Weight gain and travel seems to go hand in hand. Remember tasting all of those regional culinary delights that you can’t get at home? (For me, conch fritters and poutine come to mind.) Can you hear the food calling you now? “You will never get this chance again! Eat, eat it all!” This year as I’ve been going through my Shape journey, a hot topic with my traveling friends has been about staying healthy on the road. I’ve lost count of how many people have said to me (this year!) that they have gained 10, 20, 30, 40 (and more) pounds since they’ve started traveling or that every time they leave town they gain at least 5 pounds and have to work so hard to get it off before their next adventure.
Believe me… I feel their pain. I can’t travel without gaining weight. Or rather, the former me couldn’t travel without busting the seams on my travel clothes on the last day. This year I took a challenge to not gain weight, or better yet, lose weight on a Princess Cruise. The end results were pretty awesome. You may have already read in my column that I came home a half pound lighter, lost 10.5 inches that month and debarked on the last day more toned than when I boarded and it was all because of my focus and, yes, I still had a great time. Best of all, I learned a few things. Let me share…
1. Balance your meals. Indulging in rich foods three or more times as day is one way to guarantee weight gain. Instead, pick one meal to splurge on then monitor your indulgences the rest of the day. It’s not as hard as it looks. Skip the toast at breakfast, eat a locally inspired salad a lunch then dig in at dinner or, depending up on your itinerary, reverse the order and eat a light dinner.
2. Watch your alcohol. Did you know margaritas can be loaded with as much as 750 calories – in one drink! Try the “drink water in between” alcoholic beverages or opt for light beers instead of those calorie-packed foo-foo cocktails. Better yet, just opt for water. You can’t go wrong staying hydrated and you won’t wake up hungover. No, seriously. I double dare you.
3. Take the stairs. While on the cruise my sister and I avoided the elevator the entire time and now when my family travels we only use the elevator when toting our luggage to and from our guest room. The rest of the time it’s the stairwell, baby!
4. Use good judgment. You know what’s good for you and what’s not. I don’t need to tell you to opt for baked instead of fried or tomato-based sauce instead of cream sauce. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean calories are free. Trust me. They’re not. Don’t let your brain go to mush and make bad choices. You don’t have to be perfect, just try your best.
5. Go green. This is obvious, but it works whether you’re on a cruise or camping. Try your best to fill up on veggies at every meal. Think salads or veggies sides or add veggies to your campfire burrito.
6. Look for exercise opportunities. My sister and I took a took a lot of classes, almost daily, on the cruise and on the last day of the cruise we signed up the Princess Cruises Community Foundation’s On Deck for the Cure program. The 5K fundraiser walk is offered to passengers every cruise. The next month when my family went on an East Coast roadtrip, we stopped by the “Rocky Steps” for the classic tourist run up the 72 Philadelphia Museum of Art steps. Not only is activity great for you, it’s fun. Think bike rentals, park hikes and adventure filled excursions if you are on a cruise.
You can stay healthy on the road with a little planning. Just take it one meal at a time and do your best. Every vacation will get easier and easier as your Bermuda shorts get smaller and smaller.