10 Simple Tricks Helped Me Actually Lose Weight on Vacation

Updated: Mar. 23, 2017

Can you imagine eating and drinking your way through Europe and coming home with a smaller waistline? That's what happened to wellness blogger Katie Dunlop. But she didn't make a deal with the devil—she just took these simple, manageable steps.

Courtesy Katie Dunlop of Love Sweat Fitness

Make time to move (a little) every day

Katie Dunlop, blogger at Love Sweat Fitness, committed herself to exercising every single day of her recent European vacation, but that doesn’t mean she wasted hours in the hotel gym. “My mentality used to be that I might work out really hard before going on vacation, and then, peace out on my health and fitness while I’m away, but that doesn’t work,” she explains. It’s a recipe for weight gain. “Instead, on this vacation, I got workouts in every day. I did cardiovascular and ab workouts, as well as walking a lot. I did a 20-minute workout every morning, even before coffee. That way, I could feel good about going into the day,” she explains. Here’s how Dunlop originally lost 45 pounds, completely reshaping her body.

Courtesy Katie Dunlop of Love Sweat Fitness

Choose one indulgence

If you don’t want to gain weight on vacation, you can’t throw caution to the wind and eat everything in sight, like the bread at dinner, the pasta entree, a glass of wine, and dessert to top it off. Dunlop is not a big sweets lover, so she chose cocktails as her indulgence instead of dessert. She also consciously avoided ones made with sugary syrup, and stuck to lower-calorie options, like champagne. With a glass in hand, she says never felt deprived or out of control. Watch out for calories that sneak into your coffee drinks too.

Courtesy Katie Dunlop of Love Sweat Fitness

Fill up on the good stuff

If you’re going to a locale that’s legendary for its tacos, taro pancakes, garlic mashed potatoes, or pasta Bolognese, you can still eat them! Just order them as sides, and for the rest of your meal, fill up on veggies plus lean protein, like grilled chicken, fish, or legumes. (Here’s how to load up on lean protein.) You’ll still enjoy a delicious meal but won’t feel deprived of the local experience.

Courtesy Katie Dunlop of Love Sweat Fitness

Get enough sleep

Dunlop’s vacation partner was her husband, a former house music DJ. The two knew the nightlife would call to them, especially in Ibiza, a spot filled with legendary house music clubs. “We enjoyed the night life but always got back at 1 a.m. (or so). I made sure I was getting at least seven hours of sleep a night,” Dunlop says. “You do get more energy when you work out, so that helped rejuvenate me.” Getting enough rest is super important for weight loss. According to Women’s Health, quality z’s help you burn off calories and revs up fat loss. On the flipside, when you’re sleepy, you tend to eat more, and are more likely to grab carby junk to boost your energy reserves. Here’s how you can literally lose weight in your sleep.

Courtesy Katie Dunlop of Love Sweat Fitness

Eat like a local

It’s actually easier to avoid foods stuffed with chemicals, sugar, and salt outside of the U.S. So while on vacation, don’t reach for the soda and sandwich you might grab back home, and instead focus on eating high quality fresh food that the locals are eating. Dunlop and her husband did a lot of market shopping in Europe, choosing their own in-season produce and lean proteins. She also did a ton of research on restaurants before they even arrived. In Spain and Portugal, she indulged in scrumptious, runny cheese and all-natural, high-fiber bread, which didn’t cause any stomach sensitivity as gluten products often do at home. (If gluten is a problem for you, consider trying this amazing gluten-free bread!)

Courtesy Katie Dunlop of Love Sweat Fitness

Drink plenty of water

Whether you’re lying on a beach or taking in the city sights, you’re bound to work up a thirst every day, so keep that S’well bottle filled up. Dunlop suggests drinking even more water than you do at home. “Drinking water helps to flush out extra sodium,” she says, do you’re less likely to get bloated after those salty tacos. Drinking water before a meal has also been shown to take the edge off your appetite, so you’ll naturally eat less and lose weight. (Start calling your water “weight-loss juice” and see how much more motivated you’ll be to drink up!) Of course, make sure the water is foreigner-friendly in the country you’re visiting. When in doubt, carry the jumbo size water bottles and aim to drain them multiple times.

Courtesy Katie Dunlop of Love Sweat Fitness

Skip the taxis

When you’re on vacation, walking is your best friend. Not only will you burn more calories than you would driving or even grabbing a bus or tram, but you’ll also get to savor the sights, slow down as you please, and relish everything from national monuments to museums to quaint streets with pastel-colored houses. Other little tricks, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and standing on public transportation instead of sitting, can also help. Here are other ways to move more throughout the day.

Courtesy Katie Dunlop of Love Sweat Fitness

Go on an adventure

Rent bicycles or canoes, go snorkeling, hike the local trails, or play any sport that the area you’re visiting is known for. You’ll drench yourself in local flavor, plus get a fun workout in too. If you’ve got bad weather or a sick traveling companion, here’s how to work up a sweat without leaving your hotel room.

Courtesy Katie Dunlop of Love Sweat Fitness

Explore the amenities

If you’re staying in a hotel, there’s probably a gym, or even a pool, you can take advantage of. Dunlop did a retreat at a local resort, which featured sunrise yoga. You might even want to build in a personal training session, or treat yourself to learning a new workout routine. These are the workouts that burn the most calories.

Courtesy Katie Dunlop of Love Sweat Fitness

Use your downtime

Never underestimate the power of a couch workout! Dunlop would use downtime in her hotel room to stretch while watching TV. It’s great for your body and brain too. Here are stretching tips to help you maximize your efforts, both on vacation, and at home. To see Dunlop’s vacation weight-loss results, check her blog post at Love Sweat Fitness.