What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas; except your weight gain … and the smoke in your lungs.

This September I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Vegas to compete in the 2011 Bikini Olympia fitness model, along with an amazing group of women who came along to support.

Being a non-gambling, non-drinking, non-smoking type, I had never been before. But I was excited, to say the least.

The first few days were easy. I had all my competition food packed. I did cardio every day, even in the airport on the way down.

I stayed in a hotel without a fridge and had my ice packs removed at security, but managed by using ice from the machine to fill my cooler every day and keep things cool. It was messier than usual, but you do what you have to do.

Then, Saturday came. The competition was over and the celebration began.

Did I have a celebratory dinner, dessert, drinks? Yes! Probably a few too many, actually. Did I feel guilty? Nope. Not one little bit.

But the question is not, did I have a healthy Vegas trip, the question is, “Can everyone have a healthy Vegas trip?”

And the answer is, absolutely, Yes! Just like anywhere else in the world, really.

You can make choices and strategies such as these:

Book a hotel with a fridge and microwave, so you can prepare some of your own meals.

Plan a trip to a local grocery store before you travel, to get some fruit, vegetables, nuts, Greek yogurt and/or non-sugar snacks for your time there.

During the tempting breakfast meal, ask for no toast, no hash browns, and don’t go to the fast food restaurants. In other words, you’re keeping your habits the same as at home.

You are most likely going to drink, but by selecting non-sugar drinks or something you enjoy drinking slowly, such as wine, you can cut down on your consumption. Or choose just to not drink every day.

Sweat every day. There is a gym in or near almost every hotel in Vegas. Get up 30 minutes before everyone else and go get your sweat on. You’ll feel better for it.

Also, you’re going to sweat just walking the Strip! So walk, walk, walk everywhere!

There’s a lot of smoke in Vegas, and we can’t do much about that. But try to get outside more. Just like setting a limit to the amount of money you are gambling, set a limit to the amount of time each day you’ll spend inside the casino.

Vegas, in my experience, is really not that different from any other vacation. Make the right choices. Plan ahead. Don’t beat yourself up when you let go a little (because you will), sweat every day, enjoy your time, get rest, and de-stress. After all, that’s what vacation is all about!

This column is provided by Mrs. Lee Randell, independent fitness consultant, who is an ACE certified advanced health and fitness specialist and personal trainer. You can reach her at www.mrsleerandell.com.