The Lighter Side of Travel
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The Lighter Side of Travel

Staying Fit While on Vacation
Or: Do Calories Count If You Eat Them In Another Country?

Staff writer

For those of you who still want to maintain your exercise regime whilst in a faraway land (or just vacationing for a week or two on the Jersey shore) this column's for you. For those of you who don't give hoot or a holler about keeping your derrière trim and would rather spend time eating KFC than going to the GYM, keep eating your Cheesy-Poofs and read this anyway, what the hell—you're here now.

All right, here's the scoop: it's easier to stay in shape while you're away, if you do a little re-con work first (that's short for reconnaissance mission, which is long for homework). Call ahead of time to see where the gyms are and ask about their policies for out of town guests. (Granted, if you're going to a remote island, chances are the gym might be a few large vines, so it's always good to think of alternate forms of exercise. Walking or running are good ways to get an aerobic workout, and can be done almost anywhere. Skipping is a also an excellent aerobic workout, however, most people can't get by the "looking goony" factor to do it.

Arguably, one of the hardest place to watch your waistline is on a cruise ship. Because let's face it, they serve a meal, what? Every 15 seconds? There's a continental breakfast, then the real breakfast, the buffet before lunch, then lunch, the snack after lunch, the buffet before dinner, then dinner, the pastry and ice cream affair after dinner and then the illustrious midnight buffet. Unless you're wearing drawstring pants or a muumuu with pleats, you won't be able to move after all those meals.

Here's a simple behavioral solution: don't eat all the meals! Why not do something radical and just have three meals a day instead of 30? Remember, and repeat this to yourself as many times as necessary: I Will Eat Again. I Will Eat Again. I Will Eat Again! There's something about being on a cruise ship that makes you think if, for some reason, you miss a meal, you may just starve to death and never see food again! It's absurd, but I've done it myself. One time I didn't go to the midnight buffet because I was practicing what I preach, and I had anxiety all night thinking about it: What about that 4-foot chocolate tarpon? And the swan made entirely out of chicken liver? I'm missing all that! And this was my last chance to eat before breakfast! What if I starve? Breakfast is almost 5 hours away!!

Then of course, there's trying to exercise in a foreign country, where you don't know what the heck lies around the next corner. So, if you're going jogging, bring a companion. Bringing someone along is also good if you get lost and can't find your way back to the hotel; this way, if you take a friend, you can blame each other.

Most hotels have at least some sort of exercise room. However, most of them are usually pretty lame. If you are staying in a hotel that doesn't have an exercise facility, try using common objects in your room to exercise with. You can do "behind the head tricep bends" with that Gideon's Bible that's always in the drawer. The weight is just right to get a couple of good sets in and healthiness in next to godliness. The phone book works good to put on your chest while you're doing sit-ups. If you're really motivated, throw the Yellow Pages on top of that. Then call someone and tell them how good you feel!

Also, wherever you are, try taking the stairs whenever possible (unless of course, you're visiting the Empire State Building or the Eiffel Tower).

Lastly, watch your calories. Remember, calories eaten on vacation DO count. Even if you stand up while you're eating over the sink in Helsinki.


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