Prague Budapest

Dr. W on, Are Vacations Healthy?

The Good, the Bad, and the Struggle

Just got back from Budapest and Prague – Igen and dekuji and all that. Both are wonderful cities – rivals of a sort in terms of beauty, easily walkable, although both have castles on a hill that require some climbing. The climb is well worth the effort. I do not have a step counter, but I easily exceeded the daily suggested regimens. All good.

Great vacation, great time especially the letting go – the ease of doing what you want, when you want. That’s where the trouble begins. The bad struck home this morning when I noticed that the button on my pants seemed harder to close. Cannot be, I was only away for eight short summer days.



It all starts with that first leisurely breakfast. You say to yourself , “Let me just try that. Never had lecso (vegetarian stew) before. Seems to go well with eggs and maybe just a little of the langos (fried batter)”. And “let me have a small bite of your kakaos csiga (chocolate snail)”. You let go of the brakes and you lose control. ”No problem, I will just walk it off.” It is 10:30 AM and you need to stop at Gerbeaud for coffee and just a taste of that crèmeschnitte and dobos torte. “Maybe just one more spoon, awful to let it go to waste.”

Before you know it, lunch rolls around and you are at a great curbside restaurant with red checkered tablecloths, having a glass of Tokaji Aszu wine and maybe a second with that goat cheese salad and crusted bread. “No problem. Will just walk it off.” Back to the hotel, rested, changed and ready for dinner. Then we are off to this place with a fabulous view, with the wonderful couple we met from Seattle, having a couple of drinks before and after dinner., Gulyas (goulash) or kaposzta halupsy (cabbage rolls), of course but “let’s share the desert. Nothing heavy-palacsinta with cheese. Why not? We are on vacation”.

And so the days pass. After a week we are back home to our routines, savoring our memories and pictures.images

And now the consequences. Eight days and three and a half pounds heavier. We all seem to do it. It is almost inevitable. Or not?

Let’s go back and rewrite the script.

Day one: find the hotel gym. It opens at 6:00 AM. A little early but you need that daily workout. If your hotel has no gym, no problem. Bring your sneakers, a pair of gym shorts and T-shirt. That’s all you need. Take that run. Hotels even provide suggested running paths. Or even better, get to learn the city by doing a morning jog. Explore the city – running, jogging or even with a brisk walk. Not for you- then try exercising in the room. All you need is a regimen. A few push-ups, planks, sit ups or squats. Exercise bands are great to travel with. They weigh nothing and take no space. Not good at doing your own regimen? Download a program or video onto your phone before you leave for vacation. The main point is doing some regimen or activity before you start your day. If nothing else, it makes you aware that even on vacation you need to be fit and careful. It sets the mindset for the day.

Ok, you are ready to go down for breakfast. What should you eat?  Plan what you are going to eat before entering the dining room and stick to it. After that first day, you know what they offer. Today eggs, tomorrow yogurt and fruit, next day try something new. Everyone has to have limits. Set your boundaries before you enter the dining room or café. The approach has to be the same for lunch or dinner. You want desert? Once a day and do it smartly. Today cake. Tomorrow the fresh fruit. It is not easy but losing that extra weight past age 50 is even more difficult.

Brings us to the home stretch and that concerns alcohol. This is a hard one to conquer. Alcoholic beverages are fattening. Alcohol has a lot of calories per gram. Then if you mix it in a cocktail, you start to multiply the calories. Worst offender is beer. Beer has between 125-250 calories per can. Sure, you want to have that locally brewed Pilsner- limit yourself to one. Key word is limits. You must set them beforehand. If you are a couple do not worry about being a nag. Do your partner a favor and help him out. In the long run he will be thankful. Will it alter your vacation? Perhaps? Down the road those new clothes you bought before you left will fit just as well at home.

I was asked to fill you in on some of the great hotels in Prague and Budapest. Will do that next,  and then back to basics. Will discuss maximum predicted heart rate during exercise. Sorry for the digression.

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