I’m going on vacation soon. I’m super excited about it – a week of no work, all play. There will be scuba diving, snorkeling, being by the ocean. There will be games with family, shows, entertainment, dancing, lounging by the pool and reading. I cannot wait so hard, I actually lost sleep over it one day last week. Christmas morning syndrome… I guess you still get it at 37 years old…
I love to be on a boat!
However, the fact remains that I’ve worked hard this spring and lost some weight and want to continue to make progress. Slightly related, a huge part of cruising is the sheer amount of AMAZING food and drink available. Not just available… but kinda sorta of pushed on you. I’ve gotten better about this in my daily life. If it were up to me, I’d be ready to make the cruise more about fun and less about food.
However, I’m traveling with family, and they are REALLY into the food part of cruising. Their favorite part is the fancy sit-down dinner every night, and they tend to do breakfast, lunch, snacks, ice cream, and extra post-dinner buffet sometimes as well. If I follow suit, I’ll gain all the weight back, and I’ll probably end up throwing myself off the side of the ship.
To keep me from being fish food, I’ve come up with some strategy on how to do the all inclusive thing without gaining a bunch of weight.
More books, less pancakes…
I plan to skip breakfast every day that I can. I know breakfast is the most important meal of the day blah blah blah, but the problem is the cross section of a) healthy breakfast food I like and b) food they serve on a cruise includes fruit, and perhaps some turkey sausage and that’s about it.
I’m HOPING to do that by avoiding it altogether on sea days. I don’t plan to get up before 10am on vacation unless I have a good reason to do so. I’d like to start my mornings when we aren’t in port with a little gym session, and if I have more time to kill, relax and read by (or go swim in) the pool. I’m going to tell my family about my plans. However, if I *have* to join someone at breakfast, I’ll just grab a coffee and maybe some fruit and bide my time until lunch.
The exceptions are: shore days and the last day. On shore days, I’ll be up and out playing before the noon lunch bell, so I’ll probably split my calories and have a small breakfast and lunch. The last day, I’ll splurge and eat whatever I want for breakfast, because pancakes are fucking yummy and I’ll be home for a healthy lunch/dinner.
Salads will be key here… maybe *slightly* smaller though…
The great thing about cruise food is that they have tons of vegetable-filled options available at the lunch buffets. There’s a lot of unhealthy stuff as well, but it’s generally easy for me to fill my plate with mostly good stuff. Lunch should be the easiest meal for me to navigate as long as I make good choices and eat reasonable portions.
My strategy: start with one plate, half full of vegetables or salad, a quarter full of good protein, and then the last quarter can be whatever I want. If I’m still wanting food, I’ll get one more soup-sized item (soup, or something that fits in that bowl).
If I’m still hungry after that, I need to calm the fuck down, take ~30 minutes to digest and drink a bunch of water/tea/coffee/whatevs, because no matter what the content of those plates were, that’s plenty of food. I’m now eating things only because they’re around, and none of us want that (because you’ll have to listen to me bitch about my weight that much longer).
If I’m still hungry after that – see the snack section.
You don’t pass this up, but maybe you accommodate by eating lighter the rest of the meal.
Dinner is a little trickier, because with the family, it’s formal dining at a set time (5:30pm), served in courses, all at the breakneck speed of whomever eats the slowest at the large table. It’s going to be a challenge, so I have to be smart and have a plan here, or I can easily consume a full day’s calories in one meal.
Rolls and butter are served before dinner, and great bread is my fucking kryponite. If they’re amazing, I’ll indulge. If they aren’t, I will attempt to skip it.
Then, comes appetizers and entrees. If I’m debating between main courses, I’ll always pick the one that sounds like it has the least calories, but I won’t forego something I really want for something I don’t. For appetizers, since lunches are going to be very salad heavy, I’m skipping those in the dining room. I’ll choose either one or two appetizers/soups, depending on how light it sounds, and what else I’ve consumed that day.
As for dessert – I’m going to listen to my stomach and my heart. If I’m full – just coffee. If I’m not stuffed, or there’s something I *HAVE* to have, I’ll order it and attempt to eat just enough to get a taste of it. I’ll consider this an opportunity to get better resisting eating things just because it exists.
Trying to concentrate more on the scenery than the eateries…
Here be dragons. Even if you manage to eat sensible meals, there’s always other ways to completely overeat. Room service breakfast. 24-hour snack station with sandwiches, cookies, deserts, etc. Burgers and dogs and fries at the pool. Pizza parlor. In between buffet lunch and dinner is a magical thing called the snack buffet and sometimes there’s the midnight chocolate buffet. Dinner buffet after formal dinner. Late night room service. It doesn’t end.
While these indulgences are all tempting, the fact is, I’m losing weight by giving up snacks at home, so I plan to mostly stick with that on vacation.
I’m enforcing one and only one rule here. First, I must check in with myself, and ask if I am really and truly hungry right then. If “I could eat” or “that looks yummy” or “that smells good”, then I’ll get myself some coffee, tea, or water. If I am actually going to eat a deck chair, I will get myself a fucking snack and probably eat a little less at the next meal to compensate.
It sounds counter intuitive on an all inclusive situation like the cruise to bring my own snack options, but I am. I’ve got some mini bags of pretzels, pita chips, and jerky. I may not touch them at all. Hear me out. I think it could save me a bunch of calories when I just want a SMALL snack and don’t need something like a plate at the buffet.
Cheers to Belize beer!
I would like to strike the balance of enjoying myself and not sabotaging the rest of my efforts. Things I have to remember:
- Bar drinks are way more potent than you make at home. Drink them slower and have a water between each.
- Stay away from the fruity drinks and heavy beer (as the rule, the rare exception is another story). Stick to liquor either with soda or on the rocks, wine, or light beer.
- While there will be imbibing, it’s also something I can do just fine when I’m NOT on vacation. So enjoy, but not to the point where I waste a day hungover.
You’re naturally pretty active on the cruise ship because you walk everywhere, but I’d like to make sure I keep the kind of activity up that I have now:
- 10k steps per day. Non negotiable. Cruise ships and ports provide AWESOME walking opportunities and there is zero reason this should not be effortless.
- 2-3 weights sessions (there are 3 sea days…)
- Maybe some stationary bike or elliptical during sea days just for funsies unless that ends up being lame.
- Go play outside on the ship – water slides, rock climbing, wave rider, etc.
- Snorkeling, scuba, and adventuring in port, oh my!
The great thing about not recovering from a marathon on a cruise ship is that I’ll have tons of energy to go do all the things. I’m really looking forward to it!
And when it comes down to it – I know what I’m going to look back on in years to come and it’s not really the food. I remember dancing with my husband until 3am until the DJ kicked us out. I remember winning just about every single card and domino game I played with the family one year (and one year I didn’t win once until the last day). I remember the descent on my first dive ever in Bonaire. I remember playing the Yes/No gameshow as a family and doing horribly.
Yes, I remember the food as a whole, and yes, even some specific dishes come to mind, but not even the amazing steak and lobster dish compares to chasing down a stingray in Cozumel. So, this time, I’ll focus more on that, because chasing fishies is calorie free.