Monday, January 24, 2011

Gut Check Time

So I know a lot of you resolved to lose weight, quit smoking, get in shape, etc., just three short weeks ago as you rang in 2011. So how's that working out for you? I know, it's hard. Frankly it's a lot easier to grab a pizza and watch the big game than it is to cook a healthy meal and go for a hike. But did you know that going on vacation can actually make you healthier? It's true. Numerous scientific papers have been published indicating that more frequent vacations make you healthier, happier, and more productive, and that most Americans don't take enough of them. Now, by that logic, I should be healthiest, happiest, most productive S.O.B. on the planet! So clearly there is more to it than simply getting away and indulging your pleasures. Instead, think of your next vacation as a week (or hopefully more) to actually follow through on all of those things you promised: eat less, walk more, stop and smell the roses, etc.

The first step to getting your vacation off to a healthy start is to rent a timeshare. Almost all timeshares are equipped with full kitchens and dining areas. This is not only more economical than eating out three times a day, but also gives you control over how many and what type of calories you take in. Now I know you don't want to spend your whole trip cooking and cleaning, but you don't have to. Yogurt, granola, and fruit are quick, healthy breakfasts; brown bagging a sandwich and a banana is great lunch on the go; and grilling up some seafood and veggies is a quick and easy dinner. If you want to indulge, have a sensible dessert like a small ice cream cone while taking an evening walk. Another leg up you can get at most timeshare resorts is a fitness center. I am not talking about the lame swimming pool and putrid "whirlpool" you get with most hotel brands; I'm talking a full-on, health-club-style workout. Lastly, many resorts offer instructor-led classes in all types of activities: aerobics, dancing, swimming, and even rock climbing. Take advantage of these during your stay and maybe you can make your cone a double scoop!

Another good tip is to pick a destination that is known for healthy lifestyles. So maybe skip Vegas or Branson this year and hit Santa Fe, NM, instead. That's right, Santa Fe has the cleanest air of any U.S. city according to the American Lung Association, and the CDC reports that it has the lowest incidence of obesity as well. If you like the visual and performing arts - brain fitness - this place is an arts mecca. From Native American traditional arts to American 20th century realism - and everything in between - this town has more galleries per square foot than any place I've every seen. Plus most of them are clustered downtown, where you can walk from one to the next, burning calories and expanding your mind as you go. Just outside of town are the Rocky Mountains and Santa Fe National Park. Not only can you enjoy breath-taking scenery and wildlife, trails of every difficulty from leisurely to psychotic abound. RedWeek members seem to like Villas de Santa Fe, where you can rent a 1-bedroom for $128/night.

Or how about San Francisco? With its hilly terrain and famous trolley cars, you can see just about everything "the City by the Bay" is famous for, without ever getting in your car. And if you do feel like a meal out, San Francisco has more restaurants per-capita than any other city in the U.S. - over 3,500! Surely you can find some healthy options in a selection that size. The Donatello Resort gets 5-stars from RedWeek members and is priced as low as $150/night for a 1-bedroom. You'll likely not find a typical hotel room for that price.

If your tastes for activity run a little more extreme, try Smuggler's Notch. Vermont is rated the 2nd healthiest U.S. state, and Smuggler's Notch has been voted by SKI Reader Survey as the #1 resort for family programs 12 years in a row. Their 78 trails range from bunny trails (my speed) to East's only triple black-diamond (whatever that means). And if skiing is not your thing, this is a full-season resort with hiking, biking, horseback riding, miniature golf and more. What's more, it is home to a brand new zipline canopy tour. Do you know about these things? Yeah, they strap you into a climbing harness and shoot you down a glorified clothesline suspended above the tree canopy at speeds up to 30 m.p.h. Are you kidding me?! Whatever your speed, this place has you covered, and it is no wonder RedWeek members rate it so highly. Rentals start at just $129/night.

Well I am off to my belly dancing class with the resort's instructor. I know what you're thinking and you can keep it to yourself. Belly dancing is not only an ancient Middle Eastern art form that is really good exercise for the entire body, but lots of men do it. Besides, I have to do something to pre-empt the triple scoop of Chubby Hubby I see in my not-so-distant future.

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