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    On a Cruise, Maintaining and Losing Weight


    LAS PALMAS, SPAIN - Aboard the Regent Seven Seas Mariner: Finding a scale on a cruise ship is like looking for a clock in a casino. They don't have them. They're bad for business.

    Think of a cruise, and food comes to mind. It's usually excellent and abundant. A travel agency poll found that passengers on average gain 13 pounds on a two-week cruise.

    I've taken about 30 cruises over the last 20 years and I've gained weight on all of them. Following a lifetime struggle with weight, I was able to lose 30 pounds before this cruise, a 17-night crossing from Monte Carlo to Rio de Janeiro on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner.

    I was determined to keep the weight off, perhaps even lose a few more pounds, but how? I've sailed on this luxury line 10 times. Everything is included in the cruise fare -- all the food, alcohol and wine.

    You can get anything to eat anytime you want it. If what you want isn't on the menu, they'll make it for you.

    I also have a butler, Soumya; yes, a real butler, who brings food to my cabin every afternoon. And the last thing you see at night are chocolates on your pillow. How could an overweight person like me resist all this delicious temptation?

    The key for me is that this time the will to succeed has to be greater than the weakness to fail. I still have another 30 to 50 pounds to lose, and I didn't want this cruise vacation to set back the progress I had made on the first 30.

    I decided I could use the food component of the cruise to work in my favor. Yes, they would prepare anything I wanted to eat, so I could make sure there was always something healthy on my plate.

    That doesn't mean eating only cottage cheese and sprouts. You can have normal meals. Just favor fish and chicken over red meats. Don't deny yourself anything. Just make healthier choices.

    In the first six days of this 17-day cruise, I have had beef twice for dinner and veal once. The rest was fish or chicken. The two beef dishes were small portions, about four ounces. The veal was Osso Buco, but it was prepared from the cruise line's "Canyon Ranch Spa" menu. The veal dish was 490 calories.

    Strangely enough, I have not felt deprived. One advantage of being on the cruise is that the fish items on the menu are so good and so varied that I don't mind trying them and passing up the heavier meats.

    If there is a sauce on the fish, I'll eat the sauce. I also eat a few servings of bread each day. And I'll either order the low-calorie dessert or take a bite or two from a regular dessert. That way I'm not denying myself anything.

    After six days on the ship, my clothes weren't getting any tighter but I needed a way to make sure I was on track. One morning I asked my steward if he could find a scale for my cabin. He said he might be able to locate one by evening.

    That evening, there was a scale in my cabin. I didn't get on it until the next morning. I held my breath and stepped on the scale. It was broken.

    I have eaten two nights at the ship's steak house restaurant, Prime 7. The crab legs, shrimp cocktail and tuna tartar are very healthy. So is the lobster if you go easy on the melted butter. And you can order healthy sides like mushrooms and green beans and skip the twice-baked potato and fried onion rings.

    It's the steak that will get you if you are not careful. I ordered the surf and turf, lobster tail and filet mignon, the first night. But I probably overdid it even though the beef was only four ounces. The rest of the steaks can range from a 10 ounce fillet to NY strips, porterhouses and prime ribs, about a pound each. That's a lot of beef and a lot of fatty calories. I know because that's what I used to eat.

    The biggest adjustment is being willing to eat at a steakhouse and have fish while everyone else has red meat. During our second visit I ordered grilled perch as my entrée. It was good and I didn't feel disappointed. I passed up the key lime pie and cheese cake and had mixed berries. But I did have one of the little pre-desert chocolate cakes they brought to the table.

    A new scale has appeared. A close inspection finds this one only registers in kilograms. I'm going to have to go on line to find out how to convert.

    I make it to afternoon tea every day, popular with my friends who like to play trivia. But afternoon tea is another opportunity to eat sweets. Scones with cream and jam and plenty of desserts. But fruit is also available and as long as my willpower remains strong I take the fruit, maybe once a little taste of a profiterole.

    Last night was dinner in the gourmet French restaurant, Signatures. Watching what you eat there was easier than I had expected. There were scallops, lobster, crab and salmon on the appetizer menu, all healthy choices. For the entrée there was halibut. I stayed away from the beef with foie gras. Dessert was berries, with a little taste of one of their regular desserts of marinated figs.

    It has been three weeks since I weighed myself. During that time my regular schedule has been disrupted. There was a trip to Cleveland to cover a presidential campaign event, followed by a trip to western Maryland to cover the snow storm caused by Hurricane Sandy, then a drive to Richmond for election night coverage. And the same day I returned from Richmond to D.C., I caught the plane to Europe for the cruise which I have been on for almost a week.

    I finally get on the scale and see my weight in kilos. I know to multiply by 2.2. My weight remained the same. I didn't gain anything in the last three weeks. I'm happy with that. I never expected to lose weight with all of that traveling going on. But now, I can work on trying to lose a few more pounds.

    In part two I'll venture to a place I've never been on a ship in 20 years of cruising, the fitness center, otherwise known as the exercise room.

    By Tom Giusto, ABC News

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    Wow, I am so impressed that you made so many good, healthy choices. Your willpower is amazing- just

    to be able to eat a bit of the the regular dessert and not finish it off or go back for more. Your writing is great. Looking forward to part 2. Keep up the good work! I need to learn from you- everytime we go on a four day cruise, I come back 6 pounds heavier, though I do realize that a bit of that is fluid retention from all the salt.

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    We have our weaknesses on every cruise line – pasta on Princess, dessert on Carnival, breadsticks on Celebrity – and we don’t deny ourselves our favorites. But we do eat plenty of fruits and vegetables too and we take the stairs as much as possible – sometimes even when it’s eight decks!

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    Love your writing.

    One of the biggest "weight gains" about cruising is the sauces, butter, salt, etc. Most of the time, our holiday weight gain is temporary. Once we get back home to plain cooking, the pounds come off.

    I agree that we all need to select more fish, fruits and veggies. Pretty much all of the time. As for desserts, if you can eat them, GO FOR IT!! You won't get those types of choices at my house.

    Jerry and my biggest downfall is we think we're drinking a lot of water, but we aren't. The rule of thumb is half your body weight in ounces daily. I am really good about that at home. Not as good on cruises.

    I look forward to reading more of your posts.

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    A scale in each cabin, guys! Isn't it a good idea :wink2:

    I tried to find out something to cheer you up - here are some interesting ideas about cruising, losing weight and staying fit while on a cruise ship.

    I think that the most important thing is moving up :thumbup:

    Write what you think about it!

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    Chrissy always makes fun of the fact that I either lose or maintain my weight post cruise!! I allow myself to indulge in EVERY food item the ship can (literally) throw at me!! I don't watch what I eat and I don't work out onboard (never really understood the "exercise" thing on a cruise). I think it's the "roaming" I do on a cruise. I try to investigate every inch of the ship so I will walk bow to stern, port to starboard and low to top deck. When you think of it, that's a lot of ground to cover! I also tend to take excursions where there can be a lot of walking involved since I love to take in the local sites and history. Granted, I also like my beach time :wink2: . Chrissy on the other hand tends to enjoy her down time and reads books or her kindle. Every "body" is different and I'm just lucky enough to be nosy where my activities are exercise within itself! My point, enjoy your cruise and worry about it when you get home!! :biggrin:

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    Good points, Sarge.

    Although I've been on a weight-loss plan recently, it'll all be shot to pieces once I pack my bags and leave on our next cruise or land vacation. There's just too much to do, see, and, dine on :tongue: to worry about calorie counting. We like our quiet times with a book or blog writing on board, but usually walk the jogging track or promenade (if there is one) for some exercise first thing in the morning. That way I feel I've burned some calories - especially on sea days. Our port visits have lately involved a lot of walking and helps to counteract any overeating we do on board. :smile:

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    Enjoyed your article...I am thinking about my coming cruise in September. I am dieting right now, but, thinking that on the cruise I will have what I want but, in moderation. I don't get a lot of exercise at home and the extra walking on a cruise usually helps me keep from gaining. Love the pina colaldas, but also only have drinks in moderation...usually two is my limit anytime, and I usually don't have anything after dinner...food or drink. Hoping to lose before I go, and not gain then, or after. Usually the hardest thing for me is after the cruise since I'm used to having what I want on the cruise, and also some yummy desserts...have to realize that the cruise is over and I can't keep eating like that with little exercise.

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    Gymbrat once posted that part of the weight gain is due to the high salt content in the foods. That should make us feel a little better. :laugh:

    I don't use the gym very much, myself, when I'm on a cruise. I do enjoy walking the promenade for several laps, and taking the stairs as much as possible. Also saves time waiting for the elevator.

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    Kevin...I agree with Gymbrat on that one...I do think we get a lot of salt from foods from the ship, or from just eating out at restaurants at home. My ankles swell up a lot when on a cruise, and I've heard of others that that happens to, so, it seems to be the salt, also the humidity. When that happens I just drink all the water I can for a couple of days and the swelling goes down...have to balance the salt and water.

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