Monday 20 November 2017

Use your holidays to get in even better shape

Follow these simple tips and you'll return from your break fitter than when you went

Amanda Gannon

Summer holidays are upon us, so how do we leverage all those arduous months of marathon training into looking our best at the beach?

 Plus, how do we make sure that we don't break our healthy eating and exercise routines during a spell in the sunshine when the temptation will be to eat and drink like there is no tomorrow?

Not everyone who trains for a marathon achieves an automatic weight loss. Increased energy needs and lean muscle tissue can mean that despite the extra exercise, the dial on the scales remains stubbornly immobile.

Yet you will surely have noticed other great benefits such as in muscle tone, flexibility and joint mobility.

Mood enhancement, better quality sleep, and increased energy also often result from long months of training.

Fortunately, months of mini-marathon training will doubtless have resulted in toned legs and a notably improved cellulite situation, thanks to endless bottles of water and increased blood flow to problem areas.

So rather than packing away these nice new benefits in baggy clothes, let's try and build on them. You may even return from your summer holidays in better shape than you left.

When you arrive at your holiday destination and are looking at the hotel bar, you'll probably come over all Carrie Bradshaw and be thinking about your first cocktail in the sun. Except no, don't do it.

Ban the merest notion of these from your mind in the best interests of your sun lounger next morning. That 10oz Pina Colada typically contains the same 560 K/ calories to be found in a 12-inch pepperoni pizza.

What to do? Well white wine spritzers and rum and Diet Coke come out tops in the low-cal alcohol league.

They also look equally pretty with a cherry and a paper umbrella while doing half the harm to your waistline.

But I'm on holidays, you cry. Indeed. We are, however, trying here to avoid returning to Ireland with an overweight baggage problem -- and not of the Ryanair variety.

The problem with being out of your daily routine is that there is simply more time to eat. I think it's best to begin your day with a decent breakfast, maybe cereal and some brown bread.

Avoid lingering too long at the buffet table and grab some extra fruit to snack on during the day.

Stick to salads at lunchtime, which are often delicious in warm countries, and choose fresh local produce, such as fish and vegetables at dinner.

Hit the swimming pool some time after breakfast. Swimming burns roughly 150 calories per half hour. Aqua aerobics is also great. You can try underwater jumping jacks, leg kicks and cycles while holding on to the poolside.

Many resorts now have jogging tracks where you can reprise your mini-marathon glory days. Alternately, an hour of tennis will burn off 400 to 500 calories. Recent exercise research appears to be advocating the "short sharp bursts of activity" approach. Something like running up the stairs several times a day works well.

Indeed, two weeks without a car can be great, and walking tours are a very pleasant way to work off lunch.

Activity holidays are growing very popular with my clients as a way of maintaining their weight loss and fitness while away. Hill-walking, yoga and spa holidays are all increasing in popularity, and for good reason.

Cruise ships by contrast, with their emphasis on all-you-can-eat buffet fare, and confined spaces are probably best avoided.

With a little thought and planning, it really is possible to have a great holiday without piling on the pounds.

Do remember to pack plenty of sunscreen, get lots of quality sleep, especially for you young mums, and give yourself a pat on the back for keeping up your marathon fitness instead of giving in and sitting on the sofa watching soaps.

Amanda Gannon has been a personal trainer for over 20 years. She owns The Personal Training Company which specialises in one-to-one fitness and weight-loss classes. For more information, log on to

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