Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Can Your Waistline Survive Your Vacation?

Vacation. Sigh. Just typing the word brings to mind rest, relaxation and overindulgence. It's fantastic for your mind and spirit, and everyone needs a break where they can just check out for a bit, leaving the stress of work behind. But while vacations are the best thing for our state of mind, they're not always the best for our waistline. Whether traveling to the beach where the fruity drinks flow freely and slothing on the beach is number one on the list of To Dos or eating the road trip diet of fast food, snacks and beef jerky (but only if you're a guy - seriously, why do men love beef jerky so much?), we all steel ourselves for the inevitable weight gain the comes with end of a vacation.

As we embarked on our annual trip to Florida this year, my family and I considered this reality. We've all been good about eating well and exercising recently, and we told ourselves we'd stay true to our regimens. But who were we kidding? We knew we wouldn't be able to resist Publix's famous key lime pie (if you're ever in Florida, get some. Trust me on this), the daily happy hour margaritas or the Easter candy. And while I'd like to report that we kept our resolve and our will power in check...sadly, we did not. Yes, we went down the road of excess at full speed, indulging in all of the aforementioned goodies.

Fortunately for us, we indulged in a whole lot of activity as well. If you've read my previous post, you know Dad has a compulsive love of walking, and he did not disappoint this year. While we neglected to hook him up to a pedometer to chart his mileage, let me tell you, that man was a walking machine. Up early to power walk increasingly long distances, then back to grab Mom and Grandma for their morning walk, asking every five minutes once we were settled on our "land loungers" on the beach "When are we going to walk to the inlet? Now? How about now? Are you ready now?" and finally, the after dinner jaunt. All in all, we each logged at least three miles a day. For Dad, it was probably double that.

As for me, I didn't stay true to my desired calorie intake limits, but I too pushed myself on the exercise front. I figured that as long as I kept burning as many calories as possible, I could justify that piece of key lime pie or ice cream cone.

Still, I was convinced the scale would admonish me upon return to reality. But, amazingly, the walking, tennis and workouts seemed to do the trick. I managed to go on vacation without seeing the scale move up even an inch. Frankly, I was shocked. But it does give me hope. So here's a rundown of what I learned from this year's trip:

1. Walking is, in fact, the best thing for ya. Doesn't matter if it's to the pier, the inlet or just along the Intracostal. You just gotta walk.

2. Playing tennis every morning is the best way to start the day (it is actually required on the Florida vacation, unless you want Dave to get cranky). I wish we could continue to the tradition now that we're home, but sadly, there's that pesky thing called work getting in the way again.

3. The laws of exercise physics don't seem to apply on vacation. Or maybe it's just Florida. I found I could push myself even harder than I can at home. Maybe it was seeing the ocean while I sweated, or perhaps it was just thinking about the pie I planned to have for dessert (yum!).

4. Happy hour drinks on vacation have negative calories. Same goes for Easter candy. OK, they don't, but they definitely SHOULD.

So the next time you're on vacation, consider this: It seems that as long as you keep active, you can actually enjoy local delights. So live a little. Just make sure you take a walk after your meal!

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