Blogging Fitness: The Skinny on Balancing Vacation Fitness and Splurging

Summer time is around the corner and a sunny vacation might be in order. As the sun is getting hotter, this will naturally require a little less clothing.

Eek! This thought might suddenly cause you to panic.

Fear not. We’ve still got some time to shape up before you ship out on your sizzling vacation.

vacation-fitness-tipsAs I am a self-proclaimed gym junkie, the thought of being apart from my workout destination sends me into a frazzled state of mind. I suddenly become uneasy and stressed.

This is not what vacations are for!

It’s our time to kick back and splurge. So, in an effort to allow myself to relax while simultaneously not feeling like a two-ton tilly, I have crafted my ideal formula for balancing the splurge with the sacrifice.

And trust me, this plan of attack is splurge-focused with sacrifice in the background.

Now, with the idea in my head that I would be crafting this article after my first vacation of the summer, I did a little pre-test for my balancing equation. I went on a trip with my family this past weekend and I came prepared to fight the battle of the bulge. I loaded up the car with healthy, substantial snacks, running shoes, hand weights, and my Ipod.

As I only head to this specific location once a year, I knew I was bound to splurge on some high quality eating at my favorite restaurants. You can’t drive 400 miles and deprive yourself of delicious food you have craved all year round.

Pre-trip “beach bod” challenge

Whenever I prepare for a vacation where I know I’ll be hitting up the beach in a bikini, I aim to eat no sugar throughout the week a month or two prior. (When I say “no sugar,” I mean no processed sugar. I am definitely not going to deprive myself of fruits!) Whenever I am contemplating caving in and cheating on my beach bod challenge, I remember that soon enough I can splurge all I want to on vacation with special treats.

Wouldn’t you rather feel healthy and strong going into the vacation? It’s pretty much inevitable that some damage will be done over the reprieve so just accept that and embrace it. You can glide right back into your routine upon your return. Also, below are some tips that can allow you to integrate quick, simple workouts into your vacation schedule.

Skip the dime-a-dozen fat traps

The first battle (for me anyway) comes along the first pit stop. As I walk into a gas station, visions of candy bars begin dancing in my head. Same goes for the overpriced airport gift shops with shiny, foiled candy wrappers.

Well snap out of it! This ain’t Willy Wonka and the freakin’ Chocolate Factory! You don’t need that artificial, run of the mill crap! Save those calories for something special that you couldn’t get for $0.89 cents every day of the week.

After you dodge that bullet, feel a sense of accomplishment. It might be a tiny step, but a successful day begins with one smart decision. It’s much more empowering to keep up with the pattern of good decision making if it’s established from the beginning.

When I feel I am susceptible to that tricky temptation, I think of how miserable or disappointed I will feel later. And isn’t it unfair that it takes one minute to gobble down a chocolate bar, but it takes hours for the guilt and yucky feeling to wear off? Save yourself the misery and skip it!

Get your rear out of bed and up that hill

I know vacation is all about being lazy, footless, and fancy free. However, having little surges of workouts sprinkled throughout your day will benefit you.

jogging-on-beachAs much as it pained me to set my alarm for 8 AM while I was on vacation (I am not a morning person), I made the sacrifice. I scooped myself up out of bed and hit the pavement for a morning run. As soon as I was up and getting ready, I was incredibly grateful I didn’t hit the snooze button. Even doing a twenty or thirty minute walk will jumpstart that metabolism and burn some calories.

You won’t regret it if you get up and work out, but you could potentially regret it if you don’t. This mini workout (or full-fledged workout if you’re so inclined) will give you extra energy and lessen the guilt when you indulge in that special treat later in the afternoon.

Just listen to your favorite song

Some other great workouts I do while on vacation don’t require a gym. Before I hop into bed, I will pop in the Ipod and do a series of lunges and squats for the legs. I usually do about a song’s length, just to feel the burn. You want to preserve all the hard work you’ve been doing the weeks leading up to the vacation, so keep those thigh muscles engaged.

I like to follow these leg exercises with some ab work. Don’t we all feel a little flabby-ish in the tum after the extra food and drinks we’ve indulged in? No frets. Just suck that belly button into the spine and finish off the night with a few core moves. I usually do ab work for one or two songs – depends on if it’s a “sweatpants kind of night” or not.

I like to start off with some plank moves to initially engage the core. Now gently tip your hips side to side, while remaining in the plank position. If that doesn’t hurt, then maybe you are a robot. After you do that for a minute or two, flip on over to your back and hit up those basic crunches. After your upper abdominals feel the burn, do some reverse curls to work those lower abdominals. Then finish it off with some bicycles for the obliques – you’ve successfully pumped that core in all the quadrants.

If you’re really feeling ambitious, grab some hand weights and do some arm work for a song’s length. If you don’t have hand weights, I would recommend tricep dips off the side of the bed or the desk chair. The farther your booty is away from the bed or chair, the tougher it’s going to be on those triceps. Another option is just focus on one muscle group per night. Just think, taking fifteen or thirty minutes to work these muscles will honestly make a difference in how you feel physically and mentally.

You didn’t know you were working out already?

A lot of times when we are on vacation, we are seeing the city. Commonly, our mode of transportation is our legs. Bonus: you are burning calories while you are seeing the sites!

Just think of how many miles you cover at a theme park or romping around an enchanted city. Conceivably, you could be walking six to eight hours a day, depending on your itinerary. So I say, go ahead and eat that dessert!

As the weather is nice, we are of course going to be outside more. Partake in activities that allow you to experience the culture while dually staying active. At the beach you could try surfing, boogie boarding, or snorkeling. If you are touring a city, opt in for the walking tours and stairs when possible.

Also, when you are sitting in a cab, plane or on a subway, contract your abdominals. I will usually do 100 in a row. My stomach always feels more firm right after I do this. It’s similar to doing a crunch but you are simply just sitting there. No one will even realize you are “working out.” Might as well make good use of your travel time!

Take advantage of what you’re already paying for

A common amenity hotels have are fitness facilities. They might not be flashy or bountiful, but they have sufficient equipment to get your heart pumping.

This past weekend my brother and I ventured off to the workout center at the hotel and I was honestly dreading my treadmill experience. That is my least favorite way to workout but I was craving some cardio. So I saddled up and hopped on the treadmill.

After four minutes I was bored out of my mind and wanted to stop. Then I thought to myself, you’re here, you’re going to stay on. So I switched it up and would do sprints, then I would walk on an incline, then I would jog. I basically tricked myself into thinking I was having a decent time. Pretty soon, twenty minutes was up and I moved onto some calisthenics, arms, and abdominal work. Before I knew it, we had been there an hour.

Turn up the jams and you will lose yourself in the workout. Also, take advantage of the swimming pool, assuming it’s not cluttered with loud kiddos practicing their cannon balls. This is a complete body workout and could serve as a relaxing way to wind down your day.

Always be prepared

If you have some time to spare and want to engage in an exercise cultural experience, check out what activities you can do at your destination.

Look up the nearby gyms and print out a free guest pass to take a class or go rock climbing. Many gyms offer free one-day or weekly guest passes, so take advantage. Especially if you are going to a bigger city, this may be your only chance to engage in some of the cutting edge fitness trends. This could easily fit into your itinerary and would only take an hour.

beach-vacationOne of the most enjoyable and interesting experiences I had in another country was taking a kickbox class. This was before I was a kickbox nut, but I credit this slightly with my current kickbox obsession.

I was in Paris and there was a fancy, expensive gym near my apartment. As a student I knew I couldn’t afford the 300 Euro a month membership, but I definitely wanted to experience another country’s realm of fitness. So I marched myself in there and asked in broken French if they had free guest passes. Much to my surprise, they were kind and signed me up for a class.

The class was electrifying and boosted my energy to the max. Although I didn’t understand a dose of what the instructor yelled out, I was able to follow virtually every move. I guess there is a universal language of fitness.

Enjoy yourself – splurges should be guilt-free on vacation

The bottom line is that we want to enjoy ourselves on vacation. It’s inevitable that we are going to splurge. If your family is anything like mine, when we go on trips, eating is often the main event. You have to take advantage and experience exotic cuisines and specialties you can’t have every day.

You’d be a fool not to!

You have most likely spent a lot of time preparing and dreaming about this vacation, so make the most of it. Just remember: a few minutes of working a day on your vacation can help you ease back into your workout routine upon the return.


About the Author

kimberly-westphallKimberly Westphall is the author of Blogging Fitness and a regular contributor to Midwest Sports Fans. She is a recent graduate of the University of Kansas where she majored in Journalism. She participated in a podcast with Jerod, which will help you get to know her even better.

While at KU, she was an anchor and online web producer for Jayhawk Sports Talk. Kimberly made her MSF debut in 2009 discussing the fight between Kansas’ basketball and football teams and also had her column about the Dallas Stars Ice Girls featured at Dallas Sports Fans.

She has a passion for fitness and is on the lookout for emerging fitness trends and workouts. Her favorite group exercise format is kickboxing, and when she’s not hitting up the aerobics studio both as a participant and instructor, Kimberly is training for marathons with her best friend Jackie.



  1. What's your advice on finding places to run? I do hate using the treadmill.

    • Kimberly Westphall says:

      Hey Michael! Thanks for checking out this article of Blogging Fintess. Yes treadmills are not the most enjoyable so I am always on the lookout for new places to run outside. Even running outside can become boring, so it's important to me to switch up the scenery. Next time you are out and about, look around your neighborhood and check out the sidewalks. If there's not an optimal running space close by, drive to a lake or big subdivision and tie your key around one of your shoelace. When I trained for a race I did back in March, I found a place that was about 1.5 miles away from where I live. It was great because I would run there and back, and that was 3 extra miles I ran that wasn't even part of my route. Another alternative to the treadmill is running on indoor tracks- check to see gyms in your area have that feature. Personally, my current gym doesn't have one and I miss it! Or you could always check out the local high school outdoor track. Especially since it's summer time, it probably won't be occupied by lots of students so you should hit that up. Keep on running!

  2. great article! great tips for vacation and ways to not feel soo guilty for "enjoying" your vacation.

  3. amazing article complete with fresh voice and relatable circumstances! kimberly is one of a kind and i took her kickboxing class and it kicked my butt! what a work out! and that girl is an lively, energetic inspiration in the gym!

    • Kimberly Westphall says:

      Thanks so much Cameron! It was a joy having you in class- you rocked that class's socks off!

  4. Thanks for another informative blog. Where else could I get that type of information written in such an ideal way? I’ve a project that I’m just now working on, and I have been on the look out for such info.

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