The only thing easier than putting on weight during a cruise is losing money in the casino. And if you’re not careful, both are pretty much guaranteed to happen. But during my most recent voyage, I vowed that I was going to find ways to avoid gaining weight. My suitcase was over-packed, as always, but I was going to figure out a way not to pack on extra pounds. As someone whose three favorite things in the world are carbs, sweets and anything fried, it was a challenge. When I got home a week later and stepped on the scale, I’m pretty sure my reaction was similar to that of the infamous dramatic squirrel upon finding out I’d actually lost 10 pounds! So what was my plan of attack? Read on, fellow fat busters… read on!
1. Avoid “common” treats.
If there are two things you’ll find at every buffet on every cruise ship, it’s line-cutters and French fries. Nobody loves French fries more than me, but I told myself that on this trip, I was going to avoid munching on things that could be found at any fast-food restaurant at home. I did make an exception when it came to truffle fries, because those elevated the common fried potato’s game. And while I know a whole lotta people show their O-face at the thought of unlimited soft ice cream, I saved my calories for more exotic treats.
2. Know when to say “when.”
There’s a fine, fine line between “all you can eat” and “all you should eat,” and I did my best to err on the side of the latter. I saw people putting so much food on their plates that if their eyes were bigger than their stomachs, that certainly wouldn’t be the case for long. I tried to avoid my buffet problem areas (Translation: pasta and pizza stations) in favor of salads and meats. I also tried to limit myself to one plate of food. Which eventually led me to realize…
3. It’s okay to be hungry.
Ever sitting around at home, and you realize you’re kinda a little bit hungry, but not really hungry enough to get up off the couch and scrounge for something to eat? Instead, you find something to watch on TV and maybe congratulate yourself on not indulging in a late-night snack. Well, let’s face it: That rarely happens on a cruise ship. It’s tough to be good when you can hear the siren call emanating from the late-night dessert buffet. I tried hard to avoid between-meal snacks… not that it was easy, given that there seemed to be food.. glorious food, just waiting for me around every corner!
4. Keep it movin’.
One of my favorite things to do on a cruise is watch the sun rise and set. In the past, I’d generally done the former from my balcony and the latter from a barstool. But here’s an interesting fact I discovered: both were just as gorgeous when viewed while walking along the promenade deck! So instead of being sedentary, I got into the habit of taking morning and evening constitutionals. I wound up walking so much that I half expected to get a call from the folks at FitBit to call and say, “We’re sorry. Based on the readings coming from your device, we can only assume it’s malfunctioning!”
5. Go out of your way.
By the third day of most cruises, folks on board have figured out the easiest way to get from point A to point B. I opted to take a slightly different approach, turning each venture out of my cabin into a game with absolutely no rules and myself as the only contestant. “Okay, we’re currently on deck 10, aft,” I’d tell myself. “The TV Theme Song is being held in the atrium on deck six, which is midship. You have ten minutes to get there… but can only go down staircases on alternating ends of the ship.” So I’d walk all the way forward before going down to deck nine, then all the way aft before taking the stairs to deck eight. And yes, if you were on my cruise, I was the one sweating and breathing heavily… even as I got every single answer right. What can I say, TV theme songs are my jam!
6. Drink responsibly.
I’m not talking about how many cocktails you wind up having (although you should probably be careful in that regard, too). Instead, I’m talking about what kind of cocktails you wind up having. Nearly every bar on every ship has a mouth-watering array of specialty drinks, and half the fun is picking something with a silly name. (I’m convinced the reason Bahama Mama’s are so popular is because the words are fun to say… and become even more so the more you consume!) But many of those drinks contain gut-busting ingredients. At least when I order a bourbon and diet coke, I know exactly what I’m getting!
7. Step out of your comfort zone.
I can assure you that in my normal life, I would not be attending a Zumba class. Nor would I take a dance class. Yet on my last cruise, I did both of these things. And while the dance class wasn’t exactly high-impact, I still burned more calories than did the folks who sat in the audience watching me and a dozen or so other passengers make fools of ourselves. Bingo is fun, but the only time you really exert any energy is if you happen to win, in which case you get to jump up and yell “Bingo!” Hit your ship’s ropes course. Join the morning mile walkers. Check the daily program, and you’re sure to find all kinds of things that will help get your heart rate up. And remember, every minute that you’re not eating is a minute that you’re… well, not eating!
What’s your best secret for losing – or at least not gaining too much weight during a cruise?