Friday, October 2, 2015

How To Cruise Without Gaining Weight

Mr. Mickey and I are off on another fun-filled weekend getaway so I asked my friend, Donna Hull to share more cruise/vacation tips with you today. 
(Note: her tips work for me every day!)

Don’t Gain Weight on Your Next Cruise

On January 4, 2015, I boarded a cruise ship for the 64-day journey of a lifetime. After months of healthy eating and plenty of exercise, I stepped onto that ship looking and feeling good. At the end of the voyage, I stepped off a ship that served gourmet food and endless pours of wine and champagne having gained less than 5 lbs, and I still looked and felt good. How did I do that? 

A big thumbs up as I arrive on Silver Spirit. I made my weight loss goal with exercise and healthy eating.
 Now to keep up those good habits on the cruise.

First of all, let me clarify—it’s not about the weight. The main focus should always be on your health. But being able to fit into clothes at the end of the cruise is definitely a bonus. And staying slim while having fun is a double bonus. My healthy cruise strategy allows for both and I’m happy to share it with you.

Develop a plan of action

Celebrate your health by bringing the exercise habits and sensible eating you practice at home along on the cruise. Do not follow the thinking: “This is my vacation so I can eat anything I want.” Splurging occasionally is fine; overindulging on a nightly basis is not.

Create an emergency plan of action. If you splurge one night—and you will—know which measures you’ll take the next day to offset that splurge. Don’t wait until the cruise is over!

Pack a tape measure to record measurements every three days. As soon as you notice a creep up, double down on self-control, eating habits and exercise.

Print out a list of positive affirmations that inspire you. Tuck them into your purse. When temptation strikes, read an affirmation from the list before giving in. One of my favorites: “I feel and look great when I’m eating healthy.”

A hiking excursion in Dunedin, New Zealand is a great way to work off calories and have fun!

Stay active

Vow to use the stairs for the entire cruise
Locate the gym and use it
Take a fitness class
Practice a water aerobics routine in the pool or swim laps
Walk the outdoor track
Walk the outdoor track for 3 laps after each meal (or at least breakfast and lunch)
Book the most active shore excursions available
Dance the night away
Wear a step counting device. Don’t go to bed until you’ve reached 10,000 steps. Hint: dancing will really up the step count, so boogie down. 

Eat (and drink) smart

Frequent the buffet for breakfast. You probably won’t find Susan’s power porridge, but there are enough fruit, nut and grain selections to create a cold version. Many cruise lines also offer protein smoothies.

Visit the buffet again at lunch. You’ll find plenty of ingredients for salads or fill your plate with fruit and hard cheeses. On my cruise, I preferred the small desserts at lunch to the ones served at dinner. I enjoyed a couple of bites and then walked off the calories in the afternoon.

Turn down appetizers in the lounge in favor of a bowl of nuts. Bonus points if they’re unsalted.

Fill your stomach with lots of water before starting an evening of drinking and dining. And I substitute club soda and cranberry or pomegranate juice served in a champagne flute for my first evening drink. It’s fizzy and looks pretty in the glass.

Think of dinner as an event. Focus on the ambiance, conversation and dinner companions rather than the food.

Ask for small portions or a half plate at dinner. And skip the breads and starches.

Choose low sodium options whenever possible. My experience is that cruise lines over salt their foods.

Take advantage of the plentiful seafood offerings usually found on ships but ask for sauces to be placed on the side of the plate.

Savor your glass of wine and decline second pours.

Enjoy dessert but stop at 3 bites. Did you know that after 3 bites, your taste buds have been satisfied?

Substitute a decaf skinny latte—a green tea skinny latte is even better—for dessert or order from the low cal dessert menu. Yes, ships have them.

No drinking alcohol after dinner. Sip water instead.

Listen to your body. Suddenly switching from a lean, healthy diet to rich foods filled with fat and calories leads to health problems. Indigestion, heartburn, constipation, headaches, lethargy and sleeplessness are signs to get back on the healthy eating train immediately.

Swimming with stingrays in Moorea is my absolute favorite cruise excursion. I giggle every time they bump into me. It’s another fun way to stay active and work off calories.

Final tip: Once you let your guard down, it’s easy to overindulge. Concentrate on fun rather than food and drink and you’ll return home a healthy cruiser. That’s how I did it. You can, too.

Donna L. Hull writes about active travel for baby boomers at My Itchy Travel Feet, The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Travel. This cruise lover has spent over 300 nights at sea.

Thank you for joining us on this journey through midlife and beyond. The second fifty years are truly the best!

Susan Street is the President of

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