Summer is here. But I’m guessing you already knew that. Every single magazine out there is reminding us of this with articles such as “get your body beach ready” and “5 tips for a killer summer physique”. Oh, and then it’s the temperature of course. That kind of gives it away.
This is not going to be a post where I tell you how to get a perfect bikini body. If you ask me, the way to get a bikini-body, a beach- body or whatever you want to call it, is to strip off the clothes you are currently wearing, put on a bikini, and go to the beach. Congratulations, you now have a bikini-body.
No matter how you define having a bikini or beach body, I am actually going to assume that you already have achieved that body you read about in the magazines. This summer you have prepared by doing a few extra sessions in the gym, skipped that 3pm croissant and chocolate crème Frappuccino, and you’re now ready to show off all your hard work from a sunbed somewhere in Spain or to your friends and family back home. Bring it on! You are ready!
Or are you?
I’m so sorry to have to break it to you, but loosing weight is easy- keeping it off is a whole different story. How will you manage to maintain this beautiful, healthy body of yours when you are leaving Dubai, your gym membership, your training buddy and your standard breakfast, lunch and dinner? Will you be able to keep your healthy routines when you are faced with tempting breakfast buffets and friends and family who just don’t understand why you should wake up early to go for a run when you can sleep in? Is it possible to return to Dubai without those extra holiday-kilos?
Before I try to answer that question I think we should look at how you achieved your summer body (congrats on the great work btw, you really do look good!). Did you do a 3-week quick fix on a crash diet and extreme training regime that was really hard to stick to but made you look like a million bucks in the end? Or did you spend all year since New Years to implement daily habits that has taken you on a journey towards a better, healthier you? I really hope it’s the latter.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand that a quick fix to get your body beach ready in a matter of only three weeks will have to require some drastic approaches. And let me tell you something; drastic change doesn’t feel nice for a body that likes to be in homeostasis (read: balance). The more drastic the approach, the less likely it is that you will actually be able to stick to it in the long run. The long run meaning both before, during and post-summer.
If you focus instead on achieving a body that makes you look and feel good all throughout the year, not just during the summer months, the challenges that the holidays will bring might not even be so challenging after all. If you have been able to keep your good habits while dealing with having to skip the gym due to overtime at work, or having to order in because the kids got sick and you couldn’t grocery shop, a few weeks away from Dubai and your set routines will not make you forget about these good habits all together. Sure, it will be a bit trickier to follow your exercise routine when you no longer have access to your regular gym, and to eat healthy outside the comfort of your own kitchen, but that doesn’t mean you will stop exercising all together and turn to pizza and burgers every evening, does it?
We have to get away from the “all or nothing”-mindset, and think a bit more long term by making exercise and eating well long-lasting habits. A habit, by definition is a routine of behavior that is repeated regularly and tends to occur unconsciously. Unconscious training- “where do I sign up?” you might think. But from personal experience I can tell you this; there will come a day when training becomes a part of your life that you cannot live without. You no longer exercise because you know you should, you do it because you want to. You might not love it when you’re at your third set of loaded bulgarian split squats or pushing through that last interval on the treadmill, but you know that the feeling you get afterwards will be worth it all.
And guess what, when you get to this stage you’ll even end up exercising while on vacation. Your gym shoes and training bra will be just as natural a content of your travelling bag as your toothbrush and deodorant.
Not quite there yet? That’s alright- it will come. Meanwhile, you can try some of these “training while travelling” tips.
The most important thing to remember is that everything is better than nothing. So what if you don’t get to train as hard, long or often as you normally do? A powerwalk while exploring a new city, or playing tag with your children can count as training as well. Usually I’m all for the quality over quantity when it comes to training, but if we are talking about you doing something, instead of being completely inactive, I’ll let this one slip.
No gym, no problem! Here are 3 workouts that does not require any equipment:
- Do as many reps in 1 minute of bulgarian split squats, dynamic planks, alternating lunges, V-sit ups and burpees. Rest one minute between rounds and complete 3-5 rounds. (..don’t know what the heck I’m talking about? Then let me introduce you to this wonderful thing called Google)
- Find the nearest hill, run as fast as you can up, walk down. Repeat for 10-20 minutes. No hills close by? Do the same thing in the nearest stairs.
- Complete as many rounds as possible in 10 minutes of 5 push-ups, 10 sit ups and 15 jumping squats
These are just a few examples. As long as you have the will and motivation it is only your imagination that will stop you. And if you’re not that imaginative, a quick Google-search for “travel-wods” will give you long lists of workouts to do without the need of a single dumbbell.
In theory, being off work actually means that you have much more free time on your hands to exercise. But lets be honest, unless you are going on some sort of training-camp, you don’t want your vacation to revolve around your training. Having said that, if you want to get something done, you have to prioritize exercise just like you prioritize to hit the gym before or after work normally. Decide in advance which days you want to train while travelling, and try to stick to it. A great tip is to do the training first thing in the morning. And like we’ve talked about already, it doesn’t have to be much. 10-15 minutes of intervals on the hotel-gym treadmill before you hit the breakfast buffet, and you can spend the rest of the day on a sunbed feeling great. If you’re at home, put on your training clothes the moment you wake up, and it will be so much easier to actually go through with the training.
A very obvious challenge you will face when travelling is that you no longer have access to your normal gym. And if you are like me, who actually craves to lift something heavy when it has been too long since you did, it might be worth paying for a day pass at one of the local gyms just so you can get in at least one “normal” training session. Some gyms also have special summer packages that doesn’t require for you to sign up for any membership, so if you are staying for a while, it might actually be worth investing in. Why not join your friend back home at his or hers gym, and it can be a good way for the two of you to catch up.
Otherwise you can use the change of scenery to your advantage. I don’t know if you guys have noticed yet, but it is pretty hot in Dubai these days. So hot that I have given up on outside running for the time being. When I get back to Norway however, going for a run (in the woods instead of on tiles or asphalt!) is something that I really look forward to. Maybe where you’re going too will allow more comfortable running temperatures and fresh air? Want to save some time? Opt for intervals instead of long distance running. It will give you more bang for the buck, and is usually more gentle on joints and muscles.
Training is one thing. The nutrition bit is usually where it gets tricky. And no wonder. Lets say you hit the gym for 1 hour, 3-5 times a week. That leaves you with approximately 163 hours of a week to mess it up by either eating to much, too little or completely wrong. It doesn’t matter how hard, intense or correct you train, if you eat fries and burgers 5 times per week. It really is true that you cannot out-train a bad diet.
Being on a holiday might involve much more of eating out at restaurants, having ice-creams in the sun, as well as indulging in all the foods you have missed when in Dubai. Again, lets not fall into the all- or nothing mindset. If you mess up your nutrition a bit the first days of your vacation, it does not mean all is lost and that you just as well should continue in this manner until you’re back in Dubai. Let me put it this way, if you drop your iPhone on the floor and it breaks, do you pick it up and get it fixed, or do you leave it on the floor and step on it until it’s completely broken? You get it fixed, right?
Worst-case scenario, you actually do return to Dubai with an extra kilo or three. Is it really the end of the world? A few weeks back on track with your daily routines and they will be long gone. Eat healthy when you can, but save some room for desserts as well. Take a walk in the fresh air and enjoy your holiday.