I just came back from the beautiful Langkawi island a few weeks ago. After years of traveling, I think it would be useful for me to share how I continue to eat right and train while on holiday. This is somewhat up to an individual’s preference; some people go on holidays purely to relax and would rather not be bothered by diet and training, but a handful of us would still want to stick to our diet and training regime. I absolutely do not judge you at all. I’ve let loose on holidays before too, because it can be nice to completely relax and not train. But if you do want to, below are some short tips you can try on your next holiday. (PS: This is not bodybuilding style but can be applied in general.) Keeping Your Diet In Check Before The Trip This is very important because I am sure you want to eat local food (usually sinfully tasty!) in the country you are visiting. First, avoid sugary foods like donuts and bubble tea, fried food like Old Chang Kee chicken wings and curry puffs, and reduce your carbs intake. Of course, start exercising for at least a month before your trip! Remember – training and diet go hand in hand. Let the holiday be like epic cheat days for you so you can eat in peace because you worked hard for it. On the plus side, you’ll look good on the beach if you keep your diet in check before your holiday.
Choose A Hotel Near A Supermarket This is very important because you can save a lot by buying eggs and oatmeal for breakfast rather than opting for the hotel breakfast. You can also get healthy snacks like nuts and dark chocolates, which I will cover below shortly. Every hotel/motel will have a kettle and bowls. If you live in a villa, all the more you’ll need a supermarket nearby. You can cook like a boss!
Choose A Hotel Which Has A Decent Gym Or A Gym Nearby Make sure you take a look at what gym equipment is available so you can plan what to train when you are in that gym. Most hotel gyms are decent enough for a simple workout. You simply can’t expect more. If there’s no gym, you can swim in the hotel pool (if available). For a sample workout, check out my other article: http://amirrudinong.com/training-and-dieting-during-reservist/
Research On Local Food This is extremely important because the bulk of your diet will be local food. E.g. in Thailand, I would look for street food and buy 4 barbecued chicken thighs to last the whole day if I am not going anywhere. Always look for solid food for your main diet. Not forgetting fresh coconut water!
Choose Food Wisely You will be relaxing all the time. Hence, you will be eating unless you are going for a hike, sightseeing etc. I know there can be a lot of irresistible food to try so I would suggest eating it once or twice but not every day when you are there. E.g. Phuket pancake – their version of our roti prata. If there’s only fried, oily food available or food you don’t like, go for fruits. You will never go wrong. Eat wholesome fruits and try the ones you don’t usually see in Singapore!
Bring Along Fish Oil And Digestive Enzymes Due to the change in humidity, climate, temperature, air quality, food consumption etc, our bodies tend to react differently. Like how the smell and texture of your stool differ when you’re in a different country. So why do you need fish oil? Fish oil is vital because in my experience, it helps prevent constipation. It makes the stool smoother. And why digestive enzymes? As you will be eating foreign food which can be equally foreign for your stomach, digestive enzymes make it easier for your stomach to break food down. It also helps your body to function normally. I know some doctors who disapprove of digestive enzymes if your stomach is working properly but this is really subjective. You can Google more about this.
Bring Your Protein Powder And Healthy Snacks Along You need these especially if you are going hiking, canoeing, trekking or exploring on a tour. Usually on a tour, they only provide lunch. Healthy snacks like cashews and almonds will come in handy. A protein shake or two can fill your stomach during those hours. You will also need a protein shake right after your workout. You can pack protein powder into ziplock bags or in a small tub. Protein bars are a good choice too. Maybe not for water activities though, your bars might get soggy.
One more thing to note is customs – at airport security, they might question or even test your protein powder. It happened to me when I was at the US customs. Just stay calm. You know you’ve got no cocaine in there.
Go For A Slow Jog In The Morning This is what I usually do when my wife is still in bed sleeping. I still remember when I ran in the morning in Hong Kong and bought her breakfast along the way. Usually, I will be running along the beach. How long should you run? A very slow jog of 30-40 minutes is good enough. Running helps keep your cardiovascular health in check so you won’t feel like you are back to square one when you get back to regular training.
Bottom line, enjoy your holiday trip and there’s no need to feel guilty. Just try your best to keep training and keep your diet in check. If you slip up, don’t worry, you’ve got lots of days to train and diet when you are back in Singapore. I wish you well, be happy on your next trip!
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Your Coach, Amirrudin Ong