Friday, July 2, 2010

Wellness Wit and Wisdom

By Maureen Deutermann, MSN, R.N.
Director of Community Education

Did you know that taking a vacation may increase your life span? In a study of over 12,000 middle-aged men at risk for heart disease, those who did not take a regular vacation were more likely to die over a nine year period than those who did.

While vacations are potentially good for us, one aspect of vacationing that isn’t so healthy, particularly if that vacation happens to be a cruise is — you guessed it: weight gain! The average cruise-goer comes home relaxed, refreshed and eight pounds heavier. Land lubbers as well often take a vacation from healthy living when they head out of town. Lounging on the beach, eating boardwalk hot dogs, and sipping exotic cocktails can all add up…to extra pounds.

Unfortunately, a strange phenomenon occurs; the extra baggage we so easily put on is much tougher to take off! The obvious solution then, is to avoid the weight gain in the first place. Here’s how to enjoy vacation without having more than great memories when you get home!

Be prepared. This goes for both eating and activity. Pack healthy snacks and drinks. If you are going to be driving for any length of time, make sandwiches and have a picnic lunch at a rest stop instead of opting for the junk food drive through. The added advantage of this is affording one the opportunity to get out and walk around. Rest areas are usually pleasantly landscaped. On the other hand who wants to stroll around a McDonald’s parking lot?

Work fitness into your vacation plans, and get it over with early in the day. Stroll the beach, ride a bike, hit the exercise room or take a swim in the morning. Then spend the rest of the day with your well-deserved trashy novel guilt-free!

Ok, so you are on vacation after all, and a few indulgences are to be expected. But if you’re going to pay a visit to the local creamery, forego the bacon and egg breakfast. Vow to eat healthy for two meals out of three, or better yet, three meals out of three and then splurge on dessert.

People who exercise portion control are most successful in weight loss efforts. It’s also true that people who frequently take their meals in restaurants are more likely to be overweight. Why? Because restaurant food portions are often gargantuan compared to what we need to consume. When dining out, beware of this potential sabotage. Split an entrĂ©e, ask for half portion, or take half the meal home. If you’re really fanatical, ask to have half your meal boxed before it gets to the table. Now there’s determination for you!

Remember the creamery? If you must have the Double Dutch Chocolate Devil’s Delight, don’t let the devil talk you into the mega size. Vacations nourish our spirits. We remain in charge of nourishing our bodies, no matter where we are. Let’s be as good to our bodies as vacations are good for our souls!