How to maintain your weight on holiday!
The idea of going on holiday and changing the routine of control and organised meal times puts me into a spin. What can I do to keep control of my weight and not lose it by thinking to myself ‘oh sod it’ and fall into a carbohydrate overload!
Going on holiday should be such as joy, time to take my foot off the pedal and relax. As I run a business and busy clinic, the constant demand for stress hormones such as cortisol keeps me pumping every day. Even I admit I need to take some time out to remove myself from the business and think clearly for a while. However, this also rocks your core values and the thread that keeps me motivated all day.
A typical day for me is;
- Up at 5 am – Breakfast & Coffee
- 6:30am – Gym;
- 8 am – Work/Clinic
- 1 pm – Lunch
- 1:30 pm Work/Clinic
- 8 pm – Home & Supper.
This year holiday is two days in Poole, Dorset then ten days on Cunard Cruise ship to Tangiers with a weekend back at home, seeing the whole family before returning to work on Monday morning.
The internal fear and panic start about a week before the holiday date. I start thinking ‘will all my holiday clothes fit me?’ ‘Do I feel I look good enough for the holiday photos and put on a bikini?’ Then I remember I have been following the plan that I set 6 weeks ago to make sure I can remove these negative thoughts from my head. After years of torturing myself I have managed to trust that I have worked hard to maintain my weight all year round, and with that I know I am the best I can be!
Exercise Plan – On Holiday
Common questions my clients ask are; Is walking sufficient movement to keep me fit? Or they say, “There is no way I am going to the gym I’m on holiday?” Or if I do go, what do I do, and how do I fit it in with my family? Well, the general answer is Yes, anything is better than nothing and with the gym option, just get organised!
With two weeks before my holiday, I asked my Personal Trainer Adi Duff for a 2-week workout planner. As he knows what I can do and capable of, he gave four 45min workouts that I could do based on very simple equipment, my body, a bench and some dumbbells. We also worked on the theory that if there was a treadmill or rower I could do some cardiovascular work when possible.
Good Food Choices
Over the years the most difficult decision while on holiday is? Do you just let it all go and eat what you want, or do you maintain your healthy food choices while away? I advise my clients, that keep the focus, as you always want to feel good about yourself so treat your body to good nutrition rather than with sugar! However lifestyle choices are more often a little more relaxed than the everyday routine, so I get it? There is a balance, with a few ground rules and a little planning and responsibility you can enjoy your holiday, the more relaxed routine and return home without putting on 7lbs of weight and the feeling of back to square one!
Hotels & Restaurants
A few years ago, when I first started eating well when travelling or eating out, there was never any health food options available. However these days, most hotels are trying very hard to accommodate the healthy food choices. Unfortunately, even the best hotels seem to have taken their nutrition advice from the local GP who potentially still smokes and facing diabetes themselves!
Freshly squeezed orange juice, bananas, apples and low-fat yoghurts! Unless you are about to run a marathon, all these options contain far too much natural sugar and carbohydrate for anyone. When you add in brown toast, jam and a cappuccino, the general population will be heading into a sugar crash within 2 hours of consuming their breakfast. But don’t panic you will be able to enjoy another coffee or cup of tea with a blueberry muffin once you start your morning walk, as that contains another one of your five a day!
A good example of this was at the Hotel du Vin hotel chain in Poole. We choose this hotel as we like the quality of the rooms and the evening meal in the bistro is more often very simple and delicious. However, on this occasion, it was the breakfast that particularly caught my eye, and I wanted to share my thoughts and advice.
The charge is £15 for this beautiful display of pre-pack cereal, freshly squeezed orange juice and the usual eggs, bacon and sausage option. My observation was that they are trying to offer healthy options but falling into the same trap by bringing in the pre-packed marketed products that have been labelled as Healthy yet still a convenience food.
Examples are: an additional unlabelled juice, which we guessed was mainly apple, carrot and some other green vegetable, better than orange juice but still very sweet! Low-fat strawberry, natural yoghurt, packets of mixed seed made with honey, granola that was held together with treacle and a homemade flapjack, which after just having a small taste provided me as much butter & sugar I would need for the rest of the week rather than till lunch!
My biggest concern is that most people would approach this table and feel as thou they had made some good healthy choices and then wonder why they don’t lose weight the next day.
How do you survive in this jungle of choice?
Understanding your metabolism is a good starting point. Based on my 23andme .com DNA testing, and various biochemistry tests with metabolic balance, I know I am unable to metabolise carbohydrates. Therefore, my diet is rather high fat and protein with only getting my carbohydrates from nuts, vegetables, and a little fruit. Not everyone is the same, so my low level of carbohydrates may not suit everyone, but this works for me.
Not really being a fan of telling you what you can’t eat, I prefer to write in a positive manner. However, this is a list of what not to have for breakfast if you want to lose weight when staying at a hotel;
- No bread or pastry
- No fruit juices
- No bananas
- No jams or marmalades
- No granola or honey based seeds
However, luckily, eggs are always on the menu and save the day! I just wish the restaurants would have spinach available at breakfast time. The stuff only seems to come out after 12noon. Mushroom omelette or a bed of wilted spinach with two poached eggs would be a perfect treat!
Health food on Cruise Ships
On a cruise ship food is a 24 hour a day affair! The breakfast buffet is open from 6 am to 11 am, and then from 11 am it is lunch menu. Served until 3 pm as this is when afternoon Tea arrives. Fresh scones & cream are taken away at 6 pm when dinner is available in the buffet, or you can go to restaurant for the full five-course meal at 6 pm or 8:30 pm. After the show if you feel peckish you can always pop back upstairs for the evening hot food that is available from 10 pm until 6 am. So if you need a slice or pizza or a hot dog to go to bed with, they keep them lovely warm and fresh for you until breakfast.
Too Much Choice
It all looks very appetising; they provide a full range of food choices which is amazing as there is so much choice. This is where the problem starts if you want to enjoy your food but not pile on the pounds. Whatever you might fancy it is there for you, and if not on the day you wanted it can be requested from the chef, as they always do their best to accommodate every guest.
However, while it all looks fabulous, the actual taste is minimal taste. Our only conclusion as to why every tasted so bland was that the Chefs need to accommodate every guest. Strong tastes & flavours are complicated to get right and please the masses. Taking this into account the solution to not overeat was to isolate the food, so if you decide on fish for lunch, stick to the fish options and just increase the portion size if you wanted more, which funnily enough matches one of the 8 Rules of the Metabolic Balance programme.
The other rule I followed was to vary each protein throughout the day, so if I had eggs for breakfast, no egg would be popped on top of the Chicken salad at lunchtime. Then when choosing from the menu for the evening it was easy to select the vegetable option for a starter, simple salad and then the main course would be the fish. The waiter got used to me asking for not potato or rice and extra green vegetables.
Pudding & cakes, again actually taste them and ask yourself is it worth the hassle and effort to work off those extra calories. As I am sure at this point, you all say, “oh I am on holiday Jenny, and I deserve a treat”. Unfortunately, if you need to lose weight, you have already had lots of treats, so it’s time to accept that every cake is extra, it’s not nutritious and not required. You only want it because you can see it, but do you want the consequence of it?. So if you want it then have it, but make sure it’s the tastiest thing you have ever tasted.
My trick was to have one mouthful, so I didn’t feel I was missing out, but after trying every single pudding on the buffet, there was not one that was worth it! So after a few days, I stopped looking at the cake and never order one at supper, so it became normal for me not to have a dessert and the waiter soon learnt to get my black coffee for me early, so I have something to do while Steve was eating his soufflé!
Exercising while on holiday
Armed with my plan, I signed up for the spin classes @ $12, if I buy four I will get the 5th free. They would be held every sea day at 9 am for 45 mins. As a minimum, each day I had this booked in, and I also had a plan for each day at 5 pm. This gave me sufficient time to enjoy the workout, have a shower and be ready to go for drinks @ 7 pm. I would feel good about myself, slightly thirsty and a bit achy Perfect!
Happily, I can report back that I completed the above plan to approx. 80%. One of the spin classes got cancelled, and the full body workout that Adi gave me was quite hard, as the heat in the gym was so intense, and more often I did feel quite lethargic. Which I could only put down to the heat of ship more rather than the consistent alcohol consumption every day and me relaxing a little.
I had been on this ship before, so I knew the gym layout and what I could do. One important thing I did differently this time was that I did not weigh myself the whole time I was there. I decided that I didn’t want to know, and I did not want the weight to dictate my mood for the evening. I knew how much and what I could eat, and the amount of alcoholic drink I could get away with! This was most definitely the best decisions I made.
Honestly; There were times when I was having my afternoon nap and for all the tea in China I did not want to get up at 4:45 pm and go to the gym! However each time this feeling came to me, I thought about how good I felt afterwards and Adi saying ‘You never regret a workout”. Annoying he was right because I made it important and had a plan and because I made it the routine of the day, it happened. Not always the best workouts of my life, but I did something, and every time I did more than I thought I could when I was lying in my bed at 4:45 pm having the debate with myself.
So arrived home and we both wanted a curry, the taste buds were starting to die off, so we needed to revitalise them as soon as possible. As normal disappointed as Steve can make a better curry these days, but hey at least he didn’t have to cook it. I then went on the trail of hunting for every different taste and texture that I missed while surrounded by the mass of flavourless food.
Back to the Routine
In the past, I would go on holiday and return with this desire for a new start of health kick regime. However, for the first time in my life, I stood on the scales, got out the tape measure, tried on my tightest clothes and looked in the mirror and thought, you know what I am alright. I must admit I did make the decision to stop having two glasses of champagne every day. Even the Tuesday morning metabolic circuits was manageable as normally two weeks off you are hanging when you first get back.
So no need for Strict Phase 1 & 2 just the usual relaxed phase 3 for me. Above all, I enjoyed every minute of my holiday with no tantrums of nothing fitting me or feeling fat. For the first time in my life, I felt at ease about my weight & fitness. Amazing!