E and I took our annual vacation last week. After 3 all-inclusive vacations, I have finally figured out how to maintain my weight while away from home. Three years ago, I gained 6 pounds in a week on a cruise to the Caribbean. Last year on another Caribbean cruise, I managed to keep it to 3 pounds. And this year, we went to an all-inclusive Jamaican resort and I gained exactly none. It takes me awhile but apparently, I can be taught.
For anyone who hasn’t been to an all-inclusive resort or cruise, the general idea is that everything is paid for in the price of the vacation. That includes all food, liquor, and entertainment, which is mostly available 24/7. It’s easy to over-eat, over-drink, and over-party, but not inevitable. You can overcome the over-indulgences that are presented. Here are the tips that worked for me.
1. Concentrate on protein. Protein is filling and uses more energy to digest. When eating at a buffet, fill up half your plate with leafy greens and other vegetables first. Add your lean proteins to the other half and skip most of the rice/noodles/bread. It took me 3 years to realize that just because a thousand options were offered for my culinary pleasure didn’t mean I had to try them all.
2. Control your alcohol and dessert intake. I know, vacation is for relaxing and enjoying yourself. By all means, have some treats, but be aware of how much you’re indulging. Those dessert buffets and open bars can be deadly. If you know you’re going to want a dessert or drink, cut down on your appetizer, entrée, or mid-afternoon snack.
3. Stick with your exercise program. Cruise ships, resorts, and hotels everywhere have fitness rooms or gyms. Unless you are specifically taking a planned vacation from exercise while you take a vacation from work, stick with it. Do your cardio or weight lifting in the morning. You may find it’s fun to work out in a different gym with new equipment to try. Interestingly, when we went on our cruises, the only day the gym was full was the first day out. After that, most of our fellow cruisers stopped going, leaving the room empty for us.
4. Stay active. Find activities that keep you moving. Lying on the beach with a Pina Colada is fine for awhile, but don’t spend your whole vacation vegging out. Go do something. Snorkeling, swimming, hiking, zip-lining, rock climbing, and all kinds of other activities will get you moving. Maybe you’ll even find something new you absolutely love to do.
5. Stay hydrated. If you take vacations in a warm locale like we did, you will need to be aware of drinking enough water. We tend to be dehydrated anyway and drinking an adequate amount of water will help keep you from experiencing false sensations of hunger. Also, remember that all that food tastes wonderful because of the liberal use of sugar, fat, and salt. Your body will require more water with all that sodium and/or liquor.
6. Get rest. It sounds great: a whole week on the beach just lazing around. But somehow, you don’t really feel rested when you get home. Travel, a strange bed, and changing schedules can be exhausting and make you feel like you need to recover from vacation when it’s over. Plan for occasionally sleeping in, taking a short afternoon nap, or getting a massage to help you rest when needed.
Most of all, enjoy your vacation without stressing about gaining excess weight. If you do gain, no worries, it’s not the end of the world. Just plan on getting back to business when you get home.