BY LISA TRAUGOTT
This past year I did something crazy. It started as an idea when I was pregnant: when my daughter turned ten and my son was eight, I’d homeschool them and we’d take a trip around the world. Well, we didn’t make it around the world, but we did make it to three continents, six countries, ten states and about a dozen cities. Some of the places we visited with my husband; and part of the trip I drove the kids by myself cross country, because I’m clearly a masochist. And to add extra stress, as a bikini competitor I wanted to eat clean and stay in shape the entire time (but was secretly freaking out that I’d gain a ton of vacay weight.
One of the great parts of taking a typical vacation means you’ll be moving around a lot, whether hiking on a nature trail or walking slowly through a museum. Beyond the basic cardio you do during your day, here are some tips if you want to kick it up a notch:
- While searching for your dream hotel, try to make sure it has a fitness center. Most websites show pictures of their gyms if they have them, so you can tailor your workout around what equipment is available. The condo we rented had a newly built gym with all the whistles and bells, so I was proud to have christened their equipment with my blood, sweat and tears. (Ok, just sweat.) I did my typical workout of cardio followed by strength training and so can you.
- Not all hotels are created equal, which is why I always bring my own set of resistance bands. The exercises I did focused on my arms (curls), shoulders and back (front to lateral raises and a variety of rows) and booty (walking squats and donkey kicks). Resistance bands are affordable and portable and you don’t need much space. While driving cross country alone with my kids I certainly wasn’t going to leave them alone, so I did a resistance band workout in our room while they watched cartoons and everyone was happy.
- No gym? No problem! Put on a pair of sneakers and learn about your new location by running through town. Know how many steps there are at the Spanish Steps in Rome? 138. Know how I know that? Because I ran up and down them when our family backpacked through Europe.
Want to experience local cuisine without expanding your waistline? It’s all about balance.
- Pack food for the trip. International flights have their own rules and regulations of foods allowed, so stick with individual protein powder packets, almonds and protein bars. Domestic flights are even easier because you can bring cooked foods with you. Turkey meatballs are a good choice because they aren’t messy and you know the exact serving size to eat. Please may look at you oddly when you pull out a Tupperware in an airport, but I guarantee the will think you’re impressive when there’s a flight delay and you’re happily nourished while everyone else is fighting over the last bag of M&M’s in the vending machine.
- Find a hotel or VRBO (vacation rental by owner) with a kitchenette that includes a refrigerator, stove and/or microwave. When you have a kitchen you can prepare your own food for at least some of your meals and know exactly what’s going into your body. Side bonus? You will save some cash by only going to a restaurant once a day versus three times.
- Restaurants are your only option? That’s okay too. Here’s where you want to pretend you’re Sally from “When Harry Met Sally” as in, “I’ll have the chicken but please grill it without butter or salt and I want the baked potato plain and cut in half and the vegetables should be steamed.” If you don’t specify how you want it cooked it will most likely be covered in some high-calorie, high-sugar, high-sodium sauce. Most waiters are used to people with food allergies so they are willing to work with you, especially if you are polite.
Final tip? Have a cheat/treat meal! Part of travelling is enjoying the local cuisine and part of living a healthy lifestyle is being able to eat a treat and then get right back on track. Follow these tips and keeping your shape can be done.
These are the strategies I used to keep on track and while traveling in Costa Rica I was able to not only compete in the Musclemania Sports Model competition…but won! So these simple little vacation hacks really work- trust me!