Smashed fitness goals out the back but worried your holiday will undo all your hard work? Don’t worry, I have you covered.
Summertime is finally here, which means you’re about to cash in on all the hard work you put in at the gym during spring. Finally.
You’ve dieted, spent endless hours working out and you look and feel better than ever before. Your weight loss results are sweet.
You’re ready to jet off and spend a week or two in all-inclusive heaven, relaxing by the pool, soaking up the sun and enjoying the fruits of your labour.
The trouble is, holidays usually involve stodgy meals, desserts, beers and cocktails – not fruit. And this can mean coming home with a few unwanted pounds if you’re not too careful.
Fitness and health, however, should always be looked at as a lifestyle and not just an 8-week period before a holiday.
So, even with a little over indulgence, following these 8 easy and simple tips should have you arriving home looking and feeling just as good as when you left. Let’s get into it.
Part 1: What to eat on holiday
Of course, food and drink is a major factor of an unforgettable holiday experience and it can be a big reason for visiting certain countries. After all, nobody does pizza and ice cream like the Italians or beer like the Germans or beef burgers and apple pie like the Americans.
Nom, nom, nom, nom.
But we want to be able to enjoy these foods without returning home with a waistline twice the size. Surely there’s a way to maintain your weight loss AND enjoy new foods on holiday?!
Yes, there is.
With that in mind, here are my four tips (of eight in this article) for enjoying all the food and drink you desire, without having to worry about needing two seats on the plane home.
1. Be aware of “may as well” foods
These are foods you would never really consider having at home but, because you are on holiday and they are there for the taking, you’ll happily load them onto your plate – “may as well.”
These usually include (but are not limited to):
- Foreign sweets/chocolates/crisps
- Weird cheeses
- Something unrecognisable – but you take it anyway. May as well.
Adding these foods to your plate for no other reason than because you can is a sure-fire way of unnecessarily bumping up your overall calorie intake.
Now, I do believe you should try and sample the local cuisine but remember you have a full week, at least, to try and sample all the foods you fancy. So there’s no need to pile them sky high onto your plate on day one.
Before putting any food on your plate walk around the buffet and see what really takes your fancy, choose 3-5 of them and stick with these for your meal. This will help avoid the infamous ‘buffet mountain’ and will help leave some calories spare for dessert.
2. Limit the booze
All-inclusive drinks are a god-send to bank accounts around the world – but sadly not for waistlines.
It can be easy to get carried away when you have beer, wine and cocktails literally on tap and, whilst drinking can be a fun and relaxing part of your holiday, it’s a good idea to control your intake, helping to maintain your awesome weight loss results.
Think about using one of the guidelines below:
1. Limit yourself to one drink per hour. This might not seem like much but, by the end of the day, this could easily add up to around 10 or so drinks. Enough to make anyone more than a little tipsy.
2. Stay off the booze until 3pm (or later). As a general rule, the longer you wait until your first drink, the less you’re likely to drink overall in the day.
3. Set yourself a (sensible) drink limit. Giving yourself a maximum number of drinks to have will help keep your alcohol intake in check whilst freeing up when and how often you can drink.
Doing one of the above will still mean you can enjoy a bit of booze in the sun without being overly restrictive.
On top of this, to help save calories even further, opt for the lower calorie option drinks. Choosing drinks like spirits and sugar-free mixers, over wines and beers, can end up saving you hundreds of calories by the end of the day.
3. Stay hydrated (this one’s crucial)
Your body likes to be at a certain temperature – 37 degrees Celsius – all of the time.
And your body is going to do its best to keep you at this temperature, which means you’re going sweat a lot more than usual in hot countries, even more so if you are out on a walk and being active.
Obviously, all this sweating means greater water loss than usual, so you need to make sure you replace this throughout the day by drinking lots of fluid.
It doesn’t just have to be water. Teas, coffees, juices, even fruits like watermelons and peaches can all help you stay hydrated in the sun. Carrying a bottle of water with you though, that can be refilled and sipped on throughout the day, is always going to be a smart idea.
Also, remember alcohol will increase your chance of dehydration because it’s a diuretic, so make sure you’re drinking plenty of water throughout the day if you’re on the beers.
Neglecting your body’s need for water can lead to tiredness, lack of energy, muscle cramps and an upset tummy – not want you want on a relaxing holiday.
4. Intermittent (holiday) fasting
Intermittent fasting is a diet that requires you not to eat for set periods of time, to help aid weight loss.
This can be easily and effectively adopted into your holiday just by skipping out on breakfast or lunch. It’s a simple way to keep your daily calories in check for the day, without having to be overly restrictive.
If you don’t think you can go without either meal, then choose a light breakfast or lunch, like fresh fruit and yogurt or a cold meat salad.
This will also help save you calories, meaning you can eat and enjoy more food and drink for dinner, which is handy as it tends to be the biggest and most social meal of the day.
Part 2: Training on holiday
We all know the feeling before a training session: the buzz of your pre-workout is starting to kick in, your go to gym playlist is ready to fire you up, you’re feeling motivated and ready to smash out your workout.
Until you walk through the hotel gym doors that is and realise it’s nothing more than a large cupboard with little more than a few small dumbbells.
Then there’s the multi-gym machine with missing handles and a rusty chain, whilst a dusty old treadmill lurks in the corner. Eurgh.
Okay, so maybe hotel gyms aren’t that bad but, let’s be honest, they are notorious for being sub-optimal when it comes to getting in a decent workout. They make it near on impossible to stick to a programme, so when you train on holiday it’s really all about making the best out of a bad situation.
Of course, you can always ditch the standard gym workout altogether and find other ways to keep your activity and calorie burning levels up.
Bodyweight circuits in your room or on the beach (or use a resistance band if you can take one with you) can make for a great fat burning workout in as little as 20 minutes.
Ultimately, what you’re looking to achieve whilst on holiday is being able to keep on top of your training and activity levels whilst away so that you don’t lose all the progress you made leading up to going away, whether that’s in the gym or not.
So here are my top four tips (the second lot) for how to do just that:
1. Walk as much as possible, and then walk some more
Although lounging by the pool all day is great, one of the best and simplest ways to keep your weight under control on holiday is to keep your step count high.
Getting out and exploring local towns and villages or going on evening walks across the beach to watch the sunset are both great ways to increase your calorie burn.
Doing these things will get your steps in without feeling like you’re having to exercise on holiday. Result.
If you’re feeling particularly active whilst away, then swimming and running are also great cardio options. Try swimming lengths in the hotel pool or go for a dip in the sea for extra resistance against the waves. If running is your thing, hit the beaches for an extra calorie boost – it’s more challenging than running on the road thanks to the uneven and moving surface of the sand.
2. Train to maintain
When training on holiday it’s important to realise that you’re unlikely to be breaking any PB’s – and you shouldn’t be trying to either. The goal and purpose of your workouts should only be to keep things in check and ticking over whilst you’re away.
Hotel gyms are never the best equipped neither do they have the heaviest weights, so training for “the pump” is actually going to be your best bet – get blood pumping into the muscles and work up a sweat.
Choose a varied selection of 5-6 exercises and perform 2-3 sets for each, hitting the 10-15 rep ranges.
3. Full body workouts for the win
I don’t care how much you enjoy working out, when you’re on holiday you don’t want to be stuck indoors for hours on end whilst the sun is beaming down.
This is where full body workouts come into their own as they allow you to hit all the major muscle groups in a short space of time, especially if you use techniques like supersets or Tabata’s to your advantage.
Not only will you spend less time in the gym but using full body workouts will help boost your calorie expenditure to the max, compared to training a single muscle group.
Here’s a superset (ss) workout example to get you started:
A) Dumbbell (DB) front squats ss w/ jump squats: 3 sets x 10 reps x 12 reps
B) DB shoulder press ss w/ DB row: 3 sets x 12 reps x 12 reps
C) Press-ups ss w/ leg extensions: 4 sets x 15 reps x 15 reps
D) Sit-ups ss w/ DB bicep curls: 2 sets x 15 reps x 15 reps
Enjoy your training
Being fully motivated to go and train will be hard enough when you know there’s a creamy Pina Colada waiting for you poolside. So, to ensure you actually turn up to your workout, you need to plan one that excites you.
This could simply be lifting weights in the gym, a HIIT/LISS cardio session or a mixture of the two with a Metcon.
Whatever it may be, make sure it’s something that you want to go and do, even when you have the tempting thought of sipping on that delicious cocktail. You can do it, you proved that when you smashed your weight loss transformation, remember?
Now, when you go on holiday it would be unrealistic to expect yourself to work out every day and count your calories – after all holidays are meant to be a time for relaxing and taking a break from your usual day-to-day routine. One or two weeks of overindulgence isn’t going to be the end of the world in the grand scheme of things, if you lead a healthy and active lifestyle.
But this shouldn’t mean we just forego all common sense and eat anything and everything in sight, doing our best sunbathing sloth impersonation each and every day.
The trick is finding the right balance and even just one or two of the suggestions above will help you to strike the sweet spot between relaxation and indulgence, whilst keeping things under control.
And if things don’t go to plan and you do end up putting on a few pounds more than expected?
It probably means you had a great time and made lasting memories. Remember, there will always be plenty of time to get back on track and find your abs again when you’re back home and not surrounded by endless temptation.
Now go have a great time.