A Healthy Holiday – Is it really possible?

I thought I could do it. I thought I could stick to a fitness program during the Chinese New Year holiday. After all, I committed to an 80-Day Obsession program that includes work-outs and a nutrition plan created by Beachbody super trainer Autumn Calebrese.

Prior to the holiday, I completed phase one of the program which included 24 work-outs and a timed nutrition plan. The muscle definition in my mid-section and the toning in my back and arms should have been enough reason to keep me going, but is it actually possible to keep up a fitness program on holiday?


Challenge 1: Accommodation
Our family of four was traveling to Boracay Island in the Philippines for a week and our accommodation included Remington Hotel, our two-bedroom condo at Oceanway Newcoast on the island, and an Airbnb at the Fort in Manila.

I wish all hotels had a gym but the Remington didn’t have one. Thus, I scanned our hotel floor for an open space that was big enough to accommodate the movement needed for Cardio Flow. I discovered that the lobby across the elevator on the ninth floor had an open space with a couch and a coffee table that was small and light enough to move.

In that little corner across the elevators, I did a Cardio Flow-30-minute work-out inspired by animals. Autumn named the movement combinations after animals such as spider push-ups, flamingo, gorilla, crab, bear, mule and frog.

I kid you not. There I was – jumping, planking, and jumping like a mule while other guests loaded their suitcases in the elevator.

When we got to Boracay, our residential area at Newcoast didn’t have a gym either, but a nearby hotel, Savoy, had one. Thus, I went to Savoy to request a week-long gym access which the manager kindly granted for a discounted price of 2,000 pesos (243 RMB) that also included pool access for the family. After working-out under the hot tropical sun beside our condo pool the other day, I took the deal and was pleased with the chance to use equipment again in an in-house location with much-needed air conditioning.

TIP: Research your accommodations. If it doesn’t have a gym, try to find a hotel close by that could offer short-term gym access or be prepared to work-out in the most unlikely of places. My friend Kelly for example worked-out at the Bangkok airport while waiting for her flight to Beijing (now that showed commitment).


Challenge 2: Motivation
A couple of weeks prior to CNY, I started a WeChat group in Beijing for women who wanted to journey through becoming the healthiest version of themselves with a 21-Day Fix Extreme Challenge. A few of us in the group decided to exercise during the holiday.

Kelly messaged, “Worked-out at 11:30 PM.” Wow. If Kelly can have a long flight to Thailand and exercise near midnight, surely, I can find time to prioritize fitness as well.

In addition, Titi, Rebecca, Vanessa, Jasmeen and other women have also started the 21 Day fitness challenge. I want the women in the group to achieve their fitness goals and thus, it drove me to try to reach mine as well.

My husband, Steve and I, agreed to give each other work-out block in the morning. We tagged team between exercising and watching our two daughters, Catalina and Ariella, play in the pool.

TIP: Community and communication with your spouse is key. Find friends or a group who you can be accountable to in your fitness journey. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Find support and also be an encouragement to others. It can be as simple as a we chat group because there will be times when you will need this group to fire you up and inspire you to keep going.


Challenge 3: Nutrition
Autumn’s 80-Day Obsession plan didn’t have a cheat day. It had a strict timed nutrition plan that suggested when to eat and what to eat. Brilliant? Yes. Do-able? Not on holiday in a tropical island.

I’ve been drinking way too many fresh mango shakes while watching my kids play in the sand. It’s what my daydreams are made of when I’m cold in Beijing and thus, I grabbed each chance I got to sip those golden drinks of liquid goodness.

With my parents visiting Boracay, Steve and I also had date nights with some wine, bubbly, thin-crust Italian pizza, triple grilled cheese sandwiches, a few bites of dark mint chocolate, and the Filipino food staple – white rice. All of which were not included in the nutrition plan, not even in the subscribed re-feed day.

It was difficult to control the food so I just tried to eat as much whole foods, local seafood and fresh fruits in the island as I can. I failed the nutrition aspect as I gave myself the flexibility to eat some treats that I didn’t regret enjoying. Daily movement and moderation was my motto and I gave myself grace during times when I chose to gulp down that extra glass of mango fruit shake.

TIP: Plan. Know where to get your food or if needed, bring your own. None of which I was able to do on this trip but could possibly do on shorter trips.


Although I wasn’t able to follow the eating plan to a T, I felt happy with the work-outs that I did over the holiday. I lifted heavier weights on leg day, sweated more than I ever had, and was disciplined enough to prioritize exercise and that I feel was good enough.

Would you like to join our fitness community? A new group of women will start their 21 Day Fitness Journey on March 5. To join the group and get details of the program, please scan the QR code below.


Did you stick to your health plan on the holiday? What challenges do you face in China?

Join the group of other China-focused parents on Facebook by clicking here  or on WeChat by scanning the QR code


Hannah believes in the power of thoughts, the agility of emotions, and the necessity of movement. She’s a chronically curious movement learner, traveler, dreamer, drama educator, master yoga instructor, and podcast junkie. Don’t be surprised if you found her flowing through sun salutations to the tune of Moira Peter’s Brave on the Great Wall of China.

As a global theater artist and wellness advocate, Hannah pioneered and currently teaches the middle school drama and dance program at the International School of Beijing. She also launched the first Drama Yoga Festival in the world, runs Journey to Wholeness wellness retreats, and participates in the collaborative creation of drama festivals as an ISTA Theater Artist.

Hannah is an archeologist of the soul – she uncovers hidden jewels in people and inspires them to connect deeper with themselves, each other and the world, through global and cultural proficiency, drama, theater, and yoga.

WeChat: Hannah_Northcott
Twitter: DramaYogi

Photos: Hannah Northcott, All Rights Reserved, and Pixabay

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