By Cat Perry
This is the panorama you'll see if you're lucky enough to have just finished the Reggae Marathon in Negril, Jamaica. It's December there. And your friends scrolling your Instagram and Twitter feeds are jealous in more ways than one.
Sure, you started this run before the roosters had even bothered to wake up because, as you now know well, temperatures climb toward Dubai-like heat (but more humid, of course) by 6:30 am. But good job! You're done and all that awaits is an hour or two on the still-cool beach, on buttery soft sand, overlooking the Caribbean seas. Plus, depend on whether you finished the 26.2 miles or opted for a shoter distance, and your body's metabolism, you've burned 500+ calories in a few hours. Does life get any sweeter than moments like this? Sip from this hydrating coconut, heart rate still circling back down to normal, and tell me later.
If you've never traveled for a fitness event, consider yourself missing out. Sure vacations are usually designed to be a mental reset, a two-weeklong cheat day. To quietly forget all the dietary and social rules you've ever learned in your life and indulge at every turn of the clock hands. But guess what? You can pack on two pounds a week if consuming an extra 1,000 calories in a day (that's just two or three sugary cocktails, actually); one pound/week with an extra 500 cals/day. Yet can have your cake and eat it (and not feel guilty later) if you just challenge yourself with physical feats while on vacation.
Think about it. A vacation scenario like the one above will only leave you feeling like crap, like you did something wrong when the scale starts to tick higher once you're back home. Not to mention that sitting around all day can get tiresome in itself. Sure, I'll have another Mai Tai...after I'm done burning my backside and napping. What did I see on vacation? Oh, you know, the pool and patio of a really really expensive hotel....
Instead throw in daily laps in the ocean for cardio conditioning and to burn up that last Manhattan or Daquiri. Sunset Power Yoga on the beach. Or hit the weights each AM to reap the metabolism boosting effects of weight training, and you be getting fitter rather than fatter, like most, in paradise. You're a superhero now—that's how to make your friends jealous of your willpower-fueled vacationing prowess. Plus you won't have to hit the gym extra hard when you get back—no one wants to do that.
So try this instead. Wherever you're going on your next adventure, look up running races, local park classes, gyms, or other fitness events or gear outfitters to see what healthy opportunities you can add to your list of must-see-and-do's, then see how much it adds to your vacation to know that you're taking care of yourself just as much as you're letting yourself have fun. Balance brings out your very best. And any amount of fitness while on vacation will bring more balance than you thought possible on your getaway, to an actually better self.