Every year, people become excited to go on a summer vacation but most of them worry about the likelihood of gaining a few pounds while they are away from their normal routine. It does not have to be that way!
Last year, during a 10-day summer vacation, I actually lost 2 pounds without really trying to lose weight. It surprised me as much as it is probably surprising you while you read this; up until then I didn’t know a single family member or friend who had actually lost weight on vacation. To me, it was simply impossible unless you consciously went on vacation with the intent to have a miserable time while you helplessly watched your family indulge themselves every day. What? Celery sticks on vacay? Are you nuts?
So, how do you not gain weight on vacation?
Here’s how I lost weight without really trying:
- I picked a hotel with fitness amenities. It’s difficult to find a hotel with a full gym but if you conduct a decent search, you can at least find one with a workout room. The hotel I went to had a full rack of dumbbells up to 50 lbs., an elliptical machine, a recumbent cardio bike, and a complimentary towel! The room was only 700 square feet or so, but do you know what? While on vacation, I worked out every single morning at 8:00 A.M. for just 30 minutes and except on a rare occasion, I was the only one in the room. What does that tell you? People simply do not make it a point to work out during their vacation.
- I kept my drinking to a minimum. Instead of the usual umbrella drinks, I opted for Bacardi and Diet Coke on the 2 days out of the 10 that I drank alcohol. When I am trying to lose weight at home, I simply cannot shed any pounds unless I cut out alcohol entirely. So it makes sense that abstaining from alcohol or at least limiting it will prevent me from gaining any pounds while I’m enjoying my vacation.
- I stayed active. If I would have stayed in the hotel room the whole time and only went out to eat a restaurant, I would have gained 5 pounds. Instead, I planned activities daily and tuck to the plan! Snorkeling one day, swimming poolside the next, fishing another day, sightseeing; it all adds up to being active and burning calories without trying.
- I avoided high carb foods. Baked potatoes were out the window! About the only carbs I would eat throughout the day were the two whole wheat toast I would have almost every morning with egg whites and a cup of coffee. When we ate at a restaurant, my lunches would consist of a protein source such as chicken or fish coupled with green beans or asparagus. On one occasion I ate a sweet potato without butter and that was splurging for me! If I got hungry in between meals, I always kept fresh Boar’s Head Meats and non-fat American cheese in the miniature hotel refrigerator and I would eat roll-ups.
That’s it! Although I didn’t thoroughly enjoy just about every single meal like I normally would, the end result was that I lost two pounds during vacation. And I had a great time!
It takes a little bit of work for parents these days to be able to keep their children entertained while they are taking long road trips with kids. I remember when I was a child, the only entertainment provided for me on those long trips was my own imagination. I would bring nothing more than a couple of pillows, a transistor radio with headphones, and a couple of books.
You see, back in those days, just about the only entertainment we had in the form of video games was the Atari tennis game with two blips on the opposite sides of the screen that would challenge each other as they chased another little blip that appeared to be a tennis ball. However, the only way to play this game was on a TV screen!
Today, children have so many gadgets at their disposal that they have become a little spoiled when it comes to enjoying the simplest of things. This, in turn, makes it much more difficult for parents to keep their children entertained when they’re taking these long trips.
Here are 5 road trip games for kids to make sure your kids stay distracted and have fun at the same time, so they don’t start saying, “Are we there yet,” 30 minutes into the trip:
1. Make certain your child brings his or her favorite music gadget with earphones. This way, while you are cranking the 70s hits on Sirius satellite radio and singing along to Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing,’ they will be in their own world listening to Beyoncé and Justin Bieber.
2. If you have a smart phone, you may want to allow them to download it to particular app games; Plants Versus Zombies and Angry Birds. These are the hottest free games for children as we speak. If you are lucky, these video games all alone will take up two or three hours of their trip before they get tired. Alternatively, they can also use your phone to listen to the free Pandora or iHeartRadio.
3. Pillows, blankets and books. Take their favorite pillows and blankets so they can feel as comfortable as possible. If you are like me and like to crank the AC on a hot sunny day, be mindful of your kids being a little too cold in the backseat. They will be able to easily cover themselves and feel comfortable while they read their favorite book. If they are tired, give them an incentive to rest and fall asleep. Tell them if they close their eyes and snooze for more than 30 minutes, they will get an extra special treat at the next rest stop.
4. Bribe them with toys. Some parents will disagree with this one but it works. Kids have shorter attention spans the they tire far more easily than adults do. Be realistic and anticipate your children getting tired of the drive. Sometimes they will start misbehaving and instead of magically making your arm stretch out 10 feet behind you and giving them a whack on the behind, let them know if they behave, you may spring for a treat and a little toy at the next rest area. Their new toy will hopefully take at least thirty minutes of their time.
5. Sing songs together. Better yet, have them change the words to their favorite songs. For example, instead of singing “Hey There Delilah” just the other day I sang “Hey there Yo Mama” and my kids couldn’t stop laughing and it got the ball rolling, big time! Seventies songs are great for this because many songs had descriptive titles. Think of “Rock the Boat” and sing “Rock the Goat” instead. You get the idea. Whomever comes up with the best lyrics or title gets an extra special treat. This game will last about 30 minutes but you will be busting a gut when it’s over. This will accomplish two things; you will be far more alert while driving and your kids will probably take a nap shortly thereafter.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning to allow your children to watch movies on a DVD player when you take long trips. Even if your vehicle doesn’t have a video/TV screen you may want to consider a long term investment in a good DVD player that you can plug into your cigarette lighter and mount in your car or strap behind your seat. Don’t forget to bring the popcorn!
Family road trips were made for fun. If your kids get a little out of hand and fussy, maintain your composure and remember why you are taking the trip in the first place; to spend quality family time and to create lasting memories.
The last thing you want your kids to remember is how you flew off the handle and spanked their hind ends while pulling your hair out as you waited in line for your Starbucks coffee!
Every year when summertime is around the corner, I can’t help flooding my mind with cherished memories of my dad taking all of us on our yearly one-week vacation to the Florida Keys, his favorite place. My father was a certified workaholic whose sole mission in life was to work for his wife and children so he could provide us with everything we ever wanted, including the best family vacations. He succeeded.
While other parents enjoyed taking their kids to Disney World, he loved leading us to that gorgeous wonderland at the southernmost tip of Florida and always said those of us who lived in South Florida had paradise in our own backyards. We had the best family vacations and created so many beautiful family memories in Marathon Key, FL and I have always remembered the hotel we always stayed in; the Continental Inn. My father would always get us a poolside room there and we were sure to have a suite-type room complete with a kitchen and a living and dining room.
We would wake up early and fish off the hotel jetty on the south side, catch mangrove snapper using live shrimp, and we would quickly run the freshly caught fish straight to my mom where she would fillet them and fry them right there on the spot! Talk about fresh fish! Once we got tired of fishing, we would jump in the pool and stay there for hours. At night you would find our family chowing down at one of the area restaurants in Marathon unless my mom was in the mood to cook a seafood dish.
Looking back, my father found one great spot we all liked and made it our own. It was almost as if we owned a little chunk of the Florida Keys and we looked forward every year to our one-week getaway, never to be disappointed with the choice.
Creating lasting memories for your family is one of the most important facets of living a fulfilling life. The special times you share today will become such a huge part of your kid’s lives that they will carry with joy and pride forever. Kids never forget these kinds of moments in their lives, even when they are well into adulthood. I’m in my 50’s and it feels like it was yesterday when I was fishing off the jetty for hours on end at the age of 12 while Dad was sitting under a beach umbrella, smoking his Marlboro’s and listening to the latest music from Three Dog Night and Blood, Sweat, and Tears.
My greatest memory of these family vacations is that they made us all stop and come together, strengthening an already-powerful family bond beyond belief, year after year.
My father passed away recently and at the wake, we showed a beautiful array of slides on a TV monitor with pictures mostly from our family vacations in the Florida Keys. Dad was smiling from ear to ear in almost every picture and I was beaming with pride as I explained what we were doing in each slide to friends and family members who were curious to know.
These days, I smile from ear to ear every single time we enter Key Largo, FL as we make our way down to Marathon Key. Nothing has changed much and the Continental Inn looks almost the same as it did 40 years ago with the exception of upkeep and a few upgrades. I’m trying my best to create the same lasting memories for my kids but I don’t really have to try that hard. In the Florida Keys, creating memories becomes almost effortless!