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A healthful staycation: One week to a stronger you

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Get ready

Before the week begins, you'll want to hammer out your itinerary, says Lisa Himmelfarb, a Washington-based social worker who specializes in weight management. Instead of hotel reservations, maybe you'll want to snag spots in yoga and cycling classes. Schedule appointments with trainers and other experts ahead of time. And just like you'd hunt for a new bathing suit if you were headed to the beach, splurge on your exercise wardrobe and gear. Just remember to know your workout limits: Check with your doctor before going from zero to 60, and be careful in the heat.

Day 1

Clean the kitchen. Dietician and TV host Felicia Stoler commands you to find your trigger foods and dump them. While you're at it, reorganize to make sure your healthiest food is the easiest to access, prepared to pop in your mouth immediately and at eye level. Pull out measuring cups and spoons to encourage you to dole out exact portion sizes rather than eyeballing them.

Exercise without watching the clock. If time constraints are your standard excuse for not working out enough, spend an hour or two on what you wish you could do regularly. (Don't have a clue? Consult with a personal trainer for a starter routine.)

Write it all down. Luci Gabel, a Washington-based personal trainer and wellness consultant, encourages clients to keep a log of their thoughts, daily diet and problems. For this week (instead of a journal), start keeping track through nightly postcards. You can send them to yourself at the end of the week, so you'll have a reminder once you're back to work.

Day 2

Go on a supermarket sweep. Wind your way through each aisle, examine nutrition labels, linger in the produce section and squeeze an unfamiliar veggie or two. If you happen to live near a farmers market, that's worth a visit, too, Stoler says. And bring home a few bags of healthy souvenirs.

Walk it out. Even if you're sore from yesterday, that shouldn't keep you from engaging in the simplest and best forms of exercise. Grab a water bottle and see how far you can go.

Now you're cooking. Crack open those bags from this morning's shopping trip and whip up something you've never made before.

Day 3

Change it up. Sample a form of exercise you've never tried. Maybe it's those cannonball-like weights with handles, called kettlebells, at the gym. Maybe it's a water aerobics class. You might just stumble on a new regular routine.

Plan a field trip. Whether you love visiting museums or researching your family history, spend the next few hours doing just that. It'll improve your spirit, says George Washington University weight-management expert Arthur Frank, who adds that improved mental health can boost your physical health.

Day 4

Stretch your limits. Hone that mind-body connection with a yoga class. It'll feel mighty good after using those muscles the day before.

Take a hike. Or a bike. Or a swim. Just do something physical in nature that reminds you how enjoyable moving your body can be. Gabel recommends a ride along the Mount Vernon Trail or renting a boat and paddling the Potomac. Don't forget to pack a healthy picnic.

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