I’ve often heard this humorous saying about cruising and weight gain: “The salt air makes you clothes shrink.” In reality we all know that many cruisers may over indulge in rich foods and desserts that can lead to putting on 5 to 10 pounds in a week or two. The endless dessert buffet is rather tempting! However, with the right planning and discipline a cruise doesn’t have to spoil your weight loss plans, and might even help to promote them. Here are a few tips I’ve picked up over my 30 plus years of cruising.
Weight Loss Themed Cruises
Several different weight loss personalities or companies sponsor weight loss themed cruise groups. Perhaps the best know of these personalities is Richard Simmons who’s Cruise to Lose has been very popular over the years. His exuberant personality and passionate commitment to helping other meet their weight loss goals, have made his program a success for over 30 years. His next cruise event is on Carnival, Sept 25 to Oct 2nd 2010. His cruises feature special dinner parties, work-outs and parties for the cruisers booked as part of his group. His web site, RichardSimmons.com contains all the information on booking, rates and other exclusive activities.
Staying on Your Program
Another way to continue weight loss while on a cruise is to stay with-in the guide lines of your weight loss program. In most cases this can actually be easier than you think. If you are on a moderation/reduced calorie diet like Weight Watchers, they offer a few key tips on their website for cruisers. These include becoming acquainted with the dining room staff not being timid about asking specifically for a particular food prepared a particular way. If the chicken has a cream sauce, ask for it on the side or skip it all together. Their philosophy is to practice all the good eating habits you have learned through the Weight Watchers program like portion control and avoiding extremely calorie rich foods. You can also ask the wait staff not to bring you certain things like bread sticks or skip the potatoes on the side. If your cruise line offers 5 courses every night, choose an appetizer, salad, and entree one night and then appetizer, soup and salad the next. You don’t have to eat every thing in sight. If you are on a low carb diet, you often have many choices when it comes to the main dining room. You can often order a shrimp cocktail, salad, and entree with a side of vegetable and simply skip items like bread and potatoes. On a low glycemic index type diet, then focus on foods that won’t cause you to over eat by causing spike in your blood sugar. Programs like Jenny Craig and Nutri-system which base their program on pre-packaged food also offer weight loss counseling. These counselors should be able to help you come up with cruise vacation eating plan to help you continue in your weight loss.
Even reality TV weight loss programs have tried to debunk the “cruising equals automatic weight gain” myth. To prove that by making the correct disciplined choices passengers really can loose weight while cruising, the popular NBC show The Biggest Looser even filmed an episode with their contestants on board the Sapphire Princess. The important idea is that if you are currently on a weight loss program, with a little bit of forethought, you can enjoy the food on your cruise and still stay on your program.
Don’t Justify Overeating
Many people feel like they have to take advantage of every food opportunity offered by the cruise line by saying “I’ve paid my money, I’m going to get my money’s worth.” Instead, focus on a what a great overall value your cruise provides and how good you’ll feel in not having to come home with extra unwanted pounds. If you were to compare the cost of a cruise to a similar land based vacation with entertainment, accommodations, and transportation between exotic locations figured in, your food portion of your cruise is actually a comparatively small dollar amount so don’t use the price as a reason to over eat.
Another way to counter act the extra calories is to stay active. When you are in port walk as much as possible. When on the ship take the stairs instead of the elevator. Most ships have fabulous fitness centers with work-out equipment and exercise classes that will allow you to keep up your routine that you have at home. Don’t forget that walking or jogging on the ship’s promenade or jogging track can be a great way to take in the ocean views while staying fit. Finally, for those of you who already enjoy a very active life style, some ships offer amenities like rock climbing walls, ice rinks, in line skating, and basketball courts so you have no excuse for not burning off a few extra calories.
The dessert course can sabotage almost any diet but it doesn’t have to. I often order a bowl of fresh berries for my dessert. This is a healthy alternative to eclairs and chocolate cake. One time they had bananas foster on the dessert menu. This is something I have loved since I was a child. I simply asked for a 1/4 portion and then only took a few bites. Don’t forget that you can share your dessert with a table mate, or maybe just ask for an extra spoon so can can have one bite of the chocolate cake your child ordered. At the lunch time buffet you can often satisfy your sweet tooth with some low fat sorbet or no sugar added ice cream.
Careful About Drinking Your Calories
Be a bit careful about liquid calories. Juice, soda, and coffee can really add on the calories. While a small portion of fruit juice at might seem innocent, one cup of orange juice has about 100 calories. Sugary sodas and sugar sweetened coffee and tea also have calories. Water is probably you best choice to drink, but artificially sweetened sodas, tea, and coffee also have very few calories.
When it comes to choosing alcoholic beverages, moderation and smart choices are the key. A light beer, Rum and Diet Cola, or glass of white wine will have far fewer calories than selections like Mai Tais, Pina Coladas or Mudslides. Be aware of the amount of calories in your beverages and limit your self to only a few a day. Your head and stomach will probably be as grateful as your hips and thighs if you limit your alcohol consumption.