There are plenty of blogs, magazine articles and adverts telling us how to get ready for our much-anticipated summer holidays (who can forget last summer’s uproar over the Protein World advert that was plastered all over the London Underground asking women if they were “beach body ready”?)
What you don’t find quite as often is advice on how to keep on track once you’re on holiday and how to strike the balance between enjoying yourself and not undoing all the good work you may have put in in the run up to your holiday. Whether you agree or not with this concept of making yourself “beach body ready” the fact is that many people spend the few months before summer improving their dietary habits and increasing their exercise levels in an attempt to feel good when they finally get to step on that golden sand and feel the warmth of the sun on their Vitamin D- deprived skin. I often find my clients return from a holiday feeling guilty about all the alcohol and unhealthy food they have consumed and so here are some handy tips on how to keep you on track whilst on holiday (but at the same time not spoiling your fun!)
1. Set intentions
This was a tip given to me by my mindfulness coach a while back and quite honestly it has never failed me once whilst on holiday. Set aside a minute or two a day (preferably in the morning) to set your intentions for the day. For example, you may want to say to yourself “Today I’m going to focus on eating plenty of fresh vegetables with every meal”, or “Today I plan to walk for half an hour along the seafront”. It may sound simple but setting your intentions helps to give you a focus for the day and really makes you feel in control of the situation. (You are also more likely to take action if you spend a few moments acknowledging an intention to yourself at the start of the day).
2. Savour everything and really enjoy the moment
How many times have you gone on holiday and ended up forgetting most of what you did because you were always thinking of what you were going to do next? This is particularly important when we think about holiday food and drink - if you’re going to order a big cocktail then sit back, relax and really enjoy it, savour every sip and take in everything that’s going on around you. The same goes for food - chew every mouthful carefully; close your eyes and immerse yourself in the sensation of that delicious ice cream gently melting in your mouth. Chances are if you stop and really focus on enjoying all these sensations you are less likely to end up overeating or drinking excessively (and feeling terrible about it the following day!)
Obvious but true, holidays are a great chance to explore new surroundings by foot (or by bicycle if you’re feeling adventurous). Making the effort to walk around will pay off no end health-wise, perhaps going for a half hour walk every evening before dinner can be one of your holiday intentions. Beach holidays are also the perfect excuse to get back into your swimming - rather than lying all day by the poolside sipping margaritas, take the plunge and dive in headfirst into the water every couple of hours and challenge yourself to getting out of breath doing a few laps (this gives you the perfect excuse to reward yourself with a margarita when you’re done!)
4. Eat vegetables
Again, probably quite obvious but vegetable intake is usually the first thing to suffer when on holiday. Make an effort to include 2-3 portions of vegetables with all your meals - it is always easy to swap chips for salad or to add an extra side serving of vegetables to your order. Take advantage of the delicious olive oil available in many Mediterranean countries to drizzle your vegetables with heart-protecting polyphenols and anti-ageing antioxidants.
5. Switch off and enjoy a good book!
We all know the negative effects technology can have on our stress levels and mental wellbeing. Use this opportunity to truly switch off and perhaps set an intention to check your phone only once or twice a day. Ask yourself, do you really want to spend your holiday scrolling through other people’s holiday photos or worrying about a work email there’s nothing you can do about? Go well armed with a couple of books you’ve been meaning to read for a while and enjoy immersing yourself in a good old story.
So, to summarise I suppose the main take home message from all these points is to stop, savour and enjoy! Happy holidays everyone!