Well, it’s sad to say, but it feels like summer is half over.
If you haven’t gone on a summer vacation yet, chances are you are planning one before the kids go back to school. I may be crazy, but I get super paranoid starting 7-10 days before vacation. If someone sneezes, coughs, or heaven forbid, gets a stomach virus in the same area code as me I flip out and yell “don’t even look me in the eye, you stay far far away!!!!”. Part of me thinks that the first step in staying healthy for your summer vacation is to not get paranoid. The mind works in very mysterious ways, if you believe you are getting sick you are halfway there. So before you do anything else, stay positive and believe that you are going to stay healthy.
Now that we have conquered the power of positive thinking (ok, that actually is a whole other topic and it’s really hard to actually conquer, but we are at least heading in the right direction) let’s talk about keeping our immune systems in peak form and trying to maintain at least the bare minimum of a healthy lifestyle while we are on vacation, which is where I tend to fail the most.
Step 1: For the 2 weeks leading up to summer vacation
- Get your sleep. We did a pretty extensive 2 part blog on this one because it is sooo important. Nothing will murder your immune system like poor sleep, and remember a full night sleep is 7-9 hours (not 6 hours like most of us seem to think).
- Eat a healthy diet (but don’t starve yourself). I have a bad habit of eating practically nothing (and certainly 0 carbs) for the last couple of weeks before vacay. Guess what that leads to? The second I get to the hotel I eat the greasiest, most disgusting, carb-laden thing that is available and more pina colada’s than should be allowed. Eat your regular diet, but don’t eat a “crash diet”. Low in carbs, but not zero carbs. Lots of veggies, but not only veggies. You get the idea.
- Make sure you are taking your usual vitamins. For me, the normal regimen consists of a multi, a probiotic, and a fish oil (ok, and a ton of other stuff, but these are the essentials). A probiotic, especially, is super important for keeping your immune system kicking in high gear
Step 2: The night before your vacation
- Get your sleep…this one may keep showing up. Do not stay up until 2 a.m. packing. Go to bed at your normal hour. And remember, it is almost certain that if you forget something it is not the end of the world, so don’t lose sleep stressing about whether or not you forgot to pack something (also, it is super helpful to make a list of what you need way in advance, I start about 2 weeks before I leave and add to it as I remember things).
Step 3: The Airport
- Get there early enough that you are not stressing out and grab something to eat on the airplane that won’t give you indigestion. Maybe a sandwich and some fruit. And definitely, grab a water. That shot glass of water they give you 2 hours into the flight is not enough to keep you hydrated!
Step 4: It’s vacay time!!
- Have fun!! Don’t stress out too much. If there is a cool concert happening late…go! Don’t worry about your bedtime that night. If you come across “world’s best fried chicken” eat it!! This site actually had a really great article about how to enjoy yourself while still maintaining some semblance of health. If you have kids, play with them! This is a great way to get some exercise and I can almost guarantee you they will wear your butt out!
- Stay hydrated. I like to start the day with a big glass of Vitamin C Biofizz. First of all, it actually tastes pretty good so making a liter or so drink out of it doesn’t just turn it into a liter of diluted grossness. Plus, you are getting the bonus of high dose, highly absorbable vitamin C which is a great way to keep your immune system strong. Especially after sitting next to 300 of your best friends on the airplane (so, maybe on second thought start this one before you get on the airplane)
- I bet you saw this one coming…..get sleep!! You don’t necessarily have to stay on a completely normal schedule, but going to bed at 3 am every night and waking up at 6 am every morning is not a sustainable routine. Do the best you can to get 7-9 hours, without compromising the awesome events that may be going on late at night and/or early in the morning.
- Keep taking those probiotics we were talking about earlier, they really are pretty great for maintaining your immune system.
Step 5: Going home and settling back into your routine
- Summer Vacation is officially over, chances are (no matter how hard you tried) your diet has been less than stellar, your exercise routine has imploded, and your sleep schedule is all out of whack. It is time to get back into the groove now! The longer you put it off the harder it is going to be. I’ll bet you feel like eating a vegetable or two and now is the time to do it. Take it easy the first day, eat a nice dinner, get to bed nice and early, and then it’s time to get your butt in gear again.
There you have it, 5 steps to give you the best chance to maintain good health before, during, and after your epic vacation. But, don’t forget to let go a little and enjoy yourself.
Until next time…Dr. Kent.