Tuesday 19 September 2017

How Not To Pile On The Travel Pounds

You know me. When it comes to temptation, my tried and true method of getting rid of it is, well, giving in. No matter that it’s taken me a year and a half of regular exercise to build all this muscle - place something delicious in front of me, and I’m going to devour it. This is especially true whenever I go on holiday, what with all the delectable and novel new dishes on offer. After all, I’ve travelled all the way there, the best way to more intimately learn about a new culture has to be through their food (of course) and I’ll never be able to enjoy anything quite like it back home (just think about how fresh the produce is at the source!)… Whatever the excuses are, the end result is the same – all thoughts of moderation just fly out the window.

As it turns out, I’m not alone in this. There’s science to back me up, like this TINZ study that shows 1 in 6 people admitting to a lack of willpower whenever they travel. If anything, that number’s probably too low, especially when you take into account all of us who’ve only managed the Eat part of Eat, Pray, Love. Hello, 1000 calorie slice of Italian pizza! You’ve got nothing on traditional Chinese meals, where indulgence is taken to the levels of fine art.

What then to do, when you’re surrounded by excess? Well, here are some tried and tested methods that I employed during my most recent holiday. I have to say they work, given the fact that I somehow returned home lighter than before in spite of our daily feasting:

Drink More Tea (And Less Booze)

Say it with me: Alcohol is empty calories. Beer is liquid bread.

We like tea, and were lucky enough to be visiting the home of a number of different styles of rather exquisite brews. Here, we took our tea the way it’s meant to be savoured - on its own, with its taste uncluttered with sugar, milk, or (heaven forbid!) the cheese foam that’s currently all the rage. Taken this way, we were able to benefit from the antioxidant catechins that are abundant in green and oolong teas.

You’ve probably heard about how green tea helps with your metabolism by making it easier for your liver to burn excess fat molecules and turn it into energy, and it turns out fermented black teas work similarly. Apparently, a study was performed quite recently where participants swapped out all their sugary drinks for unsweetened oolong, and lost an average of a pound a week over a month and a half. When we were getting our daily dose while on holiday, I definitely did feel much less bloated at the end of each day.

Go On A Walkabout

It’s so easy to just take a taxi or a bus between one tourist spot and the next, but I’ve always found exploring on foot a far more rewarding mode of getting around. Even in places where public transport is cheap, you’re so much more likely to miss out on amazing little nooks and crannies in the city you’re in. Whether you’re briskly walking to fully take in the sights and sounds and smells, or slowly ambling through little boutiques and side streets, walking really is the best way to get around somewhere new.

Walking for just 30 minutes a day has more health benefits than you may realise. From trimming your body fat to reducing your chances of chronic disease, it makes perfect sense to ditch the wheels and use your feet when on holiday. I always feel so much more comfortable after a good post-meal walk, and I usually find something extraordinary along the way.

Feed Your Wanderlust

Whether you’re doing it for the deep sense of satisfaction that comes from having sought and found, or for the #gooutside and #adventure ‘grams, there’s also something to be said for the physical benefits of taking part in outdoor activities away from major cities, where there are  magical and out-of-the-ordinary places that can only be reached if you really exert yourself.

Even if you’re normally a bit of a bum at home, like the eating, it’s easier to justify an uncharacteristic burst of activity when you’re out there exploring the world.

We spent two days scrambling up and down the sides of mountains all for the sake of magnificent waterfalls, historical tea plantations carved into sheer cliff faces, and stunning distant vistas that winked in and out of the clouds. The resulting sense of wonder was only eclipsed by the intense burning of my muscles from this workout like no other.

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