So, you've made it. You're finally on holiday!
(Yeah, I know, you're still at the office slaving away at your desk but bear with me, I'm painting a picture here!)
After all those weeks of cutting calories, depriving yourself of treats and regularly thrashing yourself about in the gym (You know, the usual pre-holiday fitness panic) you're finally able to get your kit off, soak up some rays and chill out on the beach.
After all, idleness and holidays go hand in hand don't they?
Or do they? Or, more to the point, should they?
It may or may not surprise to you to find out that, on average, holiday makers put on around 5-7lbs in weight during their two weeks away from home, a figure (excuse the pun) only normally beaten by Christmas!
Now, 7lbs may not sound like a lot but in reality it represents some 24,500 extra calories stored either through reduced activity or excess food consumption.
Just to clarify, that's the equivalent of about 10 days worth of calories above and beyond those needed to maintain your weight during your holiday. And guess what?
Nearly all of this is fat!!
So maybe a week of sun, sea and sloth isn't such a great idea after all. Not unless you actually enjoy laying down lard!
The funny thing is, it's so easy to avoid piling on the holiday pounds.
In fact, many people find that they actually come back from their holidays leaner, more toned and far healthier than when they went away just by taking advantage of the opportunity to be more active and try new, healthier foods.
I know what you're thinking "I'm on holiday to enjoy myself and relax NOT to put myself through some harsh diet and thrash myself everyday" and you're right, a holiday should offer the chance to rejuvenate and replenish your tired body.
That's exactly why you should consider being more active during your break.
You see, contrary to popular belief, total bed-rest (or sunbed rest) is actually BAD for you.
Lazing your days away leads to muscle wasting, reduced metabolism, increased fat storage and increased lethargy.
This is why we're often more tired upon return from our hols than before we went away, we're simply allowing our bodies to degrade through immobility.
As if we're not already immobile enough in our day-to-day lives!
Of course, this can easily be avoided by incorporating a little and often approach to activity during your holiday. Just follow the simple tips laid out below and you may even come back in better shape than when you started your hols.
1. Take a walk, run or go for a swim before breakfast. This is a great way to fire up your metabolism and burn off some extra calories before you put more food into your body, and a great opportunity to get your towel on a sunbed before anyone else!
2. Spend at least 10 mins out of every hour on your feet Come on, 10 minutes is hardly a hardship and you can use this time to walk along the beach and even-up your tan in those hard to reach bits or even to check out the talent further up the beach!
3. Spend at least 10 mins out of every hour in the water. Swim, snorkel, surf, kayak, paddle or whatever takes your fancy. Just get in the water and move!
I'm sensing some resistance. Still too much effort?
Well, for those of you determined to travel the world, meet interesting people and wave at them from the comfort of your sunbed (you lazy lot!) all's not lost. There may still be a way of keeping you from piling on the pounds.
Isometric contractions are the ideal lazy-persons workout as they require no movement. Not one bit.
Now I've got your attention haven't I?
To perform isometrics simply contract the target muscles between 75-100% of their maximum effort and hold this contraction for 20-30 seconds before relaxing and choosing another target.
For the chest: Push the palms of your hands together in a prayer-type position. Now push, crush and push some more with all your might.
For the shoulders: Clasp your hands together and attempt to pull them apart as hard as you can
For your abdominals: Lie on your back, knees bent and hand on thighs. With arms outstretched and elbows locked, attempt a crunch type movement (Against your locked arms you won't be able to get up).
For your thighs: Straighten your legs and contract and squeeze as hard as you can. Easy!
For your inner thighs: Legs straight and ankles together try to push each ankle through the other one (You may want to place a towel between your ankles). A similar action can be done with the knees.
For your hips: Cross your legs and feet and attempt to pull the feet apart.
There you have it. The ultimate lazy-persons workout with not a weight, band or exercise gizmo in sight.
But don't let its simplicity fool you, this workout can be amazingly effective at increasing muscular tone and strength Working this way you can perform an almost endless circuit of exercises as you work around the body without ever getting off of your sunbed. Not bad huh?
Seriously though, movement is where it's at. The body is quite simply a movement machine. It likes it, wants it and needs it to function optimally, and by incorporating movement into your holiday you'll look and feel far better because of it.
I'm not suggesting that your holiday has to be all action and adventure from start to finish or that fitness should dominate your thoughts in any way, simply that you take a little time every day to look after your body and give it what it needs.
After all, what's the point of half killing yourself to get in shape prior to your hols if you're going to trash it all and look fat and unfit on your return?
See you on the beach!