Work it Out: How to Stay Fit on Your Next Vacation

Vacations are often thought of as a time to settle back and forget about obligations and the stress of everyday life. But all too often we leave behind the good things that feed our bodies and minds, along with what is depleting us. Holidays can be a great excuse to overeat and forget about exercise. Between the food, cervezas on the beach, and just plain relaxing, it’s all too easy to pack on unwanted pounds. Here are some easy ways to keep your eye on the health and fitness ball, while still getting away from it all:

Practice Mindful Eating:

A vacation, with its upset to routine, can be a great way to break unhealthy habits, including overeating. Rather than trying to fit as much as possible onto your plate, take the time to bring mindfulness to your eating. Enjoy the process of looking at the menu, savoring just the idea of each dish, before impulsively ordering. And as you are eating, really try to taste and enjoy each bite, rather than focusing on the next course. Mindfulness is about being in the moment, rather than the past or future, and bringing more consciousness to eating can leave you satisfied and sated, rather than bloated.

Look for a Great Yoga Studio:

Whether you practice yoga at home or not, taking a class while on your vacation is a great way to unwind and leave the cares of home behind. At almost every destination you visit, you can be sure to find a yoga studio and often several. If you are new to the practice, or super-stressed, try a gentle yoga or restorative class. You may be amazed where you could find yourself doing a sun salutation–on the beach, in an open air studio, overlooking a quiet bay, or even just a peaceful space that melts your worries away.

Check Out the Hotel Gym:

At many hotels, there are gyms outfitted to the max, and often you’ll have the place all to yourself, as others beat a hasty path to the beach. Take a break from the most dangerous rays, between 10 and 2 p.m., and take a cool gym siesta. Do stretching, maybe some free weights, or a few minutes on the treadmill. The idea is not to exhaust yourself, but just to get some time to yourself to give a little love to your body.

Make Footprints in the Sand

One of the very best and easiest ways to stay fit while on vacation is to take a walk on the beach. If you head out in the early morning, before the crowds show up, a beach stroll can be like a walking meditation, a time to look for pretty shells and listen to the surf. Or just take a break from your mid-day sunning to wander along the shoreline. It will do your body and your head good. Not at the beach? Try out a lakeside or hilly trail.

Try a New Sport

Have you always wanted to golf? What about trying your hand at tennis? Been dying to try scuba diving or snorkeling? Going on a vacation is a great place to take up a new sport, without having to make a big equipment investment. Most resorts rent equipment and offer instruction, or the concierge can hook you up with a local vendor. You never know–you may discover a new passion.

Dine Fresh and Local:

When you are in a new place, it’s the perfect opportunity to eat local, especially in warm destinations that offer local produce and seafood year-round. By focusing on fresh and local meals, you will automatically eliminate many foods that are overindulgent. And, of course, you save calories that you can spend on dessert.

Meditate on This:

Much has been written about the benefits of meditation, and you don’t have to be sitting cross-legged to do it. While basking beach- or pool-side, put on some earbuds and download a guided meditation or soothing music. Or just practice unplugging and quieting the committee in your head. Peace of mind doesn’t just help your mental state, it can also help you keep the pounds off by bolstering metabolism.