How to Have Your Healthiest Spring Break Ever

Spring break and moderation tend to be like Kim Kardashian and low-key: mutually exclusive. Between the club scene, the drinks, the endless waves of attractive people, the drinks, the real waves on the beach, the drinks, the copious amounts of sun, the drinks, the bad-for-you foods and, oh, the drinks, it’s easy to have a fantastic time during spring break—but hard to end it without feeling like your body needs a lifetime of detoxing to get over it all.

After one too many "I need a vacation to recover from vacation" experiences, we’ve learned how to have an awesome time without the awful side effects. Read on to discover our top tips and tricks for having a healthy spring break.

1. Don’t try to lose weight “for spring break”

In the weeks leading up to vacation, the gym is usually full of collegiettes trying to lose weight before they head to Cancun or Miami Beach. We’re big fans of exercise and wanting to look and feel your best—but setting out to drop a couple pounds too quickly for one trip isn’t healthy.

"College women might have expectations of a certain size or swimsuit they want to fit into before they go on break," says Malia Mattox, a nutritionist and wellness coach. "But they can put unrealistic goals into play and set themselves up for disappointment," she says. "When losing weight, you want to focus on overall healthy patterns, not just how you look in a bikini."

You don’t want to have visions of a perfectly flat stomach or toned arms dancing in your head before break, only to be inevitably disappointed when you don’t achieve your "ideal body" in time. Instead, Mattox says you should focus on building confidence and self-love at your current weight. Focus on the attributes you’re super proud of, whether they’re physical or mental.

Plus, if you’re working out extra hard or restricting your diet before break, it will be even harder not to overindulge once you get there. You might think, "What the heck, I’ve earned this," to that chocolate lava cake… and that strawberry daiquiri… and that late-night pizza run… you get the picture.

Rather than going from "fasting to feasting," Mattox recommends establishing permanent lifestyle changes, like staying active and indulging in moderation, that will have your body naturally settling at a healthy weight.

2. Drink lots of water

Okay, so you’ve heard this nugget of wisdom before. But according to Mattox, remembering to drink water is extra important on vacation, because we’re distracted by the new place, friends and activities.

When your body’s running low on water, you get grumpy, tired and headache-y—not exactly the best ingredients for a day sightseeing with friends or dancing at the club. That’s why Mattox recommends always keeping water with you. "Make your water bottle just as important as your phone," she says. "Some of my clients will leave it right by the door so they can grab it on their way out."

She says you can also use digital reminders. For example, set an alarm on your phone for lunchtime asking if you’ve drank 32 ounces (or four cups) of water. Mattox says you should be consuming around 64 ounces of water a day. "If you’re behind at lunch, you can figure out, 'Okay, how am I going to get those 64 ounces in by the end of the day?'" she says.

Alcohol is dehydrating, so should you drink more agua with your alcohol? Mattox says yes! She suggests having one glass of water in between every serving of alcohol—you could have one glass of wine, and then sip some seltzer, then another glass of wine, another glass of seltzer, and so on. Not only will this help you pace yourself when you’re drinking, but it will help you avoid a hangover the next day!

Related: 8 Ways to Remind Yourself to Drink Water

3. Make sure your food intake is balanced

It’s easy to go crazy on spring break. Not only are you with your friends 24/7—which can encourage you to eat more—but you’re surrounded by delicious food. Mattox says there are two aspects to keep in mind: sodium and calories.

What do salty fries, loaded nachos and stuffed quesadillas all have in common? Yup, they’re worth drooling over… and they’ve all got super high sodium contents. Sodium makes us bloat and causes the body to retain fluid. No one likes feeling like a too-full water balloon, so Mattox shares her tips on avoiding sodium while in a foreign land. "Sodium is a preservative, so it’s usually really high in restaurant food, because their food sits around longer," she says. "Instead [of chains], go to local restaurants, where it’s more likely they’ll have fresh food and unprocessed ingredients."

Since your normal eating patterns will be thrown off, it’s also likely you’ll be taking in more calories than usual. Going to local restaurants won’t just help you avoid excess salt—it’ll also help you make healthy choices. Mattox says you should look for whole foods (in other words, foods that are pretty close to how they appear in nature). For example, grilled fish with veggies and brown rice on the side would be an easy, delicious lunch or dinner you could get almost anywhere in the world. "You can also go to a grocery store—either before or after you arrive—and stock up on healthy snacks," Mattox suggests. "I love raw nuts, veggies like snap peas and carrots, string cheese, Greek yogurt, dried fruit and fresh fruit that’s not as perishable, like apples and bananas."

However, watching what you eat doesn’t mean you can’t indulge. If you’re in Spain and you’re craving some flan—go for it! If the majority of your choices are good for your body, the rest of them can be good for your soul.

4. Stay moving

No, you do not have to wake up at the crack of dawn to go for a run on the beach. It’s surprisingly easy to incorporate exercise into your vacation, and you’ll feel much more energized as a result. Plus, some cardio will help you balance out that flan and those margaritas while making unique memories.

"I encourage people to think of the world as a fun playground for exercise," Mattox says. "There are opportunities all around. If you have a chair, you can be doing triceps or bench steps. If you have a wall, do floor or wall push-ups."

Mattox also suggests creating a travel circuit ahead of time that’ll be easy to do in a small hotel room or shared house—check out HC’s fave travel workouts! If you’re staying in a hotel and it has a gym, that’s a convenient way to get your heartbeat up as well.

If you’d rather incorporate exercise naturally into your day, suggest activities that involve movement. "Go for a walk on the beach, or do yoga, or hike, or kayak, or surf, or bike or take a local dance class," Mattox says. "There are so many fun activities!"

She says dancing at the club definitely counts as exercise—so when you and your friends arrive, make a beeline to the dance floor and shake it, shake it like you’re supposed to do.

Mattox advises you not to concentrate on how many hours of exercise you’re getting. After all, you won’t enjoy your vacation if you’re constantly tallying up how many hours of cardio you’ve logged. Instead, just focus on staying active throughout the day.

5. Recruit your friends

You don’t have to go through the battle to stay healthy alone, collegiettes! According to Mattox, having a partner or partners is one of the best ways to ensure you’ll keep that promise to yourself about being healthy. “Social support is huge,” she says. "Accountability is the number one reason why people choose to work with personal trainers or nutritionists!"

Obviously you can’t bring your trainer on vacay (we wish), but Mattox says recruiting a friend is a great way to re-create the effect. She recommends committing to a plan beforehand with your friends—whether that’s drinking enough water, making smart food choices, getting enough exercise or all of the above. "Making that affirmation ahead of time is very powerful," she says. "Also, you can figure out what you’ll need to do to make that plan happen."

Even if your friends don’t want to join in, consider saying something casual like, "Last time I had a crazy vacation, I felt awful for so long after. This week, I’m definitely going to do everything in moderation!" When your friends know you want to have a healthy trip, they’ll be way less likely to pressure you into, say, eating something you’re not hungry for or having more drinks than you’d like. They might even be influenced by your choices.

With these tips, you can have a super-fun spring break without sacrificing your health! Have a great vacation, collegiettes!