How to feel your best on vacation, with Sun Vixen

Prepping for our Corfu adventure

In collaboration with Sun Vixen Swimwear – luxury bikinis in Canada

Although I love to keep active and feel healthy all year round (or, at least I try to!) upcoming dates in the diary such as bikini vacations or photo shoots act as extra motivation for me to stick to my goals. Similar to training for a race, I think of them as like ‘finish lines’ that come and go, and up until that finish line, I implement a fresh, temporary routine into my daily life to get me to where I want to be: feeling my best.

That means, that on the day before our plane takes off, I’m feeling happy with the shape I’m in, both mentally and physically, proud of sticking to my goals, and confident in my new vacay clothes. And, most importantly, I’m feeling healthy and energized.

Let me explain…

It would suck to dream of, save, plan and book that hot weather trip, and then when the time to jet off comes around, you find yourself feeling uncomfortable in your body, dreading having to bear flesh in public, or pulling out those ill-fitting swimsuits from five years ago with a look of  dread.

Pink swimsuit by Agua Bendita
Pink swimsuit by Agua Bendita, from Sun Vixen Swimwear

This post isn’t about looking your best because, darling, you look amazing and unique just as you are!

This is about feeling your best. And when you feel your best, you can act with confidence, concentrating on being fully present and soaking in all the fun, culture, and precious times with loved ones, rather than worrying about your appearance.

And when you act with confidence, you dazzle!

So, here are some simple steps to get you FEELING your best when you set off on your next adventure.

Firstly, I am typically against dieting, as I don’t agree with ‘quick fixes’, calorie counting, macro tracking, using exercise as punishment, weighing yourself, or focusing on being ‘skinny’.

Instead, I’m all for focusing on what you have to gain. Improved health, greater strength, more energy, higher ‘personal bests’.

Goodbye, fad diets and restriction! Hello, sustainable lifestyles, eating intuitively, and welcoming balance.

However, as this is a pre-holiday checklist, it isn’t sustainable longterm (for myself and my schedule, anyway) as it does take a little extra discipline and time. It’s more of a “tone up now, so you can chill out and eat alllll of the food while away” type of plan!

When I follow these steps, it doesn’t take as long to get back to normality post-vacation, as I started off in a great place. It also means I can look back on holiday photos and feel happy with the way I look. And, while there, I’m fully embracing the experience, without dwelling on myself or my clothes.

White bikini by PilyQ, from Sun Vixen Swimwear
White bikini by PilyQ, from Sun Vixen Swimwear

Boost your body positivity

Mindful eating

For the first time this year, inspired by my friend Alicia Haque of the Go Live Explore blog, we decided to not just be mindful of what we ate, but to record our unhealthy snacks or meals. We printed out a calendar showing the four weeks before we took off, and stuck it to our fridge door. We wrote down anything ‘unhealthy’ we ate each day. We deemed ‘unhealthy’ things to include: chocolate, biscuits, cake, crisps, fried food, pizza, burgers, fizzy drinks, milkshakes, and alcohol.

We didn’t tell ourselves we couldn’t eat or drink any of those things, but having to write it down each day definitely put us off, and held us more accountable. I never think of myself as competitive, but I started to relish in the fact I had gone three days without having to write anything down, but Paddy’s column included doughnuts at work! (Teehee!)

We also didn’t calorie count, as nutrients are much more important to me. But, naturally, we began making healthier dinners, packed full of veggies, and our desserts changed from chocolate or cookies, to berries or coconut yoghurt. We certainly didn’t go hungry, but boosted our health and became more aware of what we were putting into our bodies.

White bikini by PilyQ, and mirrored sunglasses by Brass & Unity
White bikini by PilyQ, and mirrored sunglasses by Brass & Unity, both from Sun Vixen Swimwear

Of course, all of this went out the window as soon as we touched down, first in London, then Ibiza, then Rome, and then Corfu. We didn’t watch what we ate at all while away, as we wanted to enjoy all the local cuisine and were often eating on-the-go. However these few weeks of mindful eating beforehand started us out in a good place, and left me feeling confident in a bikini while away.

Elevated workouts

Most weeks, I try to work out at the gym three times, and hit or go over 10k steps per day. Sometimes other commitments get in the way of that, but if I workout less than this then I end up feeling sluggish and ‘bleh’. Particularly as I sit down for eight hours per day Monday to Friday at my office job, and usually sit down when I get home, to blog or watch Netflix. (Sitting down is so bad for you, I know!!)

So, before a bikini vacation, I like to step it up a notch. For me, this means heading to the gym five, six or seven times per week (eek), rather than the usual three times. I get off the bus a few stops earlier to get some extra steps in, and walk to the gym rather than driving up the hill.

My workouts tend to stay relatively the same, but I do notice my strength growing as I increase the weights, and I start to find the workouts easier, or less tiring.

Red halter crop top by Bond Eye Australia
Red halter crop top by Bond Eye Australia, from Sun Vixen Swimwear

I personally love focusing on the following exercises, mixing them up slightly by choosing different ones each day to give certain muscles a rest, and so as not to get bored of your routine:

  • Squats – with a kettle bell
  • Abdominal twists – with a kettle bell
  • Sit-ups – bodyweight only
  • Bicep curls – with dumbbells
  • Donkey kicks – bodyweight only
  • Ab leg raises – on a machine
  • Hip thrusts – with a weight
  • Outer thigh hip abductors – on a machine
  • Cross-trainer – with the resistance turned up
  • A few stretches, such as touching my toes or going into a bridge

I find these exercises work most of my body, and leave me feeling and looking stronger. Sometimes I mix it up depending on how I’m feeling or what machines are free, such as going on the steps machine for a bit, but those are definitely my favourite gym moves.

You may prefer to focus on workouts outside of the gym too, such as running, cycling, dancing, boxing, doing yoga, or playing team sports. And don’t forget that for your muscles to properly recover and grow, you need to schedule in rest days, too.

Also, as a disclaimer, I am not a certified personal trainer, and can’t tell you exactly what exercises will work best for you. That’s why I’m just listing the exercises I like to do, without showing you the proper posture and so on. Please seek the advice of a professional when switching up your workout, particularly if you have any pre-existing injuries, medical conditions, or if you are pregnant.

Red halter crop top by Bond Eye Australia, from Sun Vixen Swimwear
Red halter crop top by Bond Eye Australia, from Sun Vixen Swimwear

Fresh swimwear

Every girl knows that new clothes make you feel great. It’s always nice to feel on-trend and to treat yourself with new pieces to freshen up your wardrobe.

However, recently I’ve tried to be more mindful of what I purchase, for a few reasons:

a) Money – we’re trying to save for a few big things right now, including a new laptop, car, and our first property. So I’m always considering whether I really need the things on my wish list, or how happy they’d truly make me.

b) Having less things actually makes me feel happier, as I feel less stressed in a clutter-free environment. I find it so therapeutic to have regular clear-outs, and capsule wardrobes are becoming more appealing for lots of people – especially those of us who live in one or two bedroom apartments.

c) I’m more and more conscious of the environment, and the negative impact that buying ‘fast fashion’ can have. I’ve heard stories of £1/$1.26 bikinis selling out instantly, and the unpleasant effects these can have. They’ll likely end up in the bin quickly due to their low quality, they’re probably not being sourced ethically, and factory workers aren’t likely to be treated well. Remember – regular polyester is not biodegradable (it is made from petroleum, which is a non-renewable resource), so garments that are made to last, as well as donating/swapping pieces you’re clearing out, is really important. I’d definitely prefer to opt for quality over quantity, and to support more ethical brands.

That’s why I was so happy to hear of Canadian-based online retailer, Sun Vixen Swimwear. They sell luxury bikinis, swimsuits, cover-ups, sandals, hats, sunglasses and other accessories, all from a variety of designer swimwear brands. I love their selection of styles, colours and fits. You can order items from different brands, but only pay a single delivery fee. Also, you get free shipping within Canada on orders over $100 – perfect!

What’s more, as they’re headquartered in Vancouver, BC, there are no steep customs charges or duties on deliveries – whoop! (Anyone in Canada will know the struggle I’m referring to!)

Pink swimsuit by Agua Bendita, from Sun Vixen Swimwear
Pink swimsuit by Agua Bendita, from Sun Vixen Swimwear

I’m wearing a bikini, swimsuit, halter top or sunglasses from Sun Vixen in every photo within this blog post. The white bikini is by PilyQ, the pink one-piece swimsuit is by Agua Bendita, the red halter crop top is by Bond Eye Australia, and the rose gold mirrored sunglasses are by Brass & Unity, all purchased through Sun Vixen. (I got so many compliments for these reflective sunglasses!)

Cue last summer, and I was buying as many bikinis as I could through cheap brands, like the one that rhymes with “jean” and the other one that sounds a little like “kerfuffle”.

Now, I’ve learnt how much better good quality swimwear makes you feel, like the pieces you can find on Sun Vixen. I’ve often found that cheaper garments ‘bobble’, stretch, or shrink really easily in the wash. I’ve worn cheap bikini tops that fit perfectly at first, and then as the day goes on, start to hang loose on me. Not the most flattering – and not great for my confidence! No one wants to keep having to glance down to check they’re not ‘on show’.

What was so refreshing with the items I got from Sun Vixen, was that they stayed in shape and in place no matter what I got up to that day – from jumping in the pool to swimming in the sea, going out for lunch or chilling in the sun. No bagginess, revealing-ness, or see-through-ness. I also didn’t see anyone else in the same pieces, which can be quite common when wearing mainstream high street brands.

So, if you’re looking for high quality bikinis in Canada, Sun Vixen is the perfect place!

And for any men reading this, and for any girls with boyfriends, husbands or brothers, Sun Vixen sells men’s clothes too! I snapped these photos of Paddy in Corfu. His patterned swim shorts are by Sauvage Swimwear, and they made for a much welcomed break from his usual briefs (if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know what I mean!!)

Swim shorts by Sauvage, from Sun Vixen Swimwear
Swim shorts by Sauvage, from Sun Vixen Swimwear

Pamper sessions

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a pretty low maintenance kinda girl. I’m forever wearing loungewear at home, often only wear makeup for work or nights out, and have frizzy hair half the time.

But when it comes to those special upcoming vacations, it’s so fun to put a little more effort in to help you feel your best!

I love treating myself to a hair revamp and eyelash extensions before I go away. Having nice, healthy looking hair can work wonders, and my favourite place to go in Vancouver is Brush Salon.

I’ve only had eyelash extensions twice, but I’d really recommend them! I’m going to aim to have them done before every vacation going forward. What’s great about them, is that you don’t need to worry about wearing any eye makeup while away. No more mascara print on your eyelids in the heat, and no more worrying about your makeup running in the water. You can just ‘get up and go’ in the mornings, which feels so nice! I prefer to get the cruelty-free faux mink half-eye lash extensions.

I used to get spray tans at spas, but now I typically just fake tan at home to save a little time and money. Depending on my budget, sometimes I’ll get my nails done too. (I’m always admiring other people’s nicely pruned nails!)

All of these little things can add up to you feeling your best, so you can just relax, enjoy, and feel confident while you’re away. Guaranteed you’ll get some lovely compliments too!

Pink swimsuit by Agua Bendita, and mirrored sunglasses by Brass & Unity, both from Sun Vixen Swimwear
Pink swimsuit by Agua Bendita, and mirrored sunglasses by Brass & Unity, both from Sun Vixen Swimwear

What’s your routine?

I hope this has helped with your pre-vacation checklist! Do you have a routine you like to follow before you head to a beach or pool vacation? What sort of things do you include? Let me know in the comments below!

Kalami Bay, Corfu
Kalami Bay, Corfu

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