There is an annual cycle to my workout program that seems to be centered around my winter vacation. Living here in Michigan with snowfall (in some years from October on into April), we determined that a trip near the end of February is perfect to stay off Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Fall is a wonderful season here in West Michigan and Christmas seems to occupy our time for the months preceeding it. The problem is that winter (the actual nasty piles of snow and cold) does not really come until January and February. That is why leaving for warmer destinations at the end of February is perfect. My whole family gets excited packing and planning all through the weeks after Christmas and up to the trip. When we return, it is March. March is still a nasty month, but it is the last nasty month. In fact, there is a guarantee that there will be at least a few Spring-like days somewhere in March. Plus with the increased hours of daylight, the feeling that winter is on the way out can be felt.
Our moods are not the only thing affected by this trip. I bust my butt in January and February to remove those extra holiday pounds and to get into the best shape I can. Here is where I have to make a little confession. This drive I have is not merely rooted in my overall sense of staying healthy, although that is part of it. No, it is for vanity’s sake. Yep…I admit it. I work out hard so I can look good in my bathing suit. Well at least for the first day or so until the gluttony begins to show itself around my waist, which is where every single extra pound seems to find itself!
Confession aside, I have learned some tips on staying healthy while traveling away. If you have not checked out my Vacation Workout video already, that is one workout I purposely created for my trips. It was designed to be done anywhere (such as a beach). No equipment needed, not even a wall or a chair. The actual workout is posted as Bodyweight #1.
But if you are like me, and you don’t want to waste your all-important morning coffee time with a full workout, then here is a great tip (tip #1 below) to keep up your strength. I learned this from reading Pavel Tsatsouline. His book, The Naked Warrior, talks about performing only 2 exercises to maintain full body strength. They are the 1 Arm Push-up and the Pistol (1 Legged Squat). His book gives great tips on how to work up to the full movements, and then how to increase the difficulty if you are freakishly strong. But for the rest of us, start out with the 1 Arm Push-up on an incline and work your way down to the floor. For the Pistol, use a bench to put your butt on while you build up strength.
TIP #1: Then, on vacation, just whip out 5 Push-ups with each arm and do 5 to 10 Pistols each morning before you grab your cup of coffee and head out onto your deck. You might lose some of your anareobic capacity during your vacation, but you can maintain your strength.
TIP #2: Do a vacation workout the 2nd morning. Take that first morning to soak in the vacation resort, cottage, camp ground, or whereever you are. You can then get a good workout in on that 2nd day while you are still motivated. If you fail to do another the whole rest of the trip, you at least have that to break up the week long rest period. Try to keep the every other day, or every third day schedule if you are dedicated.
TIP #3: If you have access to the beach, sneak out after breakfast and before that first Corona and do a jog down the beach. This is quite common for travelers, however, we do it a little different. Pick 3 or 4 exercises and alternate them every so many yards down the beach. Note: Push-ups are great to do in a decline at the water’s edge. As for running, the thicker the sand the better, as it challenges your core.
TIP #4: Most resorts have a gym. I tend to avoid them because they don’t have the equipment I want, but some are better than others. A good time to use the gym is early morning before everybody else gets up. Plus you don’t miss that coffee time!
TIP #5: Have a pool? Early morning is great for doing laps. It is rare for even kids to get into the pool when it first opens. Plus you can sometimes sneak in prior to the posted hours and do some laps without staff noticing, or at least caring.
TIP #6: Same as tip #5, but for the ocean. My wife swears by doing some laps down the beach in the ocean. The waves make for a great workout. Again, early morning is a great time for this. Also late in the evening for an evening swim is quite fun I hear (as for me…I’m too scared to go into the ocean at night).
TIP #7: Think about your planned activities. Maybe instead of coconut shell painting, you chose beach volleyball. Or instead of bead making, you chose a hike and zip lining. There is always plenty of time to relax on vacation, and in fact most of us crave a little bit of activity, if not a whole trip full of it. Just think about how “active” your “activity” is and try to focus more on the physical choices.
TIP #8: Isometrics. I have not done tons of research on this, but basically an inmovable object provides the greatest resistence, so pushing up against the side of the pool with all your might (tightening every muscle) can be a way to keep up your strength. Just stop at the edge here and there and others won’t even know you are doing it!
TIP #9: Carry all the luggage. Sounds silly, but I love to carry all the luggage I can while traipsing through the airports and parking lots. My wife and kids appreciate it and I get a great workout. Plus you can save money with not paying tips to everybody to carry your bags from shuttle to car, etc.
TIP #10: The most important tip there is! When you return, take it slow. As I write this, I am in that very process. Instead of rushing back head first into my program, I am balancing things out. This tip is great for the mental game we all play, especially when you think of exercising year after year. I only worked out 2 times my first week back and I’m still not eating well (ok, I’m still horrible. Too much to drink and eating late night snacks). But the key here is to enjoy the variation in the year schedule. Embrace it.
Please click on the post and leave your own tips and comments about how you deal with vacations, or any questions you might have.
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The strength tips you gave regarding Pavel’s book are great. I read his book while on a week long camping trip. By merely doing only those two exercises a few times through out our camping trip I felt like great. When I returned to a normal schedule I didn’t feel that exhaustion and loss of strength I expected.