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In Spring of 2018, I recognized a lot of my personal training and nutrition clients vacationed to Disney and returned to Louisiana feeling guilty, as if they had cheated all of their hard-earned progress in the gym and with their eating habits. This was such a trend it was overwhelming, and I felt helpless as a coach and trainer having to rebuild their confidence and take a few steps back to continue with their programming.
My family has taken Disney vacations almost annually since I was a child, so I was very familiar with the struggle of over indulging on Mickey bars and pretzels and skipping the exercise because our days were jam-packed “rope drop to fireworks” style. I knew a more proactive, planning approach to maintaining health and fitness on vacation to Disney was needed. Today, I am sharing with you 10 of my top tips and strategies from my recently published Healthy Disney Planning Guide and you too will be able to experience the Magic of Walt Disney World by bringing home all of the happy memories without the extra pounds!
- Disney Fit Tip 1- Bring a Fitbit or tracking watch and challenge your family and friends to a step contest each day! You will probably double your daily step count at a minimum with all of the walking you will be doing but don’t let that fool you into thinking you can double your snacking indulgences as well. Sadly, the calories in versus calories out do not automatically balance at Disney.
- Disney Fit Tip 2 – When choosing your lodging, choose a resort or hotel with a workout facility if you are a regular gym-goer. Disney has three tiers of resorts, and Value resorts (least expensive) do not have workout facilities. Some of the Moderate level resorts do and all of the Deluxe resorts have those workout rooms. If you are looking for a physical activity outside of lifting weights, here is a list of additional activity options in certain resorts: yoga; volleyball; tennis; surfing programs; swimming; horseback riding; archery; guided fishing excursions; golfing; canoeing and kayaking; bicycles and surrey bikes; basketball; and running trails.
- Disney Fit Tip 3 – When making your dining reservations on your mydisneyexperience app, make reservations based around similar times to your normal daily eating habits. For example, if you practice intermittent fasting at home and don’t eat your first meal until noon or later, then I recommend not booking a character dining breakfast as your digestion will be thrown off and you may not feel pleasant the rest of your day. If you normally eat dinner at 6 p.m., then I recommend not booking an 8:30 p.m. dining reservation. You want to feel full of energy for the parks your next day, not lethargic and sleepy and grumpy because your system does not understand that you are on vacation.
- Disney Fit Tip 4 – Snacks purchased in a Disney park, while beautiful and Instagrammable, are generally filled with sugar and high fat. I encourage you to grab a snack like a grilled chicken skewer from a quick service stand at the Harambe Market in Animal Kingdom or in the Frontierland snacking post out front of the Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom! Disney welcomes you to bring your own snacks and meals into the parks as well and I definitely always have my cooler backpack filled with protein shakes and healthier snacks.
- Disney Fit Tip 5 – Pack workout clothes for every day you will be out of town. You may not exercise outside of walking every day, but when you see those workout clothes every time you open your suitcase you will feel the little nudge to complete your regular habits a few times.
- Disney Fit Tip 6 – Ask your server or the chef for modifications to your meals. No fear! They want to give you the best experience and I have never had any cast member refuse to make a modification. For example, most dishes that come with pasta are about 3 times the amount of an appropriate serving size and you can ask for a half portion of that starchy carbohydrate. If you would like extra vegetables, your server can accommodate that as well. The dish you desire does not come with a lean protein? Ask for a side of grilled chicken or steak or shrimp etc. There is the possibility of an upcharge, but I have never been charged when on the Disney Dining Plan.
- Disney Fit Tip 7 – Disney chefs are wonderful when it comes to allergy friendly meals and preparation. When booking your reservations, you can make specific allergy related requests. Remind your cast member when checking into your reservations that you have specific allergy requests and a chef will come out to your table to go over the menu or buffet and let you know exactly what fits into your request.
- Disney Fit Tip 8 – Review the restaurant menus for your particular dining reservations ahead of time and fill out your Disney Daily Food Diary so that you know what you plan to eat and can balance out your daily meals.
- Disney Fit Tip 9 – Plan in a resort day or a rest day and some down time in every day! Even if you have extra magic hours and are doing your best to make the most of the parks and ride every ride, know in advance, it simply is not possible to do everything Disney has to offer. Come to peace with that and remember when you and your family are well rested and have had nutrient dense meals in addition to some fun indulgences, you will all enjoy each other’s company exponentially more each day.
- Disney Fit Tip 10 – Write down your post trip plan to get back to your regular routine and nutrition habits. Perhaps this means having booked personal training sessions or classes at a gym like Sleek Physique set up for a day or two after you return home. For me this means I order meals from Hostess with the Mostess so that I don’t have to stress about making healthy meals after travel. Whatever you decide to do ahead of time, tell your friends and family about it so they will help to hold you accountable to your goals.
Walt Disney World and the Disneyland parks are truly the happiest and most magical place on Earth, and I know you as a mom or wife or friend want those memories for yourself and your friends and family. For daily tips on health and fitness at Disney I hope you will enjoy and connect with me on Instagram @healthydisney and if you love these tips and want more details then I hope you will enjoy my book, “Healthy Disney, Your Guide to a Fit and Magical Vacation; Volume 1 – The Planning Phase.” You can find my book on Amazon by searching “Healthy Disney” or on my website at www.danyephillips.com. The audio book should be available by the time you are reading this as well. Volume 2 is in the works and will be focused on the Disney Boardwalk restaurants and activities right outside of Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Look for it on Amazon in late June, early July 2019 in paperback and e-book format. If you love podcasting and want to listen to discussion about Disney restaurants and fitness and health tips, then I hope you will join me for some fitness, food and Disney travel discussion at www.danyephillips.com/podcast
Until next time, have a fit and magical Disney day!