5 ways to stay active (and have fun) on vacation

When going on vacation, exercise is often not a top priority. However, maintaining an active lifestyle on vacation will help to reduce or eliminate vacation weight gain and maintain motivation once the vacation is over. Vacations are meant to be a time off from regular routine so eliminate the stress of exercise by having fun with it!

5 ways to stay active on vacation


1. Sightsee on foot

This seems basic but walking is an excellent source of exercise while on vacation. If a sight is a 30 minute walk or a 10 minute metro ride, choose to walk. Not only are you exercising, you get a chance to sightsee at the same time. This will often lead off the tourist track where you can truly get a sense of the place you are visiting. I love walking around neighbourhoods, window shopping little shops and checking out neat cafes and restaurants I might want to visit later.

When Tom & I were in Europe, we walked a lot. While many major cities would offer hop-on-hop-off bus tours of major attractions, we chose to forgo those and walk between sites. This was our main form of exercise. The minimum we would walk in a day was around 5 hours. At max, one day we walked 10 hours.

Additionally, running as sightseeing is a great way to get out and see a city. Wake up for an early morning run and you will see the place you are visiting in a whole new light.

mykonos run

2. Take the road less travelled

Have you ever walked out of a subway station, got onto the packed escalator then looked beside you and saw that one person walking up the stairs? Be that person! Staying active on vacation doesn’t have to be specifically putting on work out clothes and working out, it can be finding ways to get your heart rate up during the day and burning a few extra calories.

Taking stairs is one of the easiest way to get your heart rate climbing plus when you are that person walking up the stairs passing those people standing on the elevator, you get the right to feel a little self-righteous. I know I did, especially when Tom and I were carrying our 30 pound backpacks and still chose the stairs.

judging gif


3. Hotel gym or circuit workouts

If you want a more conventional workout, you can always see if your hotel has a gym. Planning ahead and choosing a hotel with a gym can help with your fitness goals. However, if your hotel doesn’t have a gym don’t fret! You can always do a hotel circuit workout. I love Julie from Peanut Butter Finger’s no-equipment circuit workouts. You can do a quick 25-30 minute workout when you get up in the morning and then you leave for the day already feeling accomplished.

workout motivation

4. Join a fitness challenge

Before you leave for vacation, join a fitness challenge. There are always challenges such as squat challenges, plank-a-day challenges, etc. Joining a challenge will keep you motivated while you are away. Keep your progress updated on Instagram, Twitter or whatever social media you prefer. Keep it fun by doing a plank in front of a monument you are visiting or doing your squats in a famous park.

Just don’t do this type of planking challenge…



5. Look up local workout classes

Being on vacation means you are trying new things and new experiences. Check out if the area offers any fun drop in classes. Maybe there is a yoga in the park you could take part in or you could try out something unique like hotel Aria’s Indoor Hike in Las Vegas.

There are so many ways to keep fit on vacation, do whatever works best for you!

hiking greece

What’s your favourite way to work up a sweat on vacation? Do you judge people on the elevator when you are taking the stairs?

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Spring Revival

Hello ya’ll! I’m Shaye and I like to live a life of passion.  My family is my main source of joy but I like to consider myself a renaissance woman as well.  Diving into any and all things that bring me joy head first!  I hail from the great state of Wisconsin and couldn’t imagine a more beautiful place.  If you enjoy what I have done for Pretty Little Grub you can follow me as well at www.simplyshaye.wordpress.com.  Thanks!

The time of year has come for me to pack away my alarm clock because the sound of birds singing is more than a welcome sound to awake to each morning.  Spring has sprung and it’s time to shake off those winter blues and get ready to enjoy the warm months ahead.  It can be a slow process for some but I have a few tricks that I use that seem to make the transition much easier.

Clear Mind, Healthy Mind

Above all else I like to get my mind in the right state.  In order to do that I need to declutter my thoughts.  On a warm day I like to try and meditate.  I remove myself from distraction and head outdoors.  Find a comfortable place to sit and breathe deep.  Let the fresh breeze come over you while you relax.  Focus on all the things that make you happy.  Separate all of your work anxiety from your social life.  A clear division between them will allow you to be more peace and enjoy those events out of work.

Remove Mental Pollution

To help keep my mind at ease as well I try to limit my media intake.  I’ll still keep up on the news but when it comes to evening programming I try to cut it down to a minimum.  Instead I look to a good book.  Sitting on the back porch in the evening reading a great book is an amazing way to escape.  Getting lost in a narrative with the beautiful weather around you is an amazing way to melt away the stresses of a day.  Breathe deep, dive into the narrative and let the words on the page take you over.

Bust a Move

It’s common to see more and more people begin to exercise once the weather improves and I am one of them.  When it’s cold outside I tend to lose motivation but as the weather warms up so does our disposition on exercise.  I find that the best times to try and sneak in some exercise is either at sunrise or dusk.

I personally wake up and hour earlier than normal and take off on a morning jog.  The sun is up earlier which makes it so much easier for me to get out of bed.  The morning air seems to help me clear my mind and prepare for the day.  If you’d rather wait until dusk that is fine too.  A brisk walk is the perfect go to as the day comes to an end.  It gets your heart rate up, isn’t too strenuous and allows you to enjoy the nature around you.  These are just a few easy ideas to get you up and moving.

Kick the Caffeine

Over the winter my dependance on coffee skyrockets.  I try to move away from coffee all together come springtime.  If I need a jolt of caffeine I turn to tea or if I’m desperate a large iced coffee is my savior.  I seek out alternative sources to energize myself come the warmer months, such as a glass of water with a touch of lemon.  The lemon adds a large dose of electrolytes to the water giving you a natural energy boost.  It also helps to keep you hydrated which is just a great general health tip on its own.  

Eat Seasonally

My diet also changes this time of year.  Fruits, greens and other vegetables make up the majority of my meals around this time of year.  Mostly fresh crisp salads.  A bed of greens full of produce topped with grilled steak or chicken is my favorite go to.  From time to time though you have to allow yourself to indulge.  

My favorite way to soak up all spring has to offer is with a picnic.  Peace and tranquility along with enjoying the outdoors and some great food as well.  I don’t always bring healthy foods along, I mean after all this is my reward.  Sweets, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, are my downfall.  That is why I always bring some sort of goodie with me on my picnics.  Anything from dark chocolate bars, to cake pops, to oatmeal raisin cookies usually accompany me.  I can’t deprive myself completely!

Spring is here! It’s time to get out of the house and enjoy all the glory that comes with the changing of the seasons.  What ways do you like to kick start your spring season?

Quick strength training workouts that will benefit runners

Hi everyone! Jen has given me the opportunity to be a guest blogger and I wanted to begin with a big thank you! My name is Courtney and I am an online personal trainer, running coach, Google Helpout expert and fellow blogger. I’m also a mother of two little ones, wife to a traveling husband and fitness enthusiast. As a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) I love to bring the science of exercise to our everyday life.

I thought I’d talk about strength training exercises that are beneficial for long distance runners. Many distance runners are not sure what type of strength training routines to add into their programs. Strength training workouts provide the benefit of adding cross training into your routine which in turn will help to avoid overuse injuries.

First, what is a long distance runner? Pretty much anyone from a 1 miler to Marathoner. Once you get past the marathon distance you can stick a big “ultra” in front. 😉 For me, I’m training for the Big Sur Marathon which is next week! After that I plan on scaling back and running distances from 5K to half marathons for the summer.

I currently do strength training workouts twice a week. The first day is a group exercise strength training class I teach and the second is on my own. I’m an advocate for being able to do most workouts anywhere and not needing to have a gym membership. You will need exercise cords for the first workout. These can be purchased at any sporting goods store. I would suggest using a light and medium resistance to begin. The second workout is simply using body weight, but trust me, that’s all you need.

I have put together two workouts that I know are beneficial to any long distance runner. When you work on increasing your strength in your core as well as hips this can help to prevent injuries that are common in runners due to repetitive movements. These workouts can be done on cross training days or added to a short running day. They should take approximately 30-45 minutes at the most. They are a circuit style workout, meaning there is not much rest built into the routine and you go directly from one exercise to the next . The second workout is fun to do with a friend too!

*Always consult a physician before beginning any exercise program. Begin the workout with a dynamic warm up and end with a cool down of static stretches.

WORKOUT #13 sets
Traveling Wide Squats x 12 ea side
Cross Over Lunges x 12 ea side
Single Leg stand ups x 10 ea side
Bands 15 reps each x 3 sets
Shoulder Press
Standing Back Row
Chest Press
3 sets
Crunches x 20
Hip Lifts w/ 1 foot in air x 15 ea side
Lower Back Extensions (super man) x 30
WORKOUT #2Dirty 1/2 Dozen (start at the top of the list and work your way down by adding an exercise then going back up the list. Begin with 10 of each exercise and decrease the number each round until you complete all the exercises)
Push Ups
Hands to Elbows
Sit Ups/ Crunches
Tricep Dips

Give these a try and let me know what you think. After 6 weeks of these workouts you will need to change up the routine. So check in with me if you’d like a personalized program!

Motivation or Lack Thereof

I have a confession to make…I skipped my workout 3 days in a row. I seriously don’t know what’s going on with me because this week I have absolutely zero motivation.


Monday, I finished work and I just didn’t want to go to the gym. Since I had worked out Friday, Saturday and Sunday I figured that was okay, I deserved a break. Then on Tuesday, I was planning on going to the gym but I realized I forgot my gym membership card at home. So while I could have went home and then went back to the gym or worked out at home, I just didn’t. Then Wednesday, I knew I really had to hit the gym after my two unscheduled days off. But the end of my work day came and I found myself driving home instead of to the gym.

I was trying to figure out today why I feel so unmotivated this week. I think part of it is that I am finishing Stage 4 of the New Rules of Lifting for Women and I really don’t like this stage. Part of it is that my races until after Europe are over so I don’t have a specific training goal in mind right now. And part of it this week has been the weather. Mother nature just won’t quit! But really, these are mostly just excuses. What I really need is a swift kick in the behind.

I decided to take my own advice from my previous post, “5 ways to get yourself to the gym when you don’t want to.” And I started looking for some motivational images to get myself pumped up.  





Then I started thinking about inspirational workout people and you know who came to mind…

richard simmons

Richard Simmons was always in the mood to work out! This clip comes from a video of his called “Party off the Pounds.”

Fun fact, I actually met Richard Simmons once. I was volunteering at an Eating Disoders Conference and in the same hotel was the Women’s Health Show where he was speaking. I was working with a lady who was a HUGE Richard Simmons fan and was praying he would walk by us to get to the health show. So when he came down the hallway she ran up to him to tell him how much she loved him. Now I only wish I had a video camera to capture the moment that happened because it was gold. But I’ll give it my best try in words.

He busted out in song…

“If you want to know if he loves you so…”

He tore off his workout jacket threw it to the ground and did a big spun

“It’s in his kiss”

Then he grabbed the lady I was working with and kissed her.

But he wasn’t done. He saw me giggling and shouted “You too!”, ran over to me and kissed me.

It was quite the experience! While he may have been before my time, his energy and love of life was undeniable.

So today I have no more excuses, I’m pumped up on motivatonal quotes and Richard Simmons kisses and I am going to the gym to finish off my New Rules of Lifting for Women!

What do you do when you lack motivation? Have you ever had a celebrity encounter?

FYI Friday – How To Survive An All-Inclusive…Without Weight Gain

All-Inclusives are amazing…you get to enjoy an amazing beach while eating as much food as you want, any time that you want and drinking copious amounts of margaritas. What more could you ask for? Well, you probably could ask to be able to enjoy that without a 5 lb weight gain when you get home.

So I’ll share with you my secrets to enjoying moderation at an all-inclusive. And when I return from Cancun, I’ll share with you if I actually succeeded at my own tips or not.

all inclusive

1. Start your day with a healthy breakfast:

The way you start your day can set you up for the whole rest of your day. What I love about All-Inclusive breakfast’s is there is usually a huge buffet of amazing fresh fruit!! When you are coming from Canada in the winter, a fresh fruit outside of a banana, orange or apple tastes just as amazing as chocolate cake (okay not quite, but it’s really good). So fill up your plate with some fruit & yogurt for a great start to your day.

If the buffet has a fresh omelette station, take advantage of that and start your day with a high protein breakfast.

Skip over the pastry stations and go for whole wheat toast instead. And do your best to avoid the high fat meat choices such as bacon, sausage, ham. Or choose to have them only every second day. It’s all about compromise!

2. Start your meals with a salad:

Many of your meals will be at a buffet, this is where your eyes can become bigger than your stomach! Grab a plate and head for the salad bar first. Once you’re finished your salad, then head to the rest of the buffet. This way you will be less hungry when you are choosing from the rest of the buffet, which will help you with self control and portion sizes. And as a bonus, you are getting your vegetable intake in!


3. Choose dessert at lunch or dinner…not both:

This one is pretty self explanatory. Again, it’s all about compromises. Dessert two meals a day for 7 days a week is going to catch up with you. So try to cut down to once a day. At the buffets, the same desserts will likely be there every day. So don’t feel you need to try every single one on the first day. Pace yourself!

4. Limit intake of high-sugar frozen drinks

This is a tough one and probably the one I have the most difficulty with. Who doesn’t love sipping on a pina colada while laying on the beach? That’s why we go to an all-inclusive in the first place! You don’t need to deprive yourself of your sugary drinks but have a couple and then try switching to a lower calorie beverage. Try rum with soda water and a splash of pineapple juice. You still get that tropical taste but way fewer calories! Or my personal favourite…Mojitos!!

Also the less you drink the less likely this is to happen…


5. Try to get some exercise

Exercise? What??? I’m on vacation and want to relax. While it’s unlikely you are going to be exercising your usual amount during vacation, but planning for even a small amount of exercise every day is going to help you with keeping the weight off.

Most resorts have gym facilities on site. Just a quick 30 minute jog in the morning on the treadmill and then you can have the entire rest of your day to lounge & relax. Alternatively, go for a walk! You have miles of beautiful beach to walk. Walk down the beach and check out other resorts. Find the places you want to go to next or see the resort you’re so glad you didn’t book at. 😉

Take advantage of where you are and swim in the ocean. Exercise doesn’t have to be in a gym it can be fun! Just get up and move. Or join the water aerobics at the resort. Sure 100 people are watching you and you look like a doofus but it’s really a lot of fun! And just think those people watching you are drinking up calories while you’re burning them off!

What are your tips to avoid weight gain at an all-inclusive?

New Rules of Lifting for Women Stage One

As promised, I am ready to post my review on Stage 1 of The New Rules of Lifting for Women. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, see my first post on this topic.

This stage is composed of two workouts.

Workout A:


Workout B:


As you can see, the workouts are fairly simple with a limited number of moves. I liked that because as a newbie to weightlifting I wanted to be able to remember the moves I was supposed to do rather than bringing the book into the gym. The book also provides instruction on how to do each of these moves. For some of them, I would also watch You Tube videos if I wasn’t sure on form.

One thing I found about this stage was that it became very repetitive after a while. In total, you end up doing each workout 8 times. So by the end of it, I was so ready for it to be over and move on. However, I understand why it’s done that way. You really do see progress in the amount of weight that you can lift and that in itself becomes very motivating.

Before, I show you my results and amounts of weights that I was able to lift I should mention that this isn’t the first time I’ve tried this program. I started this program initially in January of this year. However, I got through about half of stage 1 and ended up with a back injury from improper dead lifting form. So this time around I knew I was going to be more careful. Last time, at around the halfway point I was already dead lifting 105 lbs. This time, at the end I still only lifted 75lbs. I know I’m capable of more but I wanted to be very careful and ensure my form was perfect before I added additional weight. I did the same with squats, small increases in weight and focused more carefully on my form.

As I did the workouts I wrote down my weight amounts on a spreadsheet I created. However, for some reason I only included half the workouts in my spreadsheet so it became a real mess.


As a summary, I’ll post my starting and ending weights.

Workout A:

                                    Start                              End

Squat                         45lb                                95lb

Pushup                   All girl style                All man style

Seated Row             40lb                               70lb

Step-Up                    10lb                               25lb

Prone Jackknife   2 legs                             1 leg

Workout B:

                             Start                                  End

Deadlift               45lb                                   75lb

Shoulder Press 10lb                                    25lb

Lat Pulldown     40lb                                    55lb

Lunge                    10lb                                    25lb

Ball Crunch        10lb                                    25lb

As you can see there were some great improvements in my strength. Like I said, I feel I’m capable more with my dead lifts and squats but overall, I’m happy with these numbers. My one challenge is my gym. I go to a very small gym and am limited by the equipment they have. Therefore for some exercises such as the wide grip lat pull-down the weight goes from 55 to 70. That can be a big increase to make. I think I would likely be able to do 60-65 but I couldn’t quite make the jump to 70.

There were a few things I did differently than the book called for:

-I warmed up with a 1 mile run before every workout

-For the ab exercises, the book has you start at sets of 8 and work up to 15. I just started with sets of 15

-Pushups subsequently decrease number of reps, I didn’t see why I would do less, so I always did 30 pushups

-I stretched after every workout. The book makes no mention of post-workout stretching but I completed some everytime

And for results, I definitely failed in this department. Not failed as in I didn’t see results, but failed as in I forgot to take starting pictures and measurements! I did take some pictures about midway through stage 1. So I’ll use that for my before/after. Please be kind, it takes a lot of courage to share these photos.




I promise this picture is me. I cut off my head because I was wearing zero makeup and figured I had bared enough of myself on the internet for one day.





The results aren’t drastic but I definitely notice some improvement and muscle definition. Most importantly, I feel better! Every time, I get ready for the shower and start undressing, I’m like “yeah, you look good!”

Now onto level 2. You only have to do each workout 4 times!  Will post when that level is complete!

Have you ever taken before and after photos to compare your progress? Do you flex your muscles in the mirror every time you shower?