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ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE WORLD 2009

Exercise your smarts: Avoid weight gain while on vacation

February 08, 2009|Hugo Martin

The candy bars in the hotel room mini-bar.

The glazed pastries at the free breakfast buffet.

And, finally, the biggest hurdle to keeping fit and eating healthfully while traveling -- the Cinnabon kiosk at the airport, those 730-calorie glazed swirls of baked dough that can add 2 inches to your waistline on sight alone.

So how do you eat well and stay trim while living out of a suitcase?

The answer comes down to one word, doctors and other health experts, say: preparation.

Here are 10 tips to help you avoid returning from your next trip with extra baggage around your waist.

1. Be sure your hotel offers access to an exercise room or gym. Make time in your schedule to exercise at least as often as you do at home.

2. Pack your running shoes and workout clothes. When you unpack them, you will see how much space they take up in your suitcase and will feel too guilty not to exercise.

3. Before arriving at your destination, look at a map of the area around your hotel and plan to see as much as you can by foot. Walking not only burns almost 100 calories per mile (depending on how fast you walk), but it also saves you money on transportation. "See the city by running or walking instead of taking a cab," says Jamie Davis, a registered dietitian and assistant professor of nutrition at USC's Keck School of Medicine.

4. Refuse the key to the in-room mini-bar, which will save you money (do you really want to pay $2.50 for a bag of chips?) and eliminate the temptation to snack.

5. Pack yourself a few healthful snacks so you don't eat the high-carb, preheated stuff served on airplanes, at convention centers and in hotel bars. Dr. David Heber, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, travels extensively and says he always carries protein bars and a Ziploc bag of raw almonds.

6. Once you clear airport security, buy a bottle of drinking water. The water will keep you hydrated during the flight and help you fight the temptation to suck down high-calorie soft drinks.

7. If your hotel offers a free continental breakfast, skip the glazed pastries. Try yogurt or whole-wheat cereal with low-fat milk.

8. If you are going to be on the move all day -- say, taking your kids to an amusement park -- try to have at least one healthful, sit-down meal. A solid meal will reduce your chances of snacking throughout the day. "And remember to order reasonably at restaurants," added John Swartzberg, a clinical professor of medicine at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health.

9. Drink alcohol in moderation -- it's loaded with calories. Two Manhattan cocktails have more calories than a 2-ounce Snickers candy bar.

10. Be active. If you're vacationing by the shore, don't just lie on the beach all day. Take surfing lessons or rent a bicycle to explore the coast. Use your vacation time to play like a kid.

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hugo.martin@latimes.com

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