How to Stay Healthy on Holiday
by Justine Glenton
An Ashtanga & Zen Yoga Teacher
It's difficult enough to stay healthy and fit while travelling, but being out and about during the holidays sometimes make things even more complicated. Rich foods and drinks, lack of exercise and lots of stress can take a toll on your health. To avoid paying for it later on, it's important to take a few steps to remain healthy during the hectic holiday times. Simple but applicable things to remember are to get enough sleep. The holidays are often hectic and trying to combine that with flights or lengthy road trips usually ends up with you being sleep-deprived. Lack of sleep can make you overeat, cause dizziness, make you sluggish and affect your mood. Aim for six to nine hours a night and take a short nap in the afternoon if you need it. If you're short on sleep, try to rest while on the plane or in the passenger's seat of the car.
Find ways to deal with stress. If spending 24 hours with the family is too much, make some time for yourself and take a yoga class or treat yourself to a massage. If neither is available find a quiet space and allow your body to do any yoga poses that it feels inclined to do - we call this: spontaneous yoga. If you're religious or like to meditate, find places where you can pray or be alone for a few minutes each day, whether it's a temple or a quiet park.
Remain active. If you're staying in a hotel, use the swimming pool or the exercise room. If you're vacationing in warmer climates, take a lengthy walk on the beach or go for a jog early in the morning.
Eat a healthful breakfast. Once you arrive at your destination and start celebrating, chances are you won't be paying much attention to your meals, so make sure you eat well while you're travelling to and from your destination. Oatmeal with skim milk, eggs with a piece of fruit or a yogurt are all light, healthy options that will keep your body in tune and working effectively. Beware of the holiday cheer. Many hotels offer complimentary champagne, snacks or holiday cakes or cookies during the holidays. If you're attending events, you may also be served high-calorie holiday food. Having a bite or a sip is fine, but save the bulk of your calories for the big meals with your loved ones.
Always keep hydrated and drink lots of water, especially if you'll be flying. Spending long hours in a plane full of passengers with the re-cycled air conditioning can result in disaster and ruin your holiday plans. Carry a large bottle of water with you to have throughout the flight, and take some vitamin C or a multivitamin to keep your defences high. I like to inhale tea tree oil every so often during a flight that I put on a handkerchief prior to.
If you’re staying by the sea, eat lots of fresh grilled fish. Oily fish - including sardines, fresh tuna, salmon and mackerel - is particularly good as it’s rich in Omega 3, which keeps your skin hydrated and encourages healthy digestion as well as weight loss. Try to eat a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables – oranges, red peppers, green courgettes, yellow sweet corn - to get a wide range of antioxidants.
Lying in the sun feels great but you only need 10 minutes of unprotected sunshine to get your daily dose of vitamin D. After that you should use sunblock. As we get older, the collagen in our skin breaks down more rapidly, leading to lines, wrinkles and discolouring. To prevent the breaking down of collagen, eat lots of purple fruits, such as fresh blackberries, blueberries and black grapes. One study showed that eating tomatoes reduces your risk of turning red in the sun so have a glass of tomato juice - though it’s much safer to use sunblock!
Three yoga poses a day can be your main stay:
'Matsyasasa' - to prevent all disease from the body.
A shoulder stand - Salamba sarvangasa - to cool and calm the system, give your heart a rest and find a different perspective. Sometimes called the candle pose or Queen pose, the shoulder stand translated from the Sanskrit name is “all limbed” or “whole body.” Its name comes from the many roles it plays and benefits it provides to the entire body.
Marichasana - Massages abdominal organs, including the liver and kidney, stretches the shoulder, stimulates the brain, relieves mild backache and hip pain, strengthens and stretches the spine.