We’ve just landed back from our holiday in Portugal. If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook you’ll know there were ice creams, burgers, M&M’s and some very sedentary days. We most certainly let our hair down BUT there was also a lotta good stuff going on, here’s an insight into how we stay FITTER on holiday and few tips to take away on your own travels.
We outline the nutrition principles we follow here at Fitter Food on our Fitter 16 Lifestyle Transformation Plan so if you’re looking for some guidance, education and structured plan to follow head there. It’s designed to be followed at any time of the year and offers guidance on social events, weekends away and holidays so you can still show up, have a great time and continue your journey to optimal health.
What I really want to discuss here is the fact a holiday is actually a great chance to be healthier, in fact, it should be easier, especially if you follow these 5 steps:
1) REMEMBER The Reason You Holiday
We have to start with this reason because many of you may have forgotten it and it’s easy for holidays to become all about the booze and ice cream. Of course, holidays are a chance to break away from your routine, relax your usual nutrition or training habits but ideally without having too much impact on your health.
You’ll be pleased to know the change in environment (less stress, more sleep and time outside) will likely have such a positive impact on your mental and physical health that you can often be more flexible and not experience any negative effects. However, your body and mind have limits. If you start taking things too far and notice you’re feeling bloated, gaining weight or experiencing mood swings you may need to add back in some balance.
Sure it’s fun at the time but so is the freedom from your daily routine, responsibilities and the fact that you have the opportunity to do some cool stuff.
This is what you may have forgotten, that ideally, a holiday should feel enough.
Matt and I use holidays as a chance to slow down and savour things.
We feel so grateful to have time to sit and sip our morning coffee slowly, watch the sunrise, paddle in the sea, people watch and just enjoy each others company. We spend time loving the simple, small things we never make enough time for at home.
If you’re holidaying properly and have other ducks in a row you should find it easier to make good choices most of the time and still implement some degree of control.
On the other hand, if you struggle to feel content in the moment without something to look forward to there’s a chance you have some bigger issues to consider. In which case your holiday provides the chance to do some serious contemplation and reflect upon WHY you feel the need to do this.
Of course you should enjoy some indulgences but also make a distinction between having some of what you fancy and completely losing yourself in a boozy haze or sugar coma.
2) Pack Up Some Fitter Food and Go!
Our holidays are often a nice mix of relaxation and activity, during the daytime food is more about fuel as we’re usually out making the most of the different environments. We save money by doing a daily pack up and usually plan something more special for the evening where we’ll head out to a local restaurant.
We always opt for self catered accommodation so we can make up a cool box, it takes 10 minutes and usually includes some variation of the bags of salad, cherry tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, chopped cheese, fruit, tinned fish, boiled eggs, olives, avocado, nuts/nut butter, cured meat, cooked potatoes, rice/oatcakes, sea salt and balsamic vinegar.
In fact, our new favourite thing is almond butter and sea salt on a cold sweet potato, it helps that Portuguese sweet potatoes are the BEST!
From an exercise perspective, the awesome thing about a holiday really is the freedom, you’re not desk-bound, tied to school runs and don’t NEED to be anywhere.
You can choose where you want to be whenever you want which means there’s loads of room for movement, literally!
You can walk all day long if you want to, swim daily, do some sports or go dancing, holidays provide way more opportunities to do some enjoyable forms of exercise.
We often mix up beach walks, sightseeing runs, beach yoga, sea swimming, pool volleyball and will hit a gym if we feel like it. We like to have a go at any sports on offer, so far we’ve done surfing, stand up paddle boarding, mountain biking, landsailing and rock climbing on our breaks.
3) Intermittent Fast Occasionally
There are several reasons you might wish to throw in the occasional intermittent fast of around 14-16 hours and skip breakfast.
It can help implement a calorie deficit or energy balance which may be needed if you did have a little extra the night before but also from a convenience and cost perspective.
It lessens the need to think about or plan meals, which means more time to get out and make the most of your break.
Also, many European countries typically eat later, which means restaurants serve food later so shifting your eating window to later in the day might be easier.
Fasting isn’t for everyone, some people find it leads to cycles of overeating, some people struggle mood and energy wise without breakfast (another option is to eat an earlier dinner – although it might be tricky in countries where eating late is more typical).
It’s also not suitable if you have a history of disordered eating habits or are pregnant.
4) Ensure You Escape Daily
It’s essential you use your time away to escape your daily stresses.
As mentioned above that doesn’t mean you just get pisshed all the time, but equally, it can be tricky to slow down and switch off initially so finding something that occupies your mind helps.
A good start is detaching from technology with a digital detox.
Leaving your phone and laptop at home would be ideal although not always possible for many people, if you do have to take your phone output it on airplane mode (download your favourite music and Fitter Food Radio podcast beforehand of course) and if you HAVE to check emails for work purposes simply limit the window you do this and ask others to keep you accountable.
We run an online business and feel more comfortable checking in on things daily, there were a couple of occasions we could have sat working the entire day away but we prioritised tasks, covered the essentials only and filed to the rest in a “To do back at home” folder which meant we could sleep easy.
Our favourite means of escaping on our holiday is reading fiction books and biographies, we often read completely different genre’s and tell each other the abridged version.
We listened to our favourite comedians in the car and in the evenings watched The Bridge – which we highly recommend. Not just because it’s amazing, but because it’s also very mindful reading subtitles.
5) Get a Dose of Energy Medicine
Now this can sound pretty alternative but listen up, your health is really all about cells, it’s what’s your made of.
Optimal cellular health requires you to be able to neutralise something called reactive oxygen species (commonly referred to as free radicals).
These damage components of your cells, accelerate disease processes, drive inflammation and actively age the body.
Free electrons help to diffuse these reactive compounds, these can be delivered via antioxidants in your diet or another source is grounding the body, also known as earthing.
When you connect to Earth and your skin comes into contact with rocks, grass, beach, soil or the sea you can change the balance of charge within the body by drawing negatively charged electrons from the ground and these help to counterbalance the positive charge that results from reactive oxygen species and exposure to electromagnetic frequencies (emitted via mobile phones and wifi).
Many people notice chronic pain or joint niggles tend to subside on holiday and this may be one reason along with the extra vitamin D from sunshine and sleep.
Doing some exercise or yoga outside is a great means of multitasking, getting your daily movement and ‘earthing’ quota nailed at the same time. Alternatively just kick off your shoes and have a brew outside.
A Few of our Holiday Essentials…
And finally here are a few things (mostly products and supplements) that we always take along with us abroad.
Despite eating relatively well there can be a significant decrease in our vegetable intake when travelling. As well as a reduction in the variety of food we eat so these just support us in the meantime.
Quality Multivitamin – We take a multi to keep our basic nutrient needs covered and choose a quality brand with good manufacturing practices.
Omega 3 Fish Oil – Due to the fact we’re eating out more and consuming more vegetable oils (rich in omega 6) we take a quality fish oil.
Renew Life FibreSmart Powder – Travel sometimes disrupts bowel movements and this just ensures we’re getting our daily quota of fibre.
Protein Powder – Handy for hitting protein requirements, we will often just mix with water or milk and have as a quick snack or brekkie. WOur favourites are Nuzest Pea protein, Vital Health Pea Protein, Pulsin Whey or Sunwarrior Rice Protein.
Aloe Pura Aloe Vera Gel – We use this for aftersun protection.
Trophics Sunscreen – a pal recommended Trophic as a natural sunscreen. It’s the first one we’ve found that applies well and doesn’t leave you looking like you’ve painted yourself white. you can buy it here.
Fitter 16 (Ha!) – Us and all our Fitties take the Fitter 16 principles on holiday and adapt them as per the guidance on the plan as a means of staying energised, happy, motivated, not worrying about weight gain and ensuring we have an epic time.