How to Have a Healthy Spring Break (and still have fun)
Whether you are a teacher, student, parent or just anyone lucky enough to escape the tail-end of winter, spring break can be the perfect getaway to get some much-needed sunshine this time of year.
You’ve now made it several months into 2017 and are (hopefully) on track with your nutrition and fitness goals, so the last thing you need is a vacation that seriously sets you back.
The good news is, you can have a healthy spring break and still have fun. Here’s how.
Make Good Decisions While Eating Out
Nothing can backtrack you more than spending an entire week overeating at restaurants. Following some easy guidelines can ensure this doesn’t happen.
Avoid the Bread Basket
The bread basket (or chips & salsa) can be hard to resist, but this can easily cause you to eat an entire meal’s worth of empty calories before the main dish is served.
Refined carbs have been shown to be a top contributor to weight gain and an array of health problems. Better to not rely on willpower alone (especially after a cocktail or two), so simply ask the server not to bring the bread.
Read the Menu Beforehand
This might seem a bit obsessive, but arriving prepared to a restaurant can seriously up your chances of making a healthier selection.
If you’re out and about during the day, peruse the menus as you walk by local restaurants to get an idea of where you can go and what you can order. Familiarizing yourself with the options while you’re not hungry and/or distracted has been shown to help you make healthier choices.
Sub Side Dishes
As long as you are polite, it is completely acceptable to ask how dishes are prepared or request substitutes.
For example, if a dish is served over rice, ask that it be served over steamed vegetables. Ask for your salad dressing on the side. Instead of bread, ask for a side of fruit or veggies.
Most all restaurants can easily provide these alternatives.
Stick to Meat and Veggie Options
Always opt for menu options that consist of real foods, especially meat and veggies. This way, you won’t be overdoing it on the carbs and you’ll be getting your fill of healthy protein (shown to support weight loss), vitamins, minerals, and fiber. You can enjoy your vegetables steamed, grilled, roasted or stir-fried, but request that they aren’t prepared with too much oil. Similarly, order meats that are grilled, roasted or baked.
Choose Low-Calorie Cocktails
Another sure-fire way to backtrack is overdoing it on the sugary, high-calorie cocktails. That’s not to say you can’t drink (let’s be realistic), but you definitely can choose options that won’t totally derail your nutrition plan!
Calories in Common Tropical Beverages
- Pina Colada – 245 calories, 31g of sugar
- Strawberry Daiquiri – 216 calories, 32g of sugar
- Mai Tai – 260 calories, 16g of sugar
- Margarita – 200-600 calories, 12+g of sugar
Avoid or drink only in moderation sugary cocktails, wine coolers, hard ciders with added sugar, beer and liqueurs. Instead, choose options such as red wine, champagne, vodka, rum, gin, whiskey, mezcal, tequila and low-sugar ciders. Mix them with club soda, fresh lemon juice, muddled herbs, coconut water and even coffee.
Needless to say, drinking in moderation is much better for your waistline and your health. Drink a glass of water in between alcoholic beverages.
The body is 60% water (give or take), and we are constantly losing water via sweat and urine. Given we are likely sweating more on a spring break vacation, it is very important to stay hydrated.
Adequate water intake increases energy level, improves brain function and can help you lose or maintain your weight, mainly by boosting your metabolism and reducing appetite. Strive to drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water, each day (150 lbs=75 oz of water, for example).
Choose to Bike
If you’re hitting up a beach location, research bike rentals in your area. Not only is this a workout, it’s fun! Bike to the pier, to dinner, and back home, all while working up a sweat.
Get in a Quick Workout
Thankfully, you don’t need to log long hours at the gym (or any hours at the gym) to get in a good workout. Whether you have 20 minutes in a hotel room or outside on the beach, doing some exercise during your spring break vacation can make a world of difference.
Many fitness professionals recommend short, intense workouts that call for maximum effort over long duration, high-intensity cardio. In fact, studies even show that “chronic cardio” can cause oxidative stress and could possibly do more harm than good in the long run, so mixing up your exercise program with shorter workouts is highly beneficial.
Remember that maximum exertion will look different for everybody, and on a one to ten scale of exertion, you’ll want to reach an eight or nine. Try one of the following two workouts, after warming up your body for about 5 minutes by jogging in place or doing dynamic movements such as jumping jacks, bodyweight squats and reverse lunges.
- 4 minutes: 20 seconds of high knees in place, 10 seconds total rest. Alternate this for 8 rounds.
- Rest for 2 minutes
- 4 minutes: 20 seconds squat jumps or speed skaters, 10 seconds total rest. Alternate for 8 rounds.
- Rest for 2 minutes.
- 4 minutes: 20 seconds forearm or hand plank, 10 seconds total rest. Alternate for 8 rounds.
- Jog in place or around the block to warm up. Any hill will do, or use stairs.
- Sprint at your maximum effort for 30 seconds uphill, rest 30 seconds-1 minute.
- Repeat these 30-second sprints 8 times.
- Cool down with 5 minutes of walking.
If you have access to a beach or pool, don’t just sunbathe. Swimming can burn some serious calories. Try this workout:
- Tread water 5 minutes
- Breaststroke 100m (A guesstimate will do)
- Tread water 5 minutes
- Sidestroke 100m on the right
- Sidestroke 100m on the left
- Tread water 5 minutes
Treat Yourself to a Spa Day
Treating yourself to a bit of R&R at a spa isn’t only a wonderful way to spend a vacation day, but it can also motivate you to make decisions that are healthy for your body, which usually carries over to the choices you make around food, drinks, and exercise.
Treat yourself to a massage, facial or other treatment of your choice, and feel good about the fact that you are able to enjoy your vacation in a way that cleanses and rejuvenates your body. If that same spa offers a yoga or meditation class, even better.
Add in a Weight-Management Supplement
While staying on track with your nutrition and fitness comes mostly from dedication, motivation and putting the work in, a safe and effective supplement can help too, especially during a vacation where you might go a bit overboard. Almased is our best selling weight management supplement that works to both speed up your metabolism and provide your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs.
A unique combination of fermented soy, probiotic-rich yogurt and honey can help to jumpstart your diet and improve your nutrition, two things that can’t hurt during a vacation.
Most importantly, relax and enjoy your break. Chronic stress undermines even the healthiest eating plan, so take time to breathe in the fresh air and catch up on sleep. And if you can have a healthy spring break, it’s that much sweeter.
Rachel Fiske is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant and graduated from Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition in Berkeley, California. She is also a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Rachel focuses on issues of weight management, GI problems, hormonal imbalances, fatigue and more via a whole foods diet and lifestyle changes.