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Vacation healthy habits

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It's two weeks after one of the most celebrated holidays in the United States, the Fourth of July! This also means a lot of people are probably on vacation enjoying barbecues, picnics, sightseeing, visiting relatives, doing a variety of activities and probably eating out more often than usual. For many Americans, it's challenging enough to get in or stay in shape on a daily basis, so how can they expect to not gain a significant amount of extra fat while on vacation?

Well, I have a few recommendations to help you use your vacation time as a means to adopt some healthy habits that you can use in your everyday routines once your vacation is over. The first is enlisting your family to join you in a family healthy fitness challenge. This will help all of you stay accountable while working to improve your own fitness level. Humans are social beings and are more prone to success when they are involved in activities that require social interaction of some degree. Plus, most families have an element of competitiveness among them, even if it's not on a conscious level.

So, this friendly sibling or spousal rivalry will help keep everyone on track to reach personal goals, while having fun at the same time. This brings us to the second recommendation, which is having fun. Fun is synonymous with vacation and a primarily purpose for going on a vacation. So if you are doing anything that you find fun, you will most likely want to repeat that activity.

Whether you are swimming at the beach or pool, visiting a museum, hiking one of thousands of trails throughout our national parks, enjoying a game of lawn bowling, riding bikes, playing Frisbee, walking your dog, playing tennis, running, gardening or any activity you consider fun, you will remember how happy you feel during and after the activity that you will want to recapture that happy feeling again. Thus, when your vacation is over that doesn't mean the fun has to end. You just need to duplicate that fun activity in your hometown upon return.
True, some activities can't be brought home, like the John Muir trail, but there are trails throughout our region that you could use to recapture the feeling you had on the John Muir trail.

Another recommendation is moderation of food intake. A huge mistake people make, whether they are on vacation or not, is they think they can eat anything just because they are being more active. What this usually leads to is overeating, because the food choices ingested from this line of thinking (eating anything) often end up having more calories than expended doing the activity. Thus, eat like you didn't do an activity and you won't overeat. And when you do eat, eat only small portions (single serving). If eating out, plan to split a meal with someone or eat only half of it and take the rest home for lunch the next day. Restaurant portions are usually more than a single serving size.

As far as barbecues and picnics, plan to eat taste-test sizes if there are many food choices so you will be able to taste all of them without overeating. Hope these three simple recommendations - family, fun and moderation - help you establish some lifelong healthy habits so you can feel like you are on vacation throughout the year, rather than just the standard two weeks a year.

Patty Peoples is a fitness educator at Chaffey College and is the 2012 USAT National Female Overall Sprint Duathlon Champion and the ITU Sprint Duathlon World Champion in her division. She can be reached at

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