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Jason

7 Ways on How To Stay Thin When Cruising

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It's pizza and croissants and desserts, Oh My!

There's nothing like luxury cruising. But as my husband Bill would tell you, "There's a cookie around every corner." It's absolutely no fun to disembark a ship when you're 10 pounds heavier than when you got on. Let's face it, when you travel -- even in lavish luxury -- your diet-and-fitness routine usually takes its own vacation.

It’s easy to see how it happens: In their desire to pamper and delight you, luxury cruise lines offer oceans of opportunities to eat, eat, eat – with belt-loosening breakfasts, lard-laden lunches, and calorie-ascending dinners, along with snacks and room service of pizza, ice cream, coffee drinks, cookies, and everything else on the fattening food chain. On all-inclusive cruises, your wine and fruity cocktails are also in the mix -- literally. Those tactics will certainly ensure that you never again fit into your made-to-measure Chanel suit or your custom silk jacket from a high-end Hong Kong tailor.

Keeping the pounds off and staying fit on any cruise line is always a challenge.  There's an old anecdote that the average weight gain on a cruise ship is one pound per day.  Yikes! So, how to not get fat on a cruise ship -- especially an extended cruise or World Cruise? Try these tips so you don’t get detoured on The Road To Sveltesville. Here’s how -- and believe me, you won't miss the bloat, especially when you wear all of your new designer resort clothes.


1). Prepare In Advance.

After booking your cruise and prior to boarding, let the cruise line know that you crave special dietary requests. Typically, my husband Bill and I, before boarding, ask for nonfat, 90-calorie yogurts, 30-calorie almond milk, and 35-calorie diet bread, to be available for us, and placed in the refrigerator in our stateroom. At lunch we will typically bring the bread with us, instead of being tempted by the oh-so-delicious hot loaf on the table that's fresh out of the oven. Edie Rodriguez, a veteran cruiser who's worked in the industry for more than 30 years, and Brand Chairman, Americas, for Ponant cruises, says, "Staying thin on a cruise ship is a constant battle and a challenge." Her strategy? Not eating any bread, and drinking lots of water.  She adds, "You can order healthy options on a cruise ship if you have the discipline -- and you don't order the chocolate lava cake."

When onboard, I also request nuts, fresh fruit and raisins to be delivered to my stateroom, so I always have options that I can indulge in, after skipping breakfast and having a light lunch. I'm a diehard dieter, and even at 62 years old I'm still a size four -- and these tactics really work for me. Believe me, it's not easy -- but it is doable if you set your mind to it.

2). Bring Your Own Slimming Snacks.

Yes, cruise ships offer an overabundance of food, usually loaded with calories. But if you want to indulge without the bulge, bring some of your own healthy snacks, so you’re not tempted by pepperoni pizza at 3 PM, an hour or so after you’ve eaten lunch. I always bring smart snacks when I travel, especially because I always require fuel before my 5PM daily one-hour workout. (At hotels, these are also very good choices instead of the overpriced and fattening selections in the minibar.)

3). Order Special-Request Foods.

Right after embarkation we typically meet with the chef, to tell him that we always crave low-calorie, non-fat foods, and to see what he can create for us. In fact, many luxury cruise lines even have a dedicated “special-request chef,” who is there to accommodate your needs – whether it’s for gluten-free, sugar-free or low-calorie foods. Here’s what else we do: Since we love a good tuna fish sandwich, we go on board with our own jar of lowfat mayonnaise, which the Food and Beverage department stores in their kitchen refrigerator. That’s what the chefs use when they make our special-order sandwiches for lunch, and they’re guilt-free and gourmet. It's just like having your own private chef.

4). Bring A Special Low-Cal Recipe.

Perhaps you have a favorite low-calorie item from the Hungry Girl website? Or you just love Grandma’s tomato sauce? Or want a beloved veggie burger? Bring the recipe onboard, because cruise lines are all-too-happy to accommodate your special requests and serve you something extraordinary. Luxury cruise lines love going the extra mile to offer you outstanding service and cuisine -- it's a point of pride.

5). Order Healthy Dinners.

Many cruise lines today offer special lowfat items on the menu. In fact, on Oceania Cruises, which has a Canyon Ranch SpaClub onboard, there are even delectable low-cal Canyon Ranch spa entrees on every menu (also listing the calorie counts and nutritional information). For example, a sample dinner is mixed greens and watercress with mustard-seed dressing (55 calories); clear capon broth (100 calories); and entree of steamed Maine lobster with saffron rice (330 calories). Try it – it won’t feel like a diet. Thereare also a huge variety of vegan options on Oceania -- everything from chocolate-cherry muffins for breakfast, lunch of gazpacho and lasagna, and dinner of stir-fried veggies in coconut milk and lemongrass. No matter what you order, you’ll get the full plate of fantastic. These healthy choices definitely do not feel like denial.

But if nothing on the menu floats your boat, just do what I do: I happily order lean protein (such as a grilled rosemary chicken breast or shrimp loaded with herbs), a dry-grilled vegetable, and a baked potato (yes, with butter) plus a bowl of fresh berries for dessert. Voila! You can also bring your own packets of fat-free salad dressing, and save calories, since many cruise line salad dressings can be high-calorie. I order my packets through  the travel-sized superstore minimus.biz. I also bring flavored water packets, so I’m not tempted by fattening umbrella drinks. I also typically have a standing order, every night, for lowfat ratatouille, the French dish of squash and eggplant in tomato sauce. This delicious vegetable side order makes taste without the waist. If you must indulge, and the creamy risotto is calling your name, try this: Take just two bites of something sinful and savor every mouthful. Your thighs will thank you for it.

6). Do What Veteran Cruise Experts Do.

Mary Jean Tully is the owner of Tully Luxury Travel, an award-winning travel agency that is the Number One luxury cruise seller in North America. What does this avid cruiser do to stay thin? Ms. Tully told me that she has the waiters leave the bread off the table so she obviates temptation, and usually orders the spa cuisine. Next, she pre-books and pre-pays her exercise sessions with a personal trainer on the ship, so that she’s committed to working out – and can’t back out. That tactic ensures that she stays fit and trim.

In addition, most luxury cruise lines have fabulous gyms where you can exercise to your heart's content, and even take complimentary yoga and Pilates classes to burn calories.

7). Walk The Decks.

Even if you hate to exercise, it’s fun and easy to walk the upper decks of a cruise ship, to show your body who’s boss. Tasting the salt air, admiring the view, moving your body – and still fitting into your Dolce & Gabbana bathing suit – that’s a good feeling. Afterwards, reward yourself with a professional massage in the spa. Another tip? Skip the cruise elevators and always take the stairs. Remember: One of the great benefits of exercising every day is that it lets you eat a little bit more, so you can treat yourself now and then.

8). Save The Best For Last.

Luxury cruising will seem even more special if you save your calories, and then indulge just one or two times with a favorite entrée, a fattening cocktail, or special dessert (or both). I usually plan on eating a high-fat food -- such as decadent carrot cake or Nutella gelato -- for the last day of the trip, or the second-to-the-last day, so I have something really noteworthy to look forward to throughout the sailing. The upshot? I get to return home – without any guilt – and without having to go on a diet. If you're like me, you'll appreciate that you can still fit into your skinny jeans, even when vacation's over.

Debbi K. Kickham is author of 'The Globetrotter's Get-Gorgeous Guide.' Follow her on Twitter at @SATWgal.

By Debbi Kickham, Forbes
Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more
For more cruise news and articles go to https://www.cruisecrazies.com


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Wow, excellent tips. Didn’t realize cruise ships were so accommodating. I can’t picture myself bring the mayo and snacks . I guess if you’re really determined, it’s possible to keep the pounds off but for me, it’s always been a pound up per day. I really do need to try some of these tips. Great article. 

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I choose the healthy options that they offer.  I drink lots of water, and have a Virgin Pina Colada or two during the whole cruise.  I don't eat fried or salty foods, but I must eat chocolate desserts on a cruise with every meal.  If I eat whole wheat bread for breakfast or at dinner, I don't put any butter on it.  When I eat pasta, I eat the ones made with red sauce.  I don't like creamy sauces.  I also bring my chocolate protein bars with me because I'm up at 5am every morning and breakfast doesn't open up until 7am.  I eat what they have available that's healthier, but will not make special requests to the chefs,  I think that's going a little too far.   I also exercise at the gym everyday, and always use the stairs, never the elevator. 

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I really need to do the stairs , rather than elevators. Also, my walking on the Promenade Deck is certainly not as good as going to the gym and working up a sweat. So, now I've got a couple of goals for our next cruise. Thanks for the tips, gymbrat. 

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It's pretty hard not to enjoy all the great meals, and deserts when cruising...in the past I have just tried eating smaller portions and less of the fancy foo-foo drinks.  Just the walking around the large ships would help me then since I didn't get a lot of exercise at home.  I think my first cruise was the only one that I gained weight on...back when they had the midnight buffets, and just ate too much too often...learned then that it's too much food, and just eat less, but what I want...and only have a fancy drink once in awhile.  The walking always helped me.  Today, if I am so blessed to be able to go again, I may need a go-cart...LOL  so would really have to watch the eating.  Have spinal stenosis with bad discs and arthritis in the spine so it's very hard for me to walk or stand for too long...and the walking is what always helped me to keep from putting the weight on.  My husband's first cruise was our honeymoon cruise and he used to order two meals sometimes if he couldn't choose, or they both sounded so good.  He came home with ten extra pounds...he also learned a lesson from that cruise.  LOL  

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I actually went to the gym on my last cruise - not just once, but twice, when my husband dragged me out of bed to go with him. Other days I always made a point of circling the promenade a few times. I tried hard to eat in moderation - as I get older, I can’t eat huge amounts of food, thankfully. I came home with only 2 extra pounds, which was a record for me. 😎

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1 hour ago, Shari2 said:

It's pretty hard not to enjoy all the great meals, and deserts when cruising...in the past I have just tried eating smaller portions and less of the fancy foo-foo drinks.  Just the walking around the large ships would help me then since I didn't get a lot of exercise at home.  I think my first cruise was the only one that I gained weight on...back when they had the midnight buffets, and just ate too much too often...learned then that it's too much food, and just eat less, but what I want...and only have a fancy drink once in awhile.  The walking always helped me.  Today, if I am so blessed to be able to go again, I may need a go-cart...LOL  so would really have to watch the eating.  Have spinal stenosis with bad discs and arthritis in the spine so it's very hard for me to walk or stand for too long...and the walking is what always helped me to keep from putting the weight on.  My husband's first cruise was our honeymoon cruise and he used to order two meals sometimes if he couldn't choose, or they both sounded so good.  He came home with ten extra pounds...he also learned a lesson from that cruise.  LOL  

I'm so sorry about your stenosis and arthritis.  My mother also has arthritis and gets a lot of back pain when she walks long distances.

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I am also so sorry to hear about the stenosis and arthritis, Shari. It does sound like you do have some control over your eating, more than I do. I like to sample everything, which is why we always eat at the buffet. Also, we don't want to be confronted with the bread and butter . We like to go to the buffet, eat and get out quickly. We don't like to sit for long in the dining room. However, on a four day cruise, I do come home at least 4 pounds heavier, although half of it comes off during the week when I  resume my usual eating. I think , also, a lot of it is salt and retaining fluids. 

Wow, Jan, only 2 pounds. Congratulations, that's excellent. I would be thrilled with that. 

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Olga...thanks for the nice comment!  I don't think I would ever be able to do all you do to stay in shape.  You are amazing!  I am so sorry that your mom also has arthritis in her spine...hope she will be ok.

Jan...you're doing great, going to the gym, walking, and eating less...only 2 pounds on the last cruise... which was a longer one, is great!

Cheryl...thank you for the nice comment. On the eating...actually, I have very little self-control.  Just getting off of a diet... off and on for 6 months, and only lost 18 pounds...and now that I'm off again, gaining again.  Some days it seems hopeless, but can't give up. You may be doing it right by eating at the buffets, I used to think we ate too much at buffets, but now it seems that we can control the amount we eat a little better, we just have to tell ourselves not to take everything, just what we want the most, and smaller portions...well, it sounds good anyways...LOL

 

Edited by Shari2

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Thanks so much, Shari!  She used to sail on 7 day cruises, then decreased it to 4 days three years ago because she gets too much back pain.  She wanted to try the Vista last July so we went on the 6 day one, and I will be taking her again this July for her birthday cruise on the 6 day Vista.  To alleviate her back pain, she exercises and eats healthy a few months before the cruise, and it really helps.

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