Strategies for Keeping in Shape on Vacation

You probably know this feeling. You are working hard on getting in shape for your beach holiday. You are giving it your all to be nicely toned to show off your bikini. You work out at the gym, you run, you watch what you eat, you reduce your alcohol and sugar intake. And then, finally, it’s here, the dream holiday. The beach. The sun, the sand, the cocktails. You spend your days lounging on sun chairs, sipping drinks and enjoying the local cuisine and the only workout you get is your walk along the beach and to the pool bar. And a few dips in the water. Or maybe you are like me and spend your holidays in the mountains hiking. And then you reward yourself with greasy sausages and cold beers, and Apfelstrudel with whipped cream.

And then you come home and discover back at the gym that you are starting all over again. I certainly have gone through this cycle for many years. And it is so frustrating! Please don’t get me wrong – I think it is perfectly ok to have some fun for a couple of weeks and enjoy the local dishes, cocktails and have a break from the gym. The problem is that my breaks are usually longer. And if you let yourself go for more than a couple of weeks (which I have many times!) you end up back where you started 12 months earlier or after Christmas or whatever time it was when you decided it is time to trim up and shed some fat.

Collecting advice and tips from friends and reading articles on this topic, I have come up with a list of strategies to avoid this vicious cycle, and, hopefully, to return more or less in shape after the next holiday….


This is too obvious, but try to walk wherever you go. If you are in a city, try to walk instead of using public transport or taxis. If you are at a beach, try to go for walks along the beach. Go hiking in the mountains. Most places also rent bicycles, which can be a fun way to explore new places. If you are a runner, try and go for a run before breakfast. It’s a great way to explore new cities or beaches, and starting the day off in this way often results in healthier food choices during the day.

Wait with the Drinks

This is a tried and tested strategy from my best friend. She waits until her children are in bed before she enjoys a glass of wine or a beer (if you don’t have kids, wait until 8 pm or until it’s dark). If you are like me and you like to enjoy a glass (or more) with lunch and then continue on all afternoon, this strategy can really make a difference. Often, once the kids are in bed, I am so tired that I am not having that glass anyway and instead have a cup of tea and go to bed myself. Lots of calories saved that way!

Watch what you Eat

I know what it’s like to constantly watch what you eat. And it is so nice to eat on holidays what you feel like. However, all day, every day, greasy and deep fried food is not healthy. I love trying local dishes, and they don’t necessarily have to be fattening. Most cuisines have healthy and lighter options and if not, one can always watch the portion sizes. And sweets – if you have nutella pancakes for breakfast, ice cream after lunch and Tiramisu after dinner, you can’t be surprised if your waistline expands. Moderation is key. You don’t have to say no to everything, just pick and choose wisely so it doesn’t end up being an around the clock indulgence.

You may also consider not to have every meal out. If you stay in an apartment, holiday house or a hotel room with a little kitchenette, you could go grocery shopping and have your breakfast at home (oats, fruit, yogurt). Or you can easily make some sandwiches for a picnic at the beach (bread, tuna, salad leaves, tomatoes). This can also save money. When my children were small we often had lunch or dinner in the holiday apartment or hotel room as the kids had nap time or an early bed time.

Be Active during your Holidays

The older I get, the more I enjoy being active during my holidays. I love hiking and going to rope parks with my children. Or renting scooters to ride down mountains. In tropical destinations try snorkeling and stand up paddling or canoeing. Play tennis. Or, as mentioned above, go and explore your destination by walking, jogging or cycling. If you are in the same situation as me and spend a lot of time in a holiday home, bring your favourite workout dvds with you. I always have a few Jillian Michaels and Yoga dvds in my suitcase. They don’t take up much room and I can squeeze in a 30 min workout on rainy days. I also always have my skipping rope with me these days (see my blog on skipping rope) – it takes up no room and can be done anywhere.

Fitness woman doing abs crunches

My no-equipment-can-be-done-anywhere workout

Here is a little workout you can do anywhere and no equipment is needed!

To warm up, do the following:

30 jumping jacks

30 high knees

30 mountain climbers

Do this warm up twice.

Then you do the following body-weight exercises – this workout has been inspired by some of our really tough fighters fitness classes!

50 squats

25 forward and backward lunges right leg

25 forward and backward lunges left leg

20 push ups

25 burpees (chest to floor)

30 side kicks (15 each side)

30 leg raises

1 min wall sit

You can do this circuit as many times as you like…. And the cocktails will taste so much better afterwards!

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