enough to help keep you on a healthier path during and after the break.
Following are a few strategies that can help you to maintain, or even improve, your health this Spring Break.
1- Keep walking. No matter where you vacation, take advantage of the opportunity to stay on your feet and keep moving. Walk the beach in the mornings, or take an evening stroll with the family through the ski village. The focus is on being more active than you are in your regular routine at home.
2- Plan your fuel. The timing of your days can often get twisted around when you get out of the work and school routines. The problem with this is that people end up skipping meals or eating large portions far too late at night. One of the best things you can do is to take a moment to plan the following day, deciding on a healthy breakfast for shortly after you rise, and eating balanced meals every 3-4 hours throughout the day, until bedtime.
3- Stretch it out. Even though you might not be opting for a strenuous athletic adventure this Spring Break, you’re likely to be doing different activities than you would at home. This means you’ll be using different muscles, which can feel stiff and sore afterward. To manage this, make time to stretch regularly and stay loose. Fortunately beach resorts have higher ambient temperatures, which are good for keeping the body limber. Ski resorts have hot-tubs everywhere, and there’s no better place to stretch out at the end of an active day.
4- Watch the snack foods. When you’re not in your daily routine of work and life it’s very easy to find yourself grabbing snacks throughout the day. Whether it’s a handful of nuts, a few chips, a piece of fruit or a glass of juice, snacking between meals adds unnecessary calories and compromises the digestive process.
5- Hydrate. When you’re skiing or beaching, it’s easy to get dehydrated. Personally I know I drink less water when I’m in cold climates, so I have to make a concentrated effort to bring water with me when I ski, and drink a big glass or two right at the end of the day. And there’s no doubt that the heat in tropical regions causes increased sweating and evaporation, quickly leading to dehydration.
6- Maintain your muscle. If you are someone that exercises regularly, the last thing you want to do is lose ground because of a vacation. A simple program of push-ups, chin-ups, squats, lunges, etc can give your entire body a stimulus to maintain muscle mass, which will help keep your joints strong and your metabolism elevated. Large resistance bands, sometimes knows as safety toners, can be a great training tool. They’re versatile and lightweight, allowing you to perform dozens of effective exercises.
7- Party in moderation. A surefire way to make sure you don’t keep fit over the break is to get into the beer or cocktails heavily on the first day. By avoiding the tendency to ‘let loose’ and drink too much, you’ll feel better and stay sharp. If you appreciate this and are prepared with a strategy before the holiday begins, you’re less likely to have a boozy Spring Break.
8- Have fun. Take advantage of free time to play hard and enjoy your health.
–Rob Williams is a kinesiologist, elite personal trainer and posture specialist. He has been practicing for 16 years and currently operates an exclusive private training studio Mixx Fitness Studio, with a team of 10 trainers, as well as a multi-disciplinary posture facility, Performance Posture Clinic. Rob is an accomplished writer and speaker in the fields of fitness, posture and nutrition, and can be contacted at Williams Health Group.