A few years ago, when I traveled to France, I was amazed to discover that after two weeks I had lost almost 10 pounds! The crazy thing was, I didn’t diet. In fact, I never gave dieting a second thought. I was, after all, in the land of patisseries, fine wine and rich French cuisine. Nevertheless, I came home stronger, a little slimmer and feeling much more vibrant. This naturally got me thinking about how I live my life differently when I’m traveling. Here’s how I did it:
I had more sex!
Nothing like a good vacation to get you unhinged! Yes, fellow travelers, travel leads to more sex. If you don’t believe me, consider this: last year Expedia surveyed 31 million Brits who had been on holiday in the previous 12 months. They found that while a larger percentage felt more relaxed — understandably — a smaller percentage saw skin conditions improve, confidence boost, felt younger, more creative… and experienced a higher sex drive. And of course, more sex means more calories burned. In fact, an average of 4.2 calories a minute for men and 3.1 calories a minute for women.
I ate clean, whole foods every day
Clean eating means consuming healthy foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. When traveling I always pack healthy snacks before I leave. That way I’m not tempted to grab food on the go from gas stations or convenience stores when I’m feeling peckish. Even when you’re in the countryside, ask your concierge for directions to the local market. Grab some water, fruit, fresh veggies and nuts to snack on during your day. Healthy snacking during the day meant I didn’t have the urge to gorge at dinner.
I stuck to the local diet
Forget Big Macs — you just won’t find them in most European or Asian cities. Even if you do, why would you? Especially when the local diet is diverse and filled with so many tasty and wholesome foods. Back home it’s so easy to get caught up in fast food drudgery. Most of the time you don’t even enjoy what you’re eating. You’re just eating it to fill the void.
I drank plenty of water
Water is a no-brainer when traveling — it hydrates and keeps you energized throughout your day. When abroad, I sip it generously and I sip it often. If you’re traveling within the U.S., Canada or even Europe, bring a reusable water bottle and fill it frequently. However, if traveling throughout the rest of the world, stick to bottled water from a reputable source. I keep a large container of water in my hotel room and refill my reusable bottle often. It’s cheaper and causes far less environmental waste.
I kept alcohol to a minimum
Sure, your resort package comes with free drinks, but does that mean you must drink all day and night? I’m not a fan of waking up hungover on vacation; I’d prefer to spend my days sightseeing rather than throwing-up in questionable restrooms. If you can, keep the booze to a minimum. It could make the difference between losing or gaining weight on your vacation. However, if you love your bevies, keep well hydrated with water as you consume your alcohol throughout the night.
Staying hydrated is a great way to avoid those hangover blues. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning you’ll pee more than you normally do. That’s because alcohol suppresses the release of ADH (antidiuretic hormone), the hormone that regulates how much urine you produce, suggests a study from Yale University’s School of Medicine. In addition, try to avoid those 1,000-calorie mixed drinks, like pina coladas. However, if traveling where the water supply is a little iffy, stick with beer since it’s kept sterile and served in a sealed bottle.
I walked everywhere
I’m an avid researcher, but for whatever reason, I forgot to research the Paris subway system before our vacation. Subways are all the same right? So, as my husband and I stood bickering in front of the ticket machine, deciding where to insert the money, a young man approached and tried to explain how it all worked. Now more confused than ever, we thanked him for his help and then hightailed it back outside to street level. There, we proceeded to walk about five miles to our next destination. For the rest of our vacation, we walked around and around the city — from morning until night — until the day we departed, which probably accounted for about 80 percent of the weight loss.
I was constantly on the go
From the minute I left the hotel, I was on the go. When I travel, much of my day is spent fitting in as much as I possibly can. Traveling is like living each day to the fullest — something we can’t always afford to do at home. In fact, whether you’re traveling in Europe, Asia, South America, Africa or Australia, some of the coolest sights can only be reached via exercise. Whether it’s the famous Pére Lachaise cemetery in Paris or the BridgeClimb in Sydney, Australia, you can’t experience it unless you’re on foot.
I stressed much less
For most of us, stress is a factor of life. It’s also a factor that may contribute to weight gain. In fact, even if you normally eat well and exercise, chronic stress can prevent you from losing weight — and even add pounds! That’s because each time you’re stressed, cortisol (a hormone produced by the adrenal glands) is released into the bloodstream. Cortisol is helpful for suppressing inflammation, regulating blood pressure and maintaining a steady supply of blood sugar, giving you an energy boost to handle emergencies.
While this surge of cortisol doesn’t use many calories, it still communicates with your body to replenish that energy, making you hungry. Studies suggest that chronic high-level cortisol exposure may play a role in the maintenance of obesity. So, it goes without saying that the less stress you experience the fewer calories you’ll consume. Travel is not only good for the soul, but it also allows your body to unwind and destress.
Many people expect to gain weight while traveling, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re willing to let go of the junk food, walk a little more and maybe have a little more sex… you’ll probably come home a few pounds lighter.
— Katherine Marko