Lean Holidays –Published in Pune Mirror, April 11, 2011

It’s that time of year – the holidays are around the corner and you are frantically making rail, airline and hotel bookings. Excited, you are waiting for that well deserved break but keep in mind not to take a break from healthy habits that you have worked at all year long. While you are planning your holiday, whether it be an exotic locale or down the street to your mother’s home, also plan how you will stay in shape and not pack on extra kilos. Gone are the days when the summer heat instantly aided with weight loss – “it’s just too hot to eat” rarely happens anymore. With people moving around, air conditioners, shopping malls and social occasions there are more chances to stay cool and eat!

Come June when you are 2 kilos heavier you will have to spend double the effort of losing those extra kilos. Making a little effort by some advanced planning will help you to avoid weight gain.

On the road…

• If you are travelling by bus, car or train, make use of stops on the way. Get up and stretch to move your muscles. You will feel less tired from the journey.

• Pack healthy snack items. In the days when outside food was not as safe, food was packed for journeys. It may seem outdated but it is the best way to avoid high calorie foods. Bus and train stops have samosas and vadas which are okay in moderation but packing some peanuts, fruit or sandwiches is a better option. It need not be messy – bring plenty of napkins, wet wipes, plastic spoons, and plastic bags for trash disposal.

• Avoid too much caffeine – your energy levels drop as quickly as they perk up and the caffeine will make you fatigued in the long run. And you will need to urinate more frequently and we really don’t want that when travelling!

• Do not skip meals – you will end up making up for it at the next meal. Continue to eat at regular times.

• Keep music, games and other items that will keep you occupied, otherwise you may open that bag of chips out of boredom.

In the Air….

• Instead of sitting around waiting for your flight to be announced – walk around the airport to avoid sluggishness.

• Airports have tempting croissants, pastries and cookies but they usually have fruit juices and sandwiches so please choose the latter. Save your indulgences for pastries at pastry shops and not at airport eateries.

• Eat a meal at home before going to the airport and you will be less tempted to eat some of the junk foods offered at the airport.

• Call the airline in advance(usually 48 hours) to order a lowfat meal option.

• Walk up and down the aisles on the flight to avoid stiffness.

Check in….


• Try and stay at hotel with a gym.

• Do exercises in your room. You do not even have to pack extra equipment but it may be worthwhile to pack a jump rope. Simple surya namaskars, pranayam, running in place and yoga for only 20 minutes will keep you make you feel fresh and enjoy your holiday even more. If you are feeling energetic you will make smart food choices.

• Find walking paths near your hotel or place of interest. If there is an option for movement – stairs, walking, cycling – use it.

• Be wary of buffets especially breakfast buffets. Breakfast buffets often come free with the room and it is tempting to get your money’s worth, however not only will you feel lethargic after eating all that cheese, meat and bread, toast with jam(my holiday favourite) and endless cups of coffee you will pack on the pounds. Do not have the attitude of skipping lunch or dinner since you have had such a large breakfast. You are on vacation and will be tempted to eat again.

• Do not be afraid to ask for substitutions for your meal – veggies instead of French fries, olive oil instead of butter, etc.

I am not advocating you try and lose weight during your holiday, just maintain it. A holiday should be fun as should exercise. Try new things, sightsee on foot, go trekking, and definitely enjoy the good food without total deprivation. Being healthy is a lifestyle and the above points will eventually come naturally. Return home with plenty of special memories, not extra kilos.

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