As a destination port storyteller on cruise ships, I often spend more days on board a ship than on land. Of all the wonderful attributes of cruise travel, cruise guests most often comment on the food: that is, the quality and the quantity of the food. Always mindful of the sage words of a wise cruise director, if you board and eat like the guests, you will leave as cargo, I recently decided to declare war on my thighs and become serious about controlling my weight.
I was referred by one of my children to the Ideal Protein Diet. IP is a four-phase program, in which phase 1 and 2 rely on packaged foods to augment fresh veggies and protein. My phase 1 plan was a 1,000-calorie a day diet, with IP food at breakfast, lunch, and snack, with 2 cups of veggies added at lunch. Dinner consisted of a lean protein and 2 cups of veggies. Phase 2 allows on-your-own protein and veggies at lunch and dinner, with IP food at breakfast and snack. The IP aim is to reduce intake of carbs and fat, while maintaining protein intake, to result in a leaner body mass. IP dieters count carbs not calories. Success requires no diet deviation.
In February and March, while I maintained my sedentary life-style of researching and writing Cruise through History stories, I lost almost 20 pounds of fat in phase 1 of the IP diet. Although only halfway to my ideal weight goal, it was time to board ship. The challenge would be to maintain the ambitious diet while at sea.
My IP counselor, Lara, at the IP office in Asheville, was encouraging. She had clients who took IP foods on a cruise for ten days to two weeks, opting to not give up either a cruise or their diet. My contract was for three cruise segments in a row, encompassing five weeks at sea. This would be my ultimate IP at sea challenge.
I packed a second suitcase with all my favorite IP foods, tucked among CTH t-shirts for CTH trivia winners, and my cruise reading to research new stories. I chose food that was powdered, to mix with hot water, which did not require a microwave or fry pan. Included were IP oatmeal, cappuccino and orange drinks, tomato and leek soups, cherry gelatin, vanilla-crispy bars and trail mix.
In five weeks on the Celebrity Silhouette, I found the fresh food options to be terrific. In the buffet, beyond the sumptuous salads, sushi, and tempting deserts, there was a salad bar with everything an IP dieter could desire. Some vegetables, which are carb heavy, such as garbanzo beans and corn, are not on the IP list. The offerings on Silhouette included scallions, radishes, green peppers, green beans, celery, mushrooms, and several types of leafy greens. It was an IP garden of choice.
On the Silhouette dinner menu every night in the café and dining room are broiled salmon, chicken, and beef options, along with steamed green veggies. I could be a discrete dieter as I joined guests in the main dining room. Although the dining staff serves a thousand guests each evening, they effortlessly deliver menu deviations.
The result of my five weeks at sea was a loss of 10 pounds. My ambitious walking treks through Amsterdam, Oslo, Copenhagen, Tallinn and Stockholm, with my new camera, resulted in a gain of muscle despite the weight loss. The empty extra suitcase was donated to the cabin crew and the books went to the ship library.
Now back on land for less than two weeks before the next month on-ship, I am still on phase 1 of the program. The plan is to reach my weight goal and transition to a phase 3, non-IP foods menu, by August, when I begin almost four months at sea.
The message for dieters and cruise vacationers is that it is easy to cruise through the Ideal Protein diet. Lose weight while enjoying fascinating new dinner companions on ship and exploring foreign ports. Donate clothes that are too large and make more room in your suitcase for souvenirs.
For more on the Ideal Protein Diet see: www.idealprotein.com. Find itineraries on the Celebrity Silhouette at www.celebritycruises.com and the Cruise through History storybooks on amazon.com/cruisethroughhistory.