It’s officially summer, which means ’tis the season for beach-inspired workout motivation, extra focus on your sun-protection routine — and diet-derailing vacations. For many of us, fitness goals tend to fall by the wayside in the face of sugary umbrella drinks and local dessert specialties.
But the good news is staving off the dreaded vacation-induced weight gain doesn’t have to require iron willpower, says Liz Josefsberg, a celebrity weight-loss coach and nutrition exercise specialist.
“I love to indulge on vacation, but I also love to balance my unhealthy indulgences with a couple healthy ones,” she says.
To stay on track and still get the most out of your vacation, follow these six tips.
1. Plan your indulgences.
It just wouldn’t be a real vacation without at least a few indulgences, right? But to keep you from going totally off the rails, Josefsberg suggests sticking to a “two on, one off” meal plan.
“Two meals each day need to be very healthy and on target,” she says. “For me, breakfast and lunch are easier to control with eating eggs, fruit or yogurt for breakfast and then a salad for lunch. For dinner, sample a local favorite and maybe enjoy a drink.”
You should also aim to pick your treats before you touch down at your vacation destination. If there’s a local ice cream shop that’s dominating Instagram, plan ahead of time to go there so you can look forward to it. That way you’ll be more likely to hold out for your big indulgence and pass up the dessert menu when it comes at dinner.
2. Stay active.
Keeping up with your 6 a.m. gym routine doesn’t exactly fit with the vacation mindset. And that’s OK. Instead, plan unique activities that will keep you active. Do a walking tour of the city, sign up for a beach yoga class or rent bikes for a day.
3. Take advantage of your tech.
One major benefit of our technologically advanced world is that we have access to information about great dining options anywhere, says Josefsberg. Take advantage of Instagram, Yelp or TripAdvisor to seek out healthy eats when you travel. You’ll get a unique local experience without the guilt.
4. Skip the hotel.
Booking your lodging via Airbnb or VRBO offers the opportunity to cook healthy meals instead of eating out constantly.
Says Josefsberg: “It reduces temptations like all-you-can eat breakfast buffets and even gives you a chance to feel like a local as you shop in markets and visit fruit and vegetable stands.”
If you’re in on a hotel, ask for a fridge in your room; on your way from the airport, stock up on some fruit, cheese and yogurt to keep from splurging between meals.
5. Go sans sangria.
We know, those beach days call for fruity drinks with little umbrellas in them. But they’re packed with sugar and calories, which means they’re major diet saboteurs.
“Alcohol is often the thing that undoes the most of our healthy efforts,” says Josefsberg, who advises committing to a couple of no-drinking days or keeping cocktail hour confined to dinner only.
6. Pack some snacks.
When all else fails, it’s not a bad idea to have some healthy snacks in your suitcase — especially for those endless days stuck in transit. To avoid convenience store junk food, Josefsberg advises slipping a bag filled with healthy eats like granola, trail mix and fruit into your suitcase.
At the end of the day, you have to remember to cut yourself some slack — you’re on vacation after all.
“Don’t get crazy about gaining weight on vacation if you do,” Josefsberg says. “The key is to get back on track as fast as you can when you get home.”
Make it a priority to stock up on healthy groceries, and get back to your regular eating routine as soon as you get home so your lax vacation habits don’t linger too long in your real life.