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Cruise Ship Madness
How to fight the fat at sea.

Cruise Ship Madness - How to fight the fat at sea.

Taking a cruise ship vacation no longer means coming home with extra fat around your waist. I have a client (we'll call her Tara) that lost about 30 pounds over 6 months. She was planning a seven day cruise with her family and was terrified of putting on "a pound of day" like her travel agent suggested she might.

If you've ever been on a cruise, you know it's easy to do. You don't have to lift a finger and food is available whenever you want it. What Tara needed was a fat fighting strategy.

The first step was choosing the right cabin. Tara gets seasick easily, so she opted for one of the cabins in the middle of the ship. Inside rooms have the least amount of movement. The only ones left were on the lower levels, so that's what she booked. Turns out it was a great choice. Since almost everything takes place on the upper decks, Tara was constantly walking up and down stairs to go anywhere. By avoiding the elevators and having the "basement" room she saved money on her ticket and burned hundreds of calories walking to and from her cabin.

Tara's mother was another story. She wanted a balcony and a suite. After looking at the ships layout, we discovered aft balconied staterooms. Those are the ones at the back of the ship. Because of their location, the balconies are almost 50% larger than ones on the side. More importantly, being at the back of the ship they're far away from many of the activities. Anytime her mom wanted to do something, she had to spend some time walking to get there.

Setting up workouts was easy. All the major cruise lines have gyms on their ships and many even give you rewards like hats and t-shirts just for showing up. There are also jogging tracks and pools for swimming. Tara stopped by the gym right after she boarded and signed up for one class each day. That way she was committed to going.

The next thing to tackle was the on-shore activities. They had 4 ports of call and dozens of options at each one. Tara chose excursions that involved her twin passions, learning about local culture and staying fit. Instead of the typical bus trip she arranged a walking tour of one city and a bike tour of another. Everyone got some exercise and they saw the cities up close and personal.

Dealing with the endless rows of food was a challenge, so I gave Tara three iron clad rules.

  1. Tara couldn't put anything on her plate larger than a golf ball. If it was bigger, she either asked for it to be cut down or she would cut it and share the rest with someone in her family. That meant she split those pre-cut slices of cake, rolls and fattening sides.

  2. Nothing on her plate could touch. Because there was a limited amount of space to use, Tara had to choose her foods carefully.

  3. If she wanted another helping, she had to wait 10 minutes from the time she finished before she could get more. That gave her stomach time to tell her brain, "we've got enough food down here, you're full now!"

One of the toughest challenges was alcohol. Tara loves fruity cocktails, but her particular passion (Mai Tai's) has almost 500 calories per serving. The solution was to go to her bank before the cruise and get six silver dollars. Each morning of the cruise she would put one of the silver dollars in her pocket. That was the tip she could use when she ordered a drink. Since she only had six coins, she had to limit herself to six fattening alcohol drinks over the course of her trip.

In the end, Tara ended up losing a pound on her cruise and had a great time while doing it. If you're planning a cruise, these ideas can work for you too!

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.

1/11/2009