For guilt-free holiday feasting, try these tips

It’s holiday time again, and as usual it can be hard to keep to a regular fitness plan while you travel.

You will also want to eat more exotic foods and local delights at your destination - most of which will involve extra sugar, flour and fat.

As you might imagine, this is the time of year where many people gain some weight.

Taking a break is fine, but it’s also important not to sabotage your own health while you do so.

Here are some of the things I suggest to my clients when they go on holiday, so that they don’t come back looking like a “before” advertisement for our gym.

Tip 1: “Over-train” before you go for your trip

I know that it may be hard to find a place to exercise properly when you are travelling.

So one of the things you can do is to over-exercise slightly before you go.

For example, if you normally exercise twice a week, push it up to four or five times a week or two before your trip.

Yes, you will be sore, ache all over and feel drained.

But during your one or two week holiday, your body will over compensate during its recovery and you will come back stronger than when you left.

How to plan your calorie intake

Tip 2: Manage your caloric intake during your trip

My preferred method of teaching nutrition is to ask clients to eat really good food choices and not worry too much about how much food they eat.

After all, it is very hard to overeat if you are eating healthy lean meat and vegetables. 

However, we all know that’s not what you will be eating on holiday. So the alternative method is that you need to eat less.

To avoid stuffing yourself, a good guideline is to take your bodyweight in pounds and multiply it by 13.

That’s a good baseline for your caloric intake. So for example, if you weigh 60kg (132lbs), take 132 x 13 = 1716 calories per day.

Tip 3: Skip a meal

Yes, this is another thing that I don’t usually recommend.

But the research is clear. Multiple smaller meals per day tend to be good for you if you are eating healthy food.

On the other hand, multiple small meals is BAD for you if you are eating unhealthy food – which is most likely the case while on holiday.

For myself, I would do a “late breakfast” in addition to an “early dinner”.

Planning your activities

Tip 4: Do some activity

Hopefully your holiday involves some activity like hiking or walking.

But if not, then you can find a small hotel gym, or a set of stairs where you can do a short session of interval training.

To get started with interval training without worrying too much about measuring distances, or worrying about which machine or method to use, I like to use what is called the “Perceived Exertion” (PE) scale.

Simply put this is a scale from 1-10 with “one” being the effort you will be exerting, and the difficulty you would get from a slow stroll on the beach with your family and friends.

A “ten” would be the exertion and effort you would be feeling if you were being chased by a pack of wild dogs.

Here are two good interval programs (on next page).

You can use any method you prefer, be it rowing, swimming, running, stair climbing or cycling.

It is best to switch up your method every few weeks to keep you body from getting used to a method and “too efficient” at it which produces a lower fat burning effect.

Interval progams to try

Interval Program Structure 1

• 5 min warmup – PE 3/10 • 2 mins fast – PE 8/10 • 4 mins slow – PE 3/10  • Repeat this fast/slow pattern 3-6 times depending on fitness level  • 5 min cool down

Interval Program Structure 2

• 5 min warmup – PE 3/10 • 30 sec fast – PE 9/10 • 3 mins slow – PE 3/10 • Repeat this fast/slow pattern 4 to 8 times depending on fitness level • 5 min cool down

There we have it, some things you can do to stay (quite) on track while you are on holiday!

This article was contributed by Jonathan Wong, a personal trainer and weight loss coach. Coach Jon, as he is known to his clients, owns Genesis Performance Center, a private health and fitness centre that offers personal training and fitness bootcamps in Singapore. To find out more, visit