Between the beautiful ocean from my lounge chair, the young server bringing me a drink, and the book that I just cannot put down, I really feel like I’m vacation. When I go away on holiday, I love the lavish meals with extra butter; big bowls of bread sitting at the dinner table, dessert menus and drinks with tiny umbrellas. It seems like vacations are all about staying up late, drinking a little bit more than we should, and eating amazing meals full of salt and butter.
But what happens when you get home and have to get back to the daily work grind? You’re exhausted, bloated, and carrying around those 5 extra pounds you gained while living it up. You’re not rested and definitely not ready to start working again. Next thing you know, you are back at your desk dreaming about the next getaway and trying to figure out how to stop the madness of this vacation cycle. Or maybe those are the kinds of vacations you thrive on, and if that’s the case have at it and read no further! But if you’re ready for something different, fun, adventurous, revitalizing on your vacation, keep reading on how to take a “Fit”cation.
What exactly is a “Fit”cation? A “Fit”cation is a different way to look at being on a holiday or vacation.
I just got home from vacation in Hawaii and this year I decided to turn it into a “Fit”cation. I decided to spring into my vacation with a new attitude on how to spend these precious days off. Every day was about adventure and fitness, about eating better, and about getting enough sleep and water. I wanted to wake up and really enjoy every second that I was away from work. I wanted to come back and feel thinner, and stronger than when I left. I wanted to come home with an attitude to carry me through my daily routine until the next “Fit”cation came around.
I had been planning this trip for month; scoping out what activities that would allow us to see local sites and experience new activities. I decided on about eight adventures activities; not guided tours that cost tons of money but adventures we read about in guidebooks or asked locals about. These fun-filled days would include swimming, standup paddling, surfing, hiking, walking, snorkeling, biking and Slacklining (a form of balance training). Also included: some awesome daily yoga and, of course, some much-needed downtime.
These activities would be physical but would also address our different fitness and strength levels. Remember: each person’s fitness level is different, so always listen to your body.
Here are a few of the choices I decided to make while I was away on my “Fit”cation:
1. I wanted to be able to get up very early to watch the sunrise most mornings and feel the beauty of the sun peeking out from the darkness. Starting the day so early can be hard, but once I saw the spender and peacefulness of the sunrise, it was easy to get up every morning after. It doesn’t matter where your location is, just give it a try because it can be a very peaceful and uplifting way to start your day.
2. I wanted to hike and walk more. Yes, we had a car rented half of the time while away, but every chance I got, I tried to walk to where we needed to go, especially if it was less than 1 mile away. I wanted to take a few hiking adventures so that I could get in the most amount of cardio as possible. Some places and sites can only be appreciated if you take the time to hike to them. I love a good drive-by view as much as anyone; but hiking to that same view just makes the beauty so much more special.
3. Here’s a big one, and sometimes a really tough one, for me. I wanted to make the best choices for myself at each and every meal. I wanted to choose more vegetables and less pasta. I wanted to eat less bread and less dessert. Okay, there is always some room for negotiation during this process. But looking back over my meal choices in Hawaii, I can deduce that 75% of all my chosen meals were of a very health-conscious, decision-making process. I did have a little bread and a few bites of dessert now and then. And of course, being in Hawaii, where some of the best coffee in the world is made, my caffeine intake was a little bit higher than normal. But I tried to counteract my indulgences with healthy choices; for example: I tried to balance out my coffee intake with drinking a lot of water.
4. I decided to go to bed early so that I could get up to see the sunrise the next morning. All day adventures also make going to sleep and getting that deep sleep so much easier. Additionally, our beds were super comfy and I could hear the waves crashing and birds chirping every morning.
5. I tried new adventures and got referrals from the locals. Being an avid standup paddle boarder, we paddled almost every single day for long distances. We would bring along tasty snacks: apples, carrots etc to have during our paddles. We snorkeled and swam as well.
6. I always tried to find the sunset, no matter what. People would flock to the beach where we were staying just to watch the sun sink into the ocean. It was really cool to be with a group of strangers all experiencing this beauty together. It was kind of like a form of sunset meditation.
7. I tried to find local studios for classes of any kind: yoga, Pilates, take a surf class. Or learn to paddle board, try kayaking or take a tai chi class. The activity doesn’t matter, but try to immerse yourself within the location that you choose; what do the locals like to do? Try not to simply take the tours for visitors, find new adventures on your own. Buying a guidebook is always helpful.
8. Find a really comfy spot and grab that book you’ve wanted to read. Check out of life for some time everyday and read, mediate, or people watch. It’s amazing how it helps to calm the mind.
9. Finally and most importantly – Be playful! Run around like a child, jump for joy, do a cartwheel, laugh, sing out loud, introduce yourself to everyone. Chat with people you don’t know. It’s what we all want to do anyway as soon as we have a chance to take the business suits off. Doing this will definitely recharge your soul.
To sum up this “Fit”cation, now that I am back at work I feel better than I did when I left. I don’t feel like I need to catch up on sleep or to try and diet a few pounds away that I gained on vacation. I feel stronger and calmer and more amazing. I love getting to go away and coming home but mostly I love being able to tell you, the readers, how much I appreciate continuing to live in Grace. Til next time.
-by Michelle Gierst
Michelle Gierst Fitness Editor Downtown Magazine NYC If you’re looking for a few suggestions of great “Fit”Cations please feel free to email me at MichelleG@dtnycmag.com