Nutrition and exercise can be a part of your vacation

workout on vacation, vacation workout, nutrition on vacationLounging at the pool, a tall sweet beverage at your side, the last thing on your mind probably is staying in shape. After all, nutrition and exercise involve work, right? And wasn’t work what you’re escaping from for a week?

Turns out those activities can co-exist. So says Dr. Zach Paul. Paul and two colleagues serve patients at Brookfield Chiropractic in Brookfield, Wis. He explains that the proper regimen before, during and after a trip can help keep that vacation enjoyable.

A big issue with vacationers, Paul says, is simply overeating. “When we over-eat, our digestion system is already on overload,” he says. While in another country, “you’re introducing basically a whole new culture into your body.” Spices and herbs can effect travelers not accustomed to those foods. Couple that with quantities of alcohol typically consumed while on vacation, and digestion issues arise.

Though a doctor of chiropractic, Paul’s background is quite varied. He has undergraduate degrees in human biology and life science. Paul is a certified chiropractic sports physician and Level 1 CrossFit trainer. And he holds state certification in nutritional consulting, and has taught college courses in a variety of health-related topics. As a result of this training and experience, Paul emphasizes whole-body care, including nutrition and exercise.

Prepping for your vacation starts with supplements and probiotics. “Probiotics are types of supplements that basically help you, give you the good bugs for your digestion tract,” he explains. Pack those, along with any other supplements or multi-vitamins you are taking. They may not be available on the ship or at the resort.

Stay in shape while on vacation

Exercising while on vacation doesn’t have to involved fancy equipment and an exercise room (though those are useful if available). Indeed, you can incorporate at least one activity, walking, into any vacation you take. Paul cautions that some exercises are age-dependent. A younger, more active body can withstand compression better than an older one. Consult your doctor for any further advice.

Also be careful about increasing your exercising.  At least initially, hold to the 10% rule: Increase only by about 10% above your routine. And stop if any activity causes pain. “Don’t ruin your vacation by exercising; you don’t need to get injured,” Paul says.

The following exercises are free, easy to do, and can be performed just about anywhere.

Walking: “Walking is huge,” Paul says. It’s already a part of your vacation, because you’re on the go anyway, right? (At least most of the time.) In addition to helping you burn calories, walking is good for the spine. “The body needs motion; it needs movement,” Paul explains. “One of the worst things you can do on your vacation is not move.”

Instead of calculating distances, Paul suggests timing your walks: 15-20 minutes is a good start. The key with any exercise is to be careful of extending yourself. Paul says that if you have a desk job but suddenly start walking 4 to 5 hours a day while on vacation, “you’re going to pay for that.”

It doesn’t matter where or why you’re walking. Taking a cruise? You’ll walk a lot just getting from one room to another. Excursions and sight-seeing trips also involve walking. And they offer a double bonus: you experience something new and get in some exercise.

Jumping rope: Great cardiovascular workout. For a real challenge, try a “double-under.” With each jump, try to get the rope to swing under you two times. “If you do that for about 10 minutes, you have yourself a pretty significant workout,” Paul says.

Sit-ups: Good exercise as long as your spine can take the bending.

Planks: Hold yourself in the extended (push-up) position and time yourself.  Strive for 15-30 second each rep, and keep your abdominal muscles tight for maximum benefit.

Burpees: You go from a standing position to the floor to do a push-up, then jump up. Repeat. Younger and more experienced will do these must faster. Take your time if you’re older. The key is to go through the various steps. Done well, these are very effective, because they get the heart rate going, Paul says.

As for reps, Paul says it’s difficult to offer a generalization. Exercising is personalized; everyone is in a different physical condition and experience level. For starters, he suggests 3 reps of 10.

Simple stretching exercises reduce stress throughout your day

Nutrition tips for your vacation

Can watching what you eat really be enjoyable (or at least tolerable)? Absolutely, Paul says. He suggests you “pick your moments.” Because your metabolism is higher during the day, Paul recommends consuming the majority of your calories during the day. Cut back at night.

Enjoy those snacks or dessert, but during lunchtime. Schedule a nutritious meal on occasion, making sure you consume fruits and vegetables. “One thing we know about fruits and vegetables, regardless of where we’re at, [is] they provide your body with so many healthy things.”

One practice Paul would like to dispense with is calorie counting. He’s not against it, per se; jussgt need to put it in perspective. “If we consume a thousand calories of broccoli and we consume a thousand calories of Skittles,”  he asks, “is that going to have the same impact on the body? The answer is, absolutely not.”

Calorie counting is a “piece of the pie” (no pun intended!), Paul says, but should not be a person’s only focus. You must consider the source of the calories. In the example above, broccoli offers much more nutritional value than does candy.  “[Calorie counting] may be effective from a vacation standpoint, but it’s not effective to go beyond that.”

He notes that vacationers tend to consume foods high in refined sugar. Refined sugar affects the body from both a nutritional and energy standpoint. Watch for starch, too. You’ll find that in corn, potatoes and rice, for example. A solution is to include fruits and vegetables with every meal. “Then, you’ll feel full faster, and ultimately, you won’t have that tendency to over indulge,” he says. Bottom line: “Get off the refined sugar!”

Once home, ease your way back into your regular diet. “If you give your body too much, initially,” Paul says, “it’ll be a stress on your system.” Continue with your probiotics and vitamin supplements (if taken). Consume smaller portions during those first few days, and spread out the meals. Doing so will ensure your digestion system isn’t overloaded and that you can maintain your energy levels throughout the day.

As you board that jet for 8 days of blissful relaxation, remember that you can have your cake and eat it, too. Just do so during lunch. Then take a nice long stroll down the beach.

Do you have some tips for enjoying a healthy vacation? Feel free to comment below. And if you found value in this post, please share it with others. You may use any of the buttons below.
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Tom Fuszard
New Berlin, Wisconsin

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A weekend getaway in the happy hills

Darkness greeted me as a I stepped outside the cabin. It was about 6:10 on a November morning. The thermometer read 25 degrees–not bad for this time of year–and the air was calm. I stepped off the porch, loaded my rifle and walked away. The 2015 deer gun season was under way.

Save for the rifle, blaze orange hunting suit, and the unusually early wake-up call, this could have been any other weekend at the cabin. What began as a location for hunting has evolved into my escape hatch for solace and relaxation. With some work thrown in for good measure.

See also “Extended weekend getaway refreshes for less.”

weekend getaway, get away for the weekend, weekend escapeMy parents purchased 42 acres of mostly wooded land in April 1981. The property, located in Vernon County in southwest Wisconsin, affords us some nice hills for hiking and exercise. Set back almost 1/4 mile from the road, we enjoy a measure of privacy, though two other families have cabins nearby. Our simple cabin, built in the mid 1980s, provides a comfortable roof over the head and nearly all the amenities of home.

I live clear across the state in the Milwaukee area. Our cabin is more than three hours away, so I often make a pit stop at the family’s house in Madison. From there it’s about a two-hour drive.

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Pack light for a more enjoyable adventure

One of the issues that confounds travelers is what to pack. Vacations of seven days or more can be really challenging. Each time we view a garment or other item, we ask ourselves, should I take it? We worry whether the suitcase will meet the weight restriction at the airport.

I have written about packing, focusing mainly on items I found useful in my vacations. I still stand behind the suggestions, but notice that some suggestions are better suited to those staying in one place for a week or more. What if you’re seeing several destinations for just a day or two each? You need to pack lighter so you can be mobile.

pack light, tips for packing light, how to pack lightThis concept hit home while viewing an episode of Rick Steeves’ Europe TV show. The episode in particular, “European Travel Skills, Part 2,” aired recently on public television (though it first aired in December 2012). Steeves offers several useful tips during this episode, one of which pertains to packing. (Incidentally, the entire three-part series is very informative. Watch it if you can.)

Steeves, as you’ll know from watching the program, visits several sites during each episode. As such, he’s constantly on the go. During this segment he implores viewers to pack for mobile traveling.

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Kickapoo Valley Reserve offers great escape

Sometimes I like to get away even when I am away. Such was the case this past Sunday. I was at our cabin, located near Yuba, Wis., and decided to take off for a day. I had spent most of Saturday working (mowing and other chores), and just needed a break.

I have wanted to visit the Kickapoo Valley Reserve for sometime. It’s nearby–only about 30 minutes from the cabin–and has a bit of history behind it. (More on that shortly.) Even better, the Reserve offers thousands of acres of pubic land that one can escape to. So I did.

kickapoo valley reserve, kickapoo valley reserve visitors centerI pulled into the main parking a little before 10:00 a.m. As I approached the visitor’s center, a beautiful building designed by KEE Architecture of Madison, Wis., I was struck by the names inscribed on the outside walls. Each family whose property was taken for the valley project is memorialized there. The sign near the front door says it best (click to enlarge).

History of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve

The Kickapoo Valley Reserve is the result of efforts to deal with severe flooding caused by the Kickapoo River. A flood in 1935 caused extensive damage to buildings and property in La Farge, Wis. Another, in 1951, claimed 10 lives. In 1962, Congress authorized the US Army Corps of Engineers to design a flood control dam at La Farge. It would create a reservoir 400 – 800 acres in size; later plans called for expanding that to a 1,780-acre lake for recreational use and power generation. Over time the government bought out 149 property owners north of La Farge–many of them unwillingly.

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TSA collects $1K-plus in loose change annually at Mitchell International

loose change at airport, keep your stuff safe, keep your belongings safeHave you left change behind while going through screening at General Mitchell International Airport (MKE)? If so, you helped the airport’s TSA staff collect an average of more than $1,760 in each of the three past years–nearly $5,300 during that time. (The biggest “contributor” nationwide was Miami International Airport, MIA). Loose change amounted to $32,590.43 in 2014.) Travelers using (Dane County’s (Wis.) Regional Airport (MSN)) left behind $368.25 in 2014.

Federal law requires the Transportation Safety Administration to report annually on the amount of money collected. Earlier this year, the TSA reported it had collected $674,841.06 nationwide during fiscal year 2014 (which ended Sept. 30, 2014).

While collections at Mitchell International haven’t followed a clear pattern–up one year, down another–nationally TSA has seen an increase in its collections. During FY 2008, TSA collected more than $383,000. The amount surpassed $600,000 in 2013. We can assume some of that is due to an increase in flying as the country came out of the Great Recession. But clearly people are leaving more change and currency at the screening stations. What’s happening here?

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