Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tips for family travel: a collaboration with Kendra Thornton

I once read that health is the greatest wealth.  I internalized this saying.  If I do not have my health, nothing else matters.   When I am on vacation, I have to try with every fiber of my being to make wise choices concerning my health.  Speaking of fiber, eat plenty of it.  Aim for 25 to 30 grams a day.  Most Americans do not eat enough fiber, especially while on vacation.


1. Always carry snacks.  Be proactive. 

I carry almonds and other healthy snacks in my purse so that I can eat on my own terms.  As I rode on a bus through Switzerland last summer, I was able to soothe my hunger pangs with oatmeal cookies I packed in my bag.  I had no control over when and where the bus driver would stop, but I took a proactive role in curbing my appetite by carrying snacks with me at all times.

When the bus finally stopped at a Swiss restaurant, I was able to eat small portions of food because I did not feel famished. 

2. If you indulge, indulge wisely.  Think small.

If you must eat a sugar-laden dessert, eat small portions.

I hesitate to admit that when I am on vacation, I like to indulge my sweet tooth from time to time.  I make wise choices if I decide to eat sweets.  For example, I order a small chocolate shake instead of a medium or large.  Also, I always share my dessert with someone or I simply eat half of it.

If you are craving sweets, the better choice, of course, is to eat fruit instead of something that is replete with sugar.

3. Stock up and be proactive.

If I stay in a hotel, I go to the grocery store and stock up on water bottles, fruits, and yogurt.  By the same taken, even if I stay with family, I stock up on healthy foods that I need to eat.  My family members understand that I am a picky eater.  Because they love me, they are okay with that.    


4. Stay hydrated no matter what.

I once became severely dehydrated at Six Flags over Texas.  In mid-July.  IN TEXAS.  IN MID-JULY.  Time slipped away from me.  My primary concern was getting in line for the Superman Tower of Power as often as I could.  I forgot that I was sizzling in the sun.  My sister, a nurse at the time, saved my life. 

I vowed from then on to stay hydrated.  Always carry water bottles.  Make it a point to drink water regularly no matter what.

5. Walk around and explore.

I took speed walking in college for a physical education credit.  Yes, I earned an A.  I felt so much better after just 20 minutes of walking around campus. 

While on vacation, take the time to walk around and explore your surroundings.  You might not realize that you are exercising.  Who knows if you will ever return?  Be adventurous.


Remember that you are your own best nutritionist and your own best doctor.  You decide what you put in your body.

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Family Travel and Fun with Fitness
By Kendra Thornton
My family usually sticks to healthy habits. All my kids are active and enjoy sports. At home, I pack healthy snacks for them to enjoy at school, and we regularly share healthy meals together. When we go on vacation, it isn’t as easy to stick to a healthy routine, but I’ve found some tricks that help us stay healthy no matter where our journeys take us. I’ve shared these tips and tricks with my extended family who will be visiting us in Chicago in a few weeks.
1. Drink Plenty of Water
Never limit the amount of water your family drinks when on vacation. A few extra bathroom breaks aren’t nearly as inconvenient as the discomfort and dangers of dehydration. This is especially true when traveling on hot days or spending time outdoors in the sunlight. My family always takes along personal water bottles. On especially warm days, I often freeze the full bottles before we head out.
2. Eat Right When Eating Out
Eating out is a necessity on vacation. I like to use the same guidelines when on vacation that I use when eating out near home. I research to find restaurants that serve locally produced ingredients. I also try to find places that offer healthy menu options. Places that serve Mediterranean cuisine or offer vegetarian options are great places to eat.
3. Play for Fun and Exercise
Play together as a family. This is important all the time, and on vacation it can help your family get necessary exercise. Have races and competitions to help everyone stay active. My family likes to play together at the hotel pool. We’ll compete to see who can swim underwater the longest or who can swim across the pool the fastest. We even have splashing contests with one another.
4. Use Hotel Amenities
Many hotels offer fitness amenities. I like to learn about these amenities before booking my stay. As a family, we try to always stay at hotels with nice fitness facilities. Staying in a hotel right in downtown Chicago doesn’t only offer my family great gym facilities to choose from many of the hotels are close to all the sites!
You have to be intentional about keeping your family fit and healthy. When you make a point of keeping to a healthy routine on vacation, everyone will have a better time. I hope you find my special tricks helpful the next time you take a family trip.

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