Recently my husband, Mark, and I vacationed on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu to celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary, a second honeymoon if you will.
I’m a big fan of vacations: not only are they fun but they’re also good for our health. Vacations allow us to unwind, reset, and reduce our accumulated stress levels. A 20-year Framingham Heart Study found a correlation between annual vacations and the reduced likelihood of heart disease or heart attack in women. Another study showed that travelers had increased work performances and improved deep sleep rates after a vacation.
However, we can undo those vacation health benefits by over-indulging in unhealthy food and not exercising. No one is guiltier of this than me. Years ago I took a three-day cruise and ate my way through the Pacific Ocean, hitting the buffet tables (literally) around the clock and eating unlimited quantities of dessert. Not only did I gain a significant amount of weight, but I also left the boat tired, full of self-hatred and vowing to get back on my “diet” (which of course I never did).
Now my vacations are too precious to me to waste one minute feeling bad, either physically or emotionally. I wanted to share with you some things I did on my recent Hawaiian vacation that enhanced my enjoyment and my health:
- Even though I was on vacation, I still wrote down my food every day. Only because I couldn’t plan what I was going to eat in advance, I wrote it down at the end of the day so I could make sure my meals were balanced.
- Because I have severe blood sugar drops, I eat six times a day. Before I left, I packed pre-measured snacks that allowed me to save money on the island and gave me grab-and-go convenience:
o Low-sugar protein bars
o 1 oz. boxes of raisins
o 1 oz. dried fruit that I put in Baggies
- I packed my vitamins and minerals and took them every day to make sure I stayed healthy (which helped boost my immunity against sickness).
- Instead of sodas, I bought a twelve-pack of La Croix berry-flavored mineral water and drank that instead.
- Every morning I walked by the beach while listening to either to the natural sounds of the ocean or to a motivational or spiritual speaker, which served as both exercise and meditation.
- At restaurants, I ordered double vegetables instead of the starch (like rice or potatoes) and asked for my salad dressing on the side.
- We invested in two one-day passes at the local 24-Hour Fitness so we could continue with our strength-building routines.
- Being in Hawaii, I took advantage of the delicious fresh seafood, ordering Hawaiian ono (wahoo fish), salmon and shrimp, and making sure that I avoided sauces, since most contain sugar.
- I brought my journal to the beach and wrote freestyle to “catch up with myself” and see what I was feeling, get in touch with the changes I wanted to make in my life, and define new goals.
- One of the best parts was being able to sleep in. That in itself was worth the trip. After a few days of more than eight hours worth of sleep, I felt like a whole new person.
These actions helped me enjoy our vacation even more, and I came home feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. And I even dropped a few pounds, which was a pleasant surprise (and a lot different than my vacations in the past).
If you have vacation tips, please either leave them in the Comments section or email them to [email protected]