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Staying Active on Vacation

Posted: July 18, 2012
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Summertime is vacation time — and vacations are an easy time to forget about the hard work you’ve put in and the healthy habits you’ve picked up at Farmgirlfit.

But you’re starting to rethink fitness, so vacations might look a little different this summer. We picked the brains of the coaches at Farmgirlfit to see what their vacation schedules — and suitcases — look like this season for some pointers on how to unwind the right ways.

Fitness is Vacation

“Whenever I go on vacation I think of ways to be active while I'm there. It might sound crazy to some, but I think it should be second nature — referring back to our motto of not thinking of exercise or activity as a punishment or a chore, but more of a way of life,” Jenni Niemann says. “Being active is a great way to experience a new place: jogging through the town, hiking the hills, running on the beach, biking the surrounding paths. There are always ways to stay active and fight the extra calorie and fat intake that is inevitable on vacation.”

On a trip to Greece with their husbands, she and Jaunessa Walsh ran the famous donkey trails of Santorini instead of riding donkeys. “We may have stood out in Santorini (a place mostly known for its uber relaxing environment where reaching for your poolside beverage is the biggest movement of the day) but to us it was important to feel our blood pumping and workout to enjoy the rest of the day.”

Liz Regalado did lots of research before taking off on her honeymoon to Puerto Morelos, Mexico. She and her husband, Eric, knew that the hotel gym wouldn’t be as big as they would have liked, but that they could get exercise based on other activities offered by the hotel and what surrounded the hotel.

“We vowed to run or walk the beach every day,” she says. “Our hotel had its own events: sea-kayaking, snorkeling, morning salsa dance classes, and water aerobics.” And they spent the rest of their time walking to various cities and ancient sites.

Vacation can be a great time to get in fitness activities that everyone in the family can enjoy. So maybe not everyone wants to run, but perhaps there’s swimming, hiking, biking, kayaking, surfing, horseback riding, or beach volleyball.

“Hiking is an awesome way to include your whole family on vacation,” Jenni says. “See who can make it to the top of a hill the fastest. Or, you can run up the hill together such that the last person in a single file line has to hustle to the front of the line, the new last person in line follows suit, and so on, until you reach the top.”

Jenni and Jaunessa recall a trip to Sonoma for wine tasting when they rented tandem bikes to ride between vineyards — which served as interval training through the day “and made the wine taste THAT much better,” Jenni says. But getting good exercise can be even simpler than that: “Some vacations we've taken specifically to be active (usually skiing in the winter) but just about every vacation destination affords the opportunity to stay active, even if it's not the specific purpose of the trip,” Jaunessa adds. “As a general rule, we try to walk as much as possible, rather than use other modes of transportation, for sightseeing, and just getting around.”

“Push past your comfort zone and try some new things!” Liz says. “You are in a new place!”

Packing for Vacation

When you’re trying to pack to get through international security in a timely fashion, or accommodate a car full of kids, it might not make sense to bring an entire gym’s worth of equipment with you.

Turns out, you don’t need a bunch of stuff to get great vacation workouts.

“Truthfully, though, you really don't need any ‘equipment’ to get a great workout. Don't ever underestimate body weight movements: push-ups, squats, sit-ups, oblique twists, plank holds, mountain climbers, lunges...” Jaunessa lists, “If you can find a nearby playground, you may even be able to do some box jumps/step-ups, jumping pull-ups, or dips.” If your vacation is near the water, swimming is a great form of exercise that only requires the swimsuit that you already packed.

A jump rope and a pair of lightweight shoes fit into any suitcase or carry-on purse, and can help you get in a workout just about anywhere.

“If you're driving somewhere and want a little extra motivation: pack a few kettlebells. If they're in the car taking up space, I'm sure you'll use them!” Jenni says. “They are extremely versatile: swings, 2 part swings, Turkish get-ups, goblet squats, clean and press, farmer's carry deadlifts ... and the list goes on. They are great for offering some resistance and getting your heart rate up.”

Have Fun and Indulge … Within Reason

It’s easy to get carried away with ice cream cones and sugary poolside drinks on vacation — and a little of that is OK. “It’s inevitable that you’ll indulge,” Jenni says. “It just comes with the whole idea of vacation sometimes.”

But there are ways to eat that won’t completely bust your workout plan when vacation is over.

“You don't want to completely forget your good eating habits,” Jaunessa says, “but finding healthful food tends to be less convenient away from home, plus you're on vacation after all, so give yourself a little leeway.”

Liz says all-inclusive resorts are great — but can easily lend themselves to getting carried away. “Don't eat all-inclusive meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner while having three courses each time,” she says. Instead, try eating a light, healthy breakfast and lunch one day, but not worrying about what you eat for dinner. If you want to enjoy a later, longer brunch think about having a sensible dinner.

“Take advantage of the unique cuisine. Many other cities or countries have unique fruits, vegetables, or meat dishes to that area,” she says. “They may use all natural ingredients that are unprocessed.” If you are on vacation near the sea, for instance, try the local seafood. Or, if it’s possible to stay in a location — like a vacation home or a hotel room with a kitchen — where you can cook for yourself, this can help you eat more normally and with less of an inclination to indulge. Packing snacks can help curb the urge to indulge in high-calorie daytime snacks.

Another thing to watch out for on vacation: booze.

“The alcohol intake on vacations can be your diet buster,” Liz says. “Don't let it be! Avoid those high calorie and high sugar piña coladas or blended margaritas with hardly any alcohol! Instead order light beers, NorCal margaritas, or wine. You can still have fun on vacation, by trying new things, and when you return to daily life you won't feel behind in your Farmgirlfit workouts.”

For a few vacation-ready workouts put together by our coaches, Click Here.

What do you do to stay active on vacation?


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