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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Surviving A Cruise Vacation With Your Health Intact

Last week I took my first cruise vacation and since we didn't have affordable internet connections, I made no posts.  We went to Alaska and it is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth, remote and unspoiled.  I hope it always stays that way.

Cruises are notorious for being little more than a floating 24 hour restaurant and the reputation is well deserved.  I was impressed at the quality of the food prepared three times a day for around 2000 people plus 900 or so crew members.  I was also impressed by the quantity.  If you are going on a cruise, bring your will power and avoid the floors where the restaurants are located.  Hang out at the workout center and stay on shore every minute possible.

Seriously, a cruise is an overeating paradise where any craving can be indulged.  You need a strategy if you want to walk off the boat, not waddle or roll.  Since the temperatures hovered in the 50's and 60's most of our trip, I found myself needing alot of hot chocolate.  We ate an appetizer, soup or salad, entree and dessert most every dinner meal.  At least the portions were more reasonable than that found in many restaurants but we were still consuming quite a few extra calories.  The ice cream bar was open most of the day and proved a popular spot for cruisers.  There was the main gourmet restaurant, a buffet that offered a vast array of choices, a hamburger grill, the light menu restaurant, another 7 course restaurant, a small coffee shop that served tapas and desserts and two bars.  So as you can see, temptation was everywhere.

So how did I cope with all that food calling my name?  My plan, which I stuck with pretty religiously, was to eat a light breakfast; eggs and fruit, or muesli and fruit.  I loved the salad bar on the buffet so I heaped greens, nuts, vegetables, craisins and oil and vinegar on my plate every lunch but two.  I did over-indulge at night but I didn't drink alcohol every day.  The best thing I did was to enroll in the body sculpting class for 4 out of 7 days.  That was one tough workout and I learned a new exercise routine and some great additions to my ab work.  I am proud to say that one day there were only three participants in the class due to slightly heavier seas; me and two young men, one 19 and one 24.  I kept up pretty well.  But that class was the real reason I only gained three pounds over the whole trip!

So to sum up, here are my tips for a cruise, or any vacation where food temptation is over the top.
1.  Have a strategy before going; for example, plan what you will eat for breakfast and lunch and stick to it.
2.  This is not the time to skip exercise, in fact doing a bit extra pays off so go dancing at night.
3.  Don't buy the beverage package so you will not be tempted to have unlimited sodas or alcoholic beverages.
4.  Avoid temptation by staying away from the food service areas.
5.  Do allow yourself to enjoy your food and indulge some cravings.  Just remember that fresh fruits and vegetables can be delicious too.

                                    One of the many beautiful views in Alaska.

Thursday I'll talk more about the body sculpting class and what I learned.

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