Staying fit when on vacation

A month before the vacation is about to commence, I feel an intense pressure to shed a few kilograms. Considering that almost all our vacations take us to a beach on some day or the other, the stress to look good in swimwear intensifies the pressure even further. For me, it is at least 30 days of hard work in the gym, skipping desserts and sticking to salads and soups every night. And then… its vacation time! Everyone loves a break… from the gym… for the health food… from everyday life. After all, it is in vacations that you can eat guilt free – you have earned it! However, after the vacation, I hate the feeling for wanting to unwind the unnecessary calories consumed and the additional effort to cleanse myself of the sins of a foodie.

To make the ablutions easier, here are some tips to help you stay fit during a vacation…

Use the swimming pool or the sea… to swim!

We all love the pool: sitting in front of the blue waters with a sun hat – that’s the highlight of most beach vacations. And oh…let’s not forget the bee line of cocktails with the little umbrella that keep coming… accompanied by some finger food. Actually, left to Ankur, this is exactly what we would do in each vacation.

The blue Mediterranean at Milos, Greece... time for a swim!

The blue Mediterranean at Milos, Greece… time for a swim!


Enjoy the drinks and the finger food even more by creating some calorie deficit – swim a little in the pool (or the sea). 30 minutes of breast stroke can help you burn approximately 200 calories.

Yoga to the rescue – Suryanamaskar

Suryanamaskar or the ‘sun salutations’ is a series of 12 yoga postures that calm the mind and help the body stay in shape. If done at a fast pace, the series provides excellent cardio vascular work out and can help you burn over 200 calories in 30 minutes. If done at an easy pace, the series of poses help your body stretch and strengthen the muscles. The regime is best done empty stomach early in the morning. My favourite tutorial to learn the suryanamaskar is the one from Art of Living.

Suryanamaskar: 12 poses

Suryanamaskar: 12 poses


During our trip to the Arctic, when the outside temperature was at least 20 degree Celsius below zero, and going for a walk or a run seemed like an impossible task, the Suryanamaskars helped me maintain an exercise regime, even in the hostel. You do not need any equipment – not even shoes! Just a yoga mat or even a thick towel will do the job – you don’t have an excuse, do you?

Squat challenge… my favourite

The squat challenge forms a part of my pre-vacation work out regime. A word of caution – start this at least 10 days prior to your vacation and work on it through the vacation – you will bless me for having shared this as the results are awesome and noticeable. If day 1 of the challenge coincides with day 1 of your vacation, there is a high chance that your muscles would be sore and you would be cursing me with every breath!

Here is what the squat challenge is all about:

Squat Challenge

Squat Challenge


There are different schools of thought on whether doing squats is good for the knees, and how many squats should you do? I personally like to challenge myself to a maximum of 150 squats a day in sets of 25. A word of advice – ensure that your form and posture are correct!

Walk around… needs no introduction

I really don’t need to harp on this one – we all know it, but are just too lazy when we are on a break. Walk a little …walk down the beach as you enjoy the sunset, take a walking tour to admire the historical sites or simply walk through bustling markets to soak in the culture. Wear comfortable shoes and suck your stomach in as you walk – a small work out in itself!

While exploring Petra, we walked for 20km plus in one day… the food tasted even yummier that day.

Walking through Petra: We walked over 20 km during the day!

Walking through Petra: We walked over 20 km during the day!

Engage in any activity… fun time!

There are a host of activities that will let you explore a new destination with a different perspective. Here are a few things that we enjoy:

  • Dance to the music…leave your drink for a few minutes and shake a leg
  • SCUBA diving… to enjoy colours underwater
  • Cycling trips… through lush green meadows
  • Hiking… to reach where motorised vehicles cannot
  • Kayaking… to look at the city from a mermaid’s perspective
Snorkelling with the whale shark at Maldives... calorie burning excitement!

Snorkelling with the whale shark at Maldives… calorie burning excitement!

Detox… with a picnic basket…

Every second day, I like to have at least one meal of fruits only to help me detox….just a little and to let me create room for the net couple of drinks!

Every region has delightful local produce. I have had the sweetest pineapples in Sri Lanka, the tastiest figs in Greece and the yummiest mangoes in India. Visit the local farmers’ market and fill yourself a picnic basket on fruits…as much as you like. Well ok, allow yourself a little cheese – it’s vacation time after all…and have a feast!

Local produce in Kerala, India

Local produce in Kerala, India


A fruit platter does the trick – cleanses your system, makes you feel light and rids you of the guilty feeling of sinning on calories.


You know your body best – do what suits you the best. Consult a fitness trainer/physiotherapist/medical professional, if needed. If you intend to try the squats or suryanamaskar, include it in your regular schedule to ensure that your muscles are accustomed to the stretches and there are no aches and pains during the vacation.

With just about a month left for our vacation, I intend to take on the squat challenge, starting next week. Let me do some ‘good deeds’ to make way for the sinful desserts that shall soon follow!

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