7 Ways I Stayed Healthy at an All-Inclusive Resort in Jamaica
Being a fitness blogger has let me do some pretty rad things and visit a lot of awesome places. But I’d never had the chance to travel internationally before. So when someone from Breezes Grand Negril offered me the chance to check out its Zumba and Pilates Week, August 5 to 11, in, ya know, Jamaica, I had my swimsuit and sunscreen ready and packed before my flight was even confirmed. Seeing that my husband and I have been dying to go on a tropical vacation, we booked him a flight as well and tacked on a couple nights, making this truly a work-pleasure trip.
Located just outside of Negril and about a 90-minute bus ride from the Montego Bay airport, Breezes Grand Negril is an adults-only super-inclusive resort that prides itself on you needing nothing but your room key. Tipping isn’t allowed, you can nosh in six restaurants, drink at six bars and do a variety of water sports (like windsurfing, water skiing, kayaking, snorkeling) and sports (tennis, volleyball, table tennis)—all included in your night’s stay. There is also a pretty rad fitness center, and classes like yoga and the aforementioned Zumba are offered at different times of the year.
And I have to tell you, I felt damn spoiled when I was there. Sure, my room needed a little decor updating (and they are updating rooms, as fellow blogger Fitz of Fitzness had one of them!) and a little bathtub repair, but on the whole, the resort is a great value. It’s not a five-star property (I’d give it a solid three to three-and-a-half stars!), but the food is good, the staff is friendly and it sits on the most beautiful property. With a good-sized beach to frolic on, a couple of pools, Jacuzzis and a spa, it’s kind of heaven.
Mind you, this was the first time I’d ever been to an all-inclusive resort. And I’d heard stories of people who went to them and over-did everything in the eating and drinking department (not usually in this department though, funny how that goes!), so I went knowing that I wanted to cut loose and have fun, but I didn’t want to lose sight of my healthy lifestyle—nor did I want to feel like poo on my week off. And, if I do say so myself, I think I did a pretty good job of that during my six-night stay at Breezes Grand Negril.
Read on for my top tips and how you can do the same when vacationing at an all-inclusive resort!
How to Stay Healthy at an All-Inclusive Resort
1. Follow the mantra, “all good things in moderation.” We preach this a lot, and we mean it—yes, even on vacation. In fact, following this advice is even more paramount when faced with an all-you-can-eat buffet: listen to your hunger, stop eating when you’re about 70 percent full and enjoy eating what you’re really craving! (And the best part of an all-inclusive resort is that if you get too full, you can probably try it tomorrow!) The name of the game is to only eat the treats you really, really want. Skip the rest. So if you order tiramisu or anything else, and it’s not that great, have a bite and then push it aside.
2. Plan some activity for each day. No, you don’t have to have DATPPS, but you should try to work a little activity into each day of your vacay—especially if that activity is something new and exciting that you can’t do at home. For me, that was walking the beach, daily morning open-air Zumba, swimming and snorkeling. No matter what you choose, it shouldn’t feel like working out, rather just having fun!
3. Drink your water. In the land of the all-inclusive, you can begin to think a suitable post-Zumba refresher is a strawberry daquiri. And, yes, you’re on vacation and all, but be sure to hydrate properly and often. In a tropical climate, like Jamaica for me, you sweat more (not to mention how much salt water I accidentally gulped down while playing in the water) and may be having so much fun you don’t realize it. So in between all beverages, guzzle water frequently and choose foods high in water to keep you hydrated, too.
4. Take advantage of the local and fresh dishes. One of my favorite parts of Breezes Grand Negril is that there was always access to big green leafy salads (and even steamed cabbage and veggies for breakfast!) and local fresh fruits, from papaya to watermelon to mango. I was an FBG foodie in heaven! No matter where you’re vacationing, take advantage of the local produce and foods. Fill your plate with the healthy stuff first (about three-quarters of your plate), and then have the rest be protein (I ate sooo much healthy seafood!) and the other foods you’re craving (remember tip No. 1?).
5. Consider a quick morning burst of strength training. On the resort I found that getting cardio was easy. Since our room was on the opposite side of the beach (we had a beautiful view of the water, but it was over rocks), my husband and I spent a lot of time walking from the beach to our room and back again. Add that with the aforementioned activities, and we were set for cardio. However, as we both looove our strength workouts, we’d take time out each morning to do a few moves here and there to wake up and make sure our muscles were getting some love. A quick five-minute circuit of push-ups, lunges, tricep dips, squats and planks did the trick!
6. Fight the urge to have dessert at every meal. Sweets were available every time of day—including the various rum and rum cream (have you ever had rum cream? OMG.) creations the bartenders make. This is both insanely awesome and incredibly troublesome if you suffer from a sweet tooth (like me). I handled it by sticking to just fruit as “dessert” for breakfast and lunch, and then treating myself to one dessert (or splitting two) at dinner. I also gave myself permission to have a rum cream each day. They were just that good.
7. Have a tropical drink, lay around, and don’t feel bad about it. Part of the joy of vacation is getting out of your everyday routine, relaxing and just being. So don’t stress about workouts or how much or what to eat too much. Listen to your body, kick back, breathe deeply and just enjoy. While a healthy vacation isn’t about gorging yourself, it’s also not about deprivation. So find that balance and don’t feel an ounce of guilt for sipping on that piña colada under the palm trees.
In the coming weeks, I’ll share a few of my fit adventures and some of my favorite eats from Jamaica, including a trip to a local market, which was mind-blowingly awesome! In the meantime, tell me: have you ever been to an all-inclusive resort? How did you stay healthy and feeling good despite the temptation? —Jenn