Holidays should be a time of rest, relaxing and fun; not worrying about fitness. One or two weeks of not working out or worrying about what you eat isn’t going to undo all the good work you’ve been doing for the last 50 weeks! In fact, taking a break from your fitness routine and healthy eating could actually benefit you more in the long run.
Before my recent holiday to Cyprus I was starting to feel the effects of over training. I was feeling stressed and anxious, having trouble sleeping, not performing as well as I knew I could during workouts and races, plus just taking one or two rest days didn’t seem to be helping. Luckily I don’t have an addictive personality, so for me taking a week off from exercise wasn’t a big deal (I was actually looking forward to the break), and in reality it ended up being almost 2 weeks as I did very little exercise even on the second week of my holiday.
Instead I used my holiday as a time to completely relax and de-stress. I spent most days at the beach or pool, doing very little and I made sure I got plenty of sleep. While I didn’t worry about what I ate, I naturally tend to prefer healthy foods and as a vegetarian fruit and vegetables are a stable part of my diet anyway; so although I wasn’t consciously making the effort to eat well, for the main part, my diet was healthy.
Coming back into training this week has been hard; especially as the sudden change in hot dry weather to damp cool weather in the UK has meant I’ve also had a cold this week. It’s also meant that I’ve had to take two rest days this week to get over my cold, which seems to have worked as I feel much better now.
As well as this, the signs of over training have gone. I’m feeling a lot more relaxed now and having no problems sleeping. I’m also feeling excited about training again, running races and achieving new goals.
So while I would personally recommend using holidays as a chance to take a break from training, there are also some ways of staying healthy while on holiday.
Tips for staying healthy on holiday
- Drink lots of water, especially in a hot country. In Cyprus the temperature was regularly getting to 40 degrees, so making sure I drank lots of water was essential to avoid dehydration.
- Limit alcohol. OK, holidays are supposed to be fun and relaxing and for most of us (me included) this means having a drink or two…or three! It’s just important to be aware that in hot countries drinking lots during the day won’t just be bad for your waistline but can also result in serious health risks, so make sure you drink lots of water when drinking alcohol and ideally wait until the sun goes down and it’s a bit cooler.
- Eat local foods. Most of the time local foods will use fresh locally grown ingredients and will be made from scratch, not only will this give you a taste of the local cuisine but will also often be a healthier option.
- Exercise using what’s around you. If you’re in a large hotel there will often be an onsite gym or workout classes taking place, which makes working out easy while away. If, however, like me you don’t have access to this instead just do what you can using what’s around you. I swam a lot during my holiday, mainly as a way to stay cool while sunbathing. Another good alternative is to explore the area on foot or hire a bike. Yoga is another easy form of exercise that can be done while on holiday.
- Relax. Mainly use your holiday as a chance to relax and rest. Often when aiming to be fit and healthy we spend so much time focusing on exercise and diet that we forget the other important factor – rest. Holidays are the perfect time to let your body rest and reset itself ready to face the ‘real’ world again once you get back home.