7 Ways to Stay on the Path
By Marilynn Preston
Going on vacation this fall? You'd better! But let me warn you, it's a jungle out there, even if you're headed to the beach, the mountains or the museums.
Temptation is everywhere, usually fried or coated in chocolate. Without an action plan in place, even the strongest of us will wind up with Pop-Tarts and margaritas for breakfast.
At home, after all, we're in the comfort zone of our current routine. We shop, we cook and we keep our kitchen stocked with real food. We have our sports and games, our gym time, our yoga classes. We have our healthy lifestyle support systems in place.
But transport us to a strange, new place, and we leave our best intentions at baggage claim. We sleep through our workouts. We run ourselves ragged. We fall off the smart eating path and come back home carrying eight extra pounds.
Take heart. Here are some ways to take a vacation that actually refreshes and revitalizes you.
THINK THROUGH A PLAN. Once you know your destination, sit quietly and visualize. Focus on where you're going and what you'll be doing. Exploring a new city? Going camping? Visiting relatives? Imagine the ways you'll stay active. Walking? Biking? Kayaking? Create a vacation calendar and write in your workout days. Plug in the details: Where will you go? What will you do? Who might join you?
HAVE A MANTRA. Come up with a gesture—a tug on your ear?—or a phrase that that reminds you to eat well. I like to tell myself, "Eat real food," but yours needs to be yours. ("Another round of beers" wouldn't be a good choice.)
POST IT. After you unpack, tape your plan and mantra to the bathroom mirror or minibar. If you miss the mark some days, don't judge yourself. Just begin again, knowing that staying active and eating mindfully will make your vacation more fun, not less.
THE PLANE TRUTH. Airplane rides suck the moisture out of you, sicken you with bad air and cramp your body for hours at a time. You need your own flight plan. Travel with your own good food. Stay hydrated, and not with small bottles of Jack Daniel's. When you power down your phone, do the same for your body. Take a few minutes to sit quietly and breathe deeply, calming your mind and releasing tension from your body. During the flight, keep the juices flowing: Pump your legs, raise your arms, rotate your ankles, wiggle your toes. Ignore onlookers. Upon arrival, give thanks.
RESEARCH YOUR HOTEL. A hotel with a workout room is nothing new. They're everywhere. The Westin Hotel chain is even offering free loaner workout clothes and gym shoes. Thanks, but no thanks. My workout gear goes into my suitcase right after the water flosser and hot pepper flakes. Make sure your hotel has a decent gym or access to one nearby. Inquire about neighborhood walking trails, running routes, bike rentals. Plan to incorporate walking tours or biking trails into your sightseeing routine, because they're a fantastic way to get to know a city.
TAKE YOUR WORKOUT WITH YOU. Create your own in-the-room workout. Bring a jump rope or resistance bands, or DVDs, or go online and follow along with videos that inspire you to relax, stretch and strengthen. Faithful readers will not be surprised to learn that I travel with my small, squishy bag of Yoga Paws (hand and foot gloves, from www.yogasyz.com), so I can do my practice without schlepping a mat. Another travel trick I just discovered is a website called www.YogaGlo.com. Online and streaming, it's like traveling with the best yoga teachers in the world, ready to lead you in a class, short or long, easy or hard, anytime you like.
ACCEPT WHAT IS. If you travel with expectations, and get angry and upset when things don't go your way, you'll be miserable. Flight delays, missing bags and terrible service at eye-watering prices, vacations can be minefields of stress. Or they can be opportunities to let go and practice the serenity prayer. "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference." Write it down and pack it next to your snorkel and fins.