Thursday, June 26, 2008

Vacation Guest Post #1

Hi folks! I’m Susan, and I’ll be your guest blogger today. You can find me over at Nutrition Fitness Life, where I write about food and exercise, with a bit of my personal experiences thrown in for good measure.

Melanie was kind enough to ask me to write a guest post while she is on vacation, and since many of us are planning vacations this summer, I thought, hey, why not write about vacations… and exercise!

At first glance, those two topics seem to go together like oil and water. It’s vacation, after all; I don’t want to concern myself with getting to a gym! And oftentimes when we go on vacation, our exercise routines take a vacation too… just not along with us!

I know that for me personally, the longer I take a leave of absence from my regular exercise routine, the harder it is getting back to into it. And that’s just not fun. That’s why I like to make a point to work out – even just little bit - while on vacation. When I maintain some semblance to my usual exercise routine, I find it easier to get back into the regular healthy habits once the vacation is but a memory.

First, and most importantly, I give myself permission to ease up on the exercise. Why? Because I’m guilty of being hard on myself. I would stress over trying to work out regularly, and I would miss the chance to simply enjoy being on vacation! Learning to forgive myself is important in the ability to enjoy life in the here and now. I shouldn’t expect myself to be perfect.

Now, what helps me actually fit in time to exercise is making a firm commitment to it before the vacation even begins. Making a commitment to exercise holds me accountable. It even brings out a bit of my competitive nature, and a healthy dose of competition can be a great motivator! Also, a commitment avoids any wishy-washy, wet noodle kind of decision making. I’m less tempted to throw all exercise efforts out the window!

Planning is another strategy I use against totally slacking in the exercise department while on vacation. I think about where I’m going, if I will have access to a fitness center, what activities I will be doing, and so on and so forth. I make sure to pack a couple pair of workout clothes and good workout shoes. If I’ll be walking a lot, I just wear the workout shoes. One less item to pack! Figuring out my options ahead of time makes it a lot easier for me to get up off my bum and get a little exercise. Sometimes that means being creative.

I recently visited family in Texas and a couple hour layover at the airport. I used that time to walk up and down the long terminal, weaving around people and checking out the destinations as I passed by each gate. I’m sure the folks watching the security camera were wondering what I was up to, speed walking back and forth through the terminal! It felt good, though, to stretch my legs and get in some exercise.

If you’re ambitious, you could pack a yoga mat, jump rope, resistance bands, exercise videos, or, shoot, all of the above! Love to run like Melanie? Scout out potential running trails or safe jogging routes. Staying in a hotel? Book with a hotel that you know for certain has a good fitness center. Call the hotel directly and ask. If you’re really gung-ho about kicking your exercise up a notch, turn your vacation into one that is entirely focused on fitness. Look into fitness boot camp locations.

That may be a bit much for most of us, but let’s not negate the power of stealth exercise – exercise you do but don’t even notice. Stealth doesn’t seem like your standard workout! Vacations are great for this! Walking while sight-seeing through Europe, swimming in the pool with the waterfall slide, hiking in the Smokies, rock climbing in Colorado, doing the hula in Hawaii, horseback riding in the country, kayaking, canoeing, water skiing at the relative’s lake, playing on the beach with a group of your friends, and running through the sprinkler in the backyard are just a few examples of excellent stealth exercises! Because they’re so much fun, we tend to do them for longer periods too, and that just means more exercise. Cool.

Wait! Now that I think of it, I can get a ton of exercise while on vacation! Hey, not bad. So, of course, this means I should be going on vacation all the time. For the sake of maintaining fitness, naturally. :)