How to get the most out of your summer vacation. Part 1 of 2

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By: Raul J. Rodriguez MD, DABPN, DABAM Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers
Want to have twice as much fun next time you go somewhere on vacation? Getting the maximum enjoyment out of your vacation is as much about how you feel as it is where you go. People have both knowingly and unknowingly enjoyed a trip less because they did not feel good. Everything else could have been perfect but if their body was not cooperating, the total enjoyment could be significantly diminished.
A number of different factors can take a bite out of your vacation pleasure. Going on a trip and feeling exhausted, developed headaches, struggling to sleep, and developing stomach or other gastrointestinal problems can impede your ability to have the best time you were hoping to have. All of these situations can be accounted for to a great degree with proper planning and preparation.
A little planning and preparation can really go a long way in helping you have the most enjoyable vacation you have ever had. This starts with a focus on nutritional and fitness fundamentals that help you feel good. Eight to 12 weeks before the trip is a good time start a regular exercise program or intensify your existing regimen to a minimum of three to four times a week. This will increase both your physical and emotional stamina and improve your ability to adapt to new situations and environments.
Eight to 12 weeks before the trip is also a good time to start drinking at least 50% more water as well as make a conscious effort to eat leaner proteins and reduce sugar and processed foods. This will also increase stamina and improve energy levels. Managing your caffeine by not increasing or reducing what you normally consume will help avoid caffeine withdrawal headaches and fatigue. You can pack caffeine pills to help you match what you normally consume. Pills usually have 200mg in comparison to 100mg for a regular cup of coffee. If you consume energy drinks or soda regularly, then I recommend looking up the caffeine content online so you can match it. On your trip you also want to pack some over the counter Prilosec and antacids in the event of an upset stomach and some Immodium in the event of some loose bowels. Diarrhea, aside from the inconvenience and discomfort, can dehydrate you very quickly.
Hydration is of the utmost importance and the increased water has to continue while on vacation. This is the single most important thing to do of all of the recommendations listed here. Increasing your water consumption when in a new environment also helps you acclimate to higher altitudes and high temperatures. If you find yourself feeling tired or otherwise not feeling well, the very first thing to do is chug water. Even if it is not the complete solution, hydrating well usually helps a lot and helps quickly. Even jet lag symptoms are also alleviated by increased hydration.
(Continued next month in part 2)
Dr Rodriguez is the founder, CEO and Medical Director of the Delray Center For Healing, which offers comprehensive treatment programs for depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse. The Delray Center For Healing also offers integrative treatments such as intramuscular and intravenous vitamin infusions to enhance health and vitality.