The way it was before
Before I found fitness, before BBG… I would book a holiday and 6 weeks before I had to go, I Would embark on an extreme diet and exercise regime – eating nothing but salads and apples or skipping meals all together. I would drink cups of tea and live on diet coke. I’d go away feeling out of control of my body, staving hungry, deprived and anxious.
I’d arrive at my holiday destination and as soon as I’d eat my first normal meal I’d bloat out looking 6 months pregnant. I would be so frustrated and disappointed that I would let my better judgement, give in to the thought of my less than perfect body and proceed to eat ALL the foods and drink ALL the drinks. I’d lie on a sun-lounger every day eating those enormous family sized bags of crisps. I’d be in ‘holiday-mode’ and having the odd beer from around 11am and continuing (intermittently) all day.
When I finally returned home I would get on the scales to find my bloated body to be at least half a stone heavier than I was when I first booked the holiday.
This cycle taught me to worry about holidays. It instilled in me that nothing was sustainable, that holiday was over indulgence and excess every day. I believed that having to lose my ‘holiday weight’ was a real thing.
I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy those holidays I did. I LOVED THEM. But there was always anxiety in my head and the thought of going on holiday triggered an uncontrollable period of extremes, under eating before I went and overeating when I was there. It took me until the age of 35, finding a take anywhere 28 min workout program that I love and meeting a bunch of healthy living Instagram friends, to get me to see it a different way and the results still astound me.
This year I came back from 2 weeks away lean, in shape, retaining no water or bloat and weighing exactly the same as before I went. I ate everything I WANTED to eat, restricted nothing but remained balanced. I exercised when there was opportunity to do so and when I felt like it. I slept in late some days got up early on others. Nothing about my holiday was a chore or an obligation; there was no hassle, no anxiety, or monitoring myself. I enjoyed myself, I enjoyed my food and I enjoyed being active even when travelling.
At the end of the day, make health and fitness a lifestyle you love and you will take it with you wherever you go. Use it as just a quick fix and inevitably you will undo it all as quickly as you built it to begin with.
Here are my top tips for being fit and healthy on holiday.
Part one – Working out on holiday
(to read part two – how to balance ‘healthy eating’ and ‘treating’ when you travel click here)
Give yourself permission.
Before a holiday I actually give myself permission NOT to work out. I tell myself to take a break and if I don’t train for the whole two weeks that is absolutely fine. Relieving myself from the pressure and by taking the obligation to workout on holiday away, I am just left with freedom. Freedom to do whatever I WANT TO DO whilst I am away. And what do you think I end up wanting to do? That’s right, I workout. Not because I’m on a schedule, not because I feel guilty. But because I’m relaxed, happy and spending two weeks indulging in everything that is enjoyable. The revelation that working out and happiness actually go hand in hand, has taken my commitment to fitness and active living to a whole new level.
No pressure, no problem! – If you don’t end up working out because you really don’t want to. That’s fine too! Our bodies often thrive after a break from all exercise so it could be exactly what you need.
So many things you naturally, actively do on holiday can count for LISS. You walk along the beach, you swim, you shop (ummmm shopping definitely counts as cardio in my book). If you are travelling to another country I’m pretty certain you will do a fair amount of exploring on foot. Whether it’s searching for a great cafe for lunch or visiting the local cultural hotspots. I took my apple watch on this trip with me and it turns out we were naturally clocking up nearly 10k a day without even thinking about it. So holiday and vacation is most definitely a time, when you can relax knowing you’ve absolutely got your LISS covered. One of my favourite things that James and I do on holiday is, we always try and walk back to our hotel from wherever we’ve had dinner. For example our hotel this year was about 30 mins walk away from the hub of the resort. So quite often, we would go for dinner, splurge on great food and eat ice creams and then we would walk the half an hour home. I loved it. It made me feel like I’d walked my dinner away and we always ended up having the best talks re-living the day we’d just had, as we pushed the buggy back in the dark.
BBG in a bind.
If you DO want to workout on holiday. Taking BBG with you should give you all the confidence in the world. In my opinion it is your ultimate fit and flexible best friend. You don’t have a gym in your hotel? No problem, you only need enough space to do a burpee and you’re set. You can do it in your hotel room, in your bathroom, on the beach. It will go where you go and fit in ANYWHERE.
Don’t let easy excuses fool you out of fitness.
So you don’t have weights? So what? Improvise and use water bottles or be like me and go the no fuss route of substituting the weights out all together. Weighted squats become jump squats or even just more squats. No dumbbells to curl and press… press up your body weight with push ups instead. It doesn’t have to be perfect and a little goes a long way. Maybe you want to work out but you are short of time. Just do 14 minutes instead of 28 ( 2 circuits instead of 4) use it as a fast and effective HIIT. 15 minutes later you’ll be done and out the door and burning fat for long after you finished.
At one point when I was using the teeny tiny gym at the hotel (not exaggerating it was the size of a standard hotel room and had zero floor space amongst all the treadmills). Someone came in while I was mid burpee. I felt really embarrassed and it was clear that my workout was taking up to much of the non existent space. I felt like stopping and almost walked straight out. But up until then I had been doing really well so I just stopped all the plyometric stuff and did more stationery BBG exercises using weights. I still got a great burn from my workout but I avoided the embarrassment of lying down on the carpet right next to the man on the treadmill.
If you try hard daily to live a fit and healthy lifestyle, you probably, like me rely heavily on routine, habit, meal prep and fully stocked cupboards of healthy snacks. So it can be a daunting prospect leaving it all behind to go on holiday.
But ultimately Holidays should be a great opportunity, to escape normal life to rest, relax and adventure. We all need to be able to ditch our workout schedules and throw out the rule book so that, mentally and physically we get a break from the monotony of our normal routine. Vacation is exactly that, a vaction. Its a break from everything we know and love and a chance to do something entirely different. No work, no chores, no responsibility. So don’t be afraid to give yourself that free pass to laze on beaches, explore foreign cultures, eat new and amazing foods and to soak up precious time with loved ones. Be stubborn about your goals, but flexible with your methods and flexible with yourself. Leniency on holiday is NOT laziness it will probably bring out the best in you.
I genuinely went on my trip with no intention to exercise. We arrived at our hotel Monday evening and working out didn’t even cross my mind until thursday. I was content being naturally active. Like LISS in slow motion and that was fine by me. After one whole week of not working out I woke up early one morning from jet lag and couldn’t lie still. I lay in bed thinking about what I wanted to do and realised there and then that what I wanted, was to sweat. It was so exciting and new, and indulgent. I had my own personal babysitter in the form of daddy daycare and I had the use of the small gym with weights, treadmills and a filtered water dispenser! ALL things I NEVER usually have access to! Can you see now, why working out on holiday seemed so appealing! Haha!
The point is I ended up working out because it was a huge positive to me. It made me feel good, it made me feel carefree and confident in my bikini, and getting those few minutes to my self a couple of times a week, in the midst of ten days with a toddler was quite frankly a relax rather than a workout haha!