Mention that you lose weight on cruises and the listener will assume that you are prone to being seasick. Not so. It is possible to lose two to five pounds a week on a cruise and still enjoy all the fun, including meals.
Since my terrestrial life involves research and writing, both sedentary pursuits, I look forward to trimming down on my cruise travels. Losing weight on a cruise is not a matter of diet and depravation. It is a matter of adhering to a few rules of the ships.
1. Use the Gym
All the cruise ships have lovely gyms. Use yours daily. Your routine need not be ultra-strenuous. It is better to do something for thirty minutes to stimulate your metabolism than to write it off as taking too much effort. No one you know will see you in your spandex. If they do, they will be proud of you. You will be proud of you.
A simple routine would be thirty minutes on the treadmill, elliptical, or bicycle, the metabolism threesome, followed by some weights or resistance machines. Using weights or machines is not something to overdo, or engage in without guidance. If the gym is new terrain, stick to the threesome, or book time with the ship’s trainer.
Most trainers will work your lower or upper body in a session, but not both. When working on your own you should stick to this plan too. Remember to start your morning with a stretch. Then move to your favorite of the threesome.
For weight loss, it is not necessary to use weights or muscle resistance machines. It would be better to precede or follow your time in the gym with a walk around the deck. Taking a yoga class would be a plus. Engage in Zumba if you dare. The point of using the gym is to go daily and wake your metabolism, not drain yourself to the point that you need a nap.
2. Take the Stairs
Early in my travels I met a retired gym teacher who only took the stairs, never an elevator. Into her eighties she was active, and most important, still travelling. If you just assume the elevators are full or non-existent, you will be surprised how many pounds you can drop as you traverse the ocean taking the stairs.
You need not run up and down the full ship in each stair climbing effort to notice weight loss. Let it happen without thinking. It is certain that no matter on what level you have booked your stateroom, your meals and entertainment will be on different levels. Taking a flight or two at a time will not leave you winded, but at the end of a week or more of your cruise it will add up to either losing weight, or certainly not gaining weight as you enjoy your cruise ship dining.
3. Bread is Your Enemy and Sugar is Worse
Weight loss on a cruise is not a matter of dieting. Dieting sounds like work. Cruises are fun. Instead just skip bread and desert. These two items are the biggest source of weight gain. When I meet repeat cruise ship travelers who have slimmed down, they report skipping bread and desert. Most important, they look happy, never deprived.
One exception to the no bread rule is for those dining in the Italian specialty restaurants on Royal Caribbean. The bread served with dinner is so near perfect, warm and crusty, served with baked, pealed garlic, bathed in olive oil, that it would be a sin to pass.
4. The Chef d’ Cuisine is Your Friend
Did you ever notice that the portions at dinner on a cruise ship are small? This is not a cost-cutting conspiracy by the cruise company, or a throwback to the days of novella cuisine when small plates were the fashion. Rather, your chef knows that cruise diners like to try several new dishes. The experienced chef also knows that cruise diners tend to over-order. Serving small portions is your chef’s way of letting you know that he or she is your friend. If you over-order and the portions are large you may be tempted to eat everything on your plate. Later you will be unhappy.
If you order only an appetizer, a soup or salad, and an entré, you will have a full meal and no regrets. Small plates are not depravations. You will not leave the table hungry. If after your next shipboard activity you are hungry again, it is likely that it will be mealtime once again. At anytime, somewhere on the ship, it is mealtime.
Some of the cruise lines anticipate your desire to lose calories without thinking too hard. Oceania offers Canyon Ranch Spa menus with dinner. Celebrity offers a spa-dining venue at breakfast and lunch that is so delightful you may opt for it without noticing that bread is not available.
A slimming-down scheme a friend uses to keep in check at buffets is to use only a salad plate and fill it only once. If you keep in mind that food on a cruise ship is also part of the décor and that it is not necessary to eat all to enjoy all, the one-plate rule will be easy to follow.
5. More Conversation, Less Food
A benefit of cruise travel is the ability to easily and repeatedly drift into conversation with fascinating people. Quite often conversation is prior to meals when people congregate, and during meals. Conversation is a wonderful distraction to eating. Talk more; eat less. Let that be your guiding standard.
Some ships offer High Tea with scrumptious deserts. They also serve tea. Assume the deserts are decoration. Order tea.
6. Keep Moving
The new studies on health and exercise report that sitting for long periods of time is bad for you. If you go to the gym and enjoy a rigorous workout, and then sit for long periods, the sitting will counteract your efforts at the gym. Periodic movement is advised. In other words, keep moving.
Frequent moving about should be easy on a ship. After the gym, take the stairs to the pool. Follow sunbathing with a walk around the deck or through the shopping arcade. Take the opportunities for active shore excursions. Shore excursions are absentminded ways of walking for miles, shop-to-shop and historic site-to-historic site.
7. Drink Water
Every treatise on health and exercise advises to drink 8-10 glasses of water every day. That would be a good start on your cruise. Drink plenty of water before, during, and after your gym session. Drink water at every meal. Drink plenty of water on shore excursions, particularly if you call at Caribbean ports where temperatures are high.
8. Cruise Often (at least annually)
Since cruise vacations are so good for your health, a cruise or two should be in your annual calendar, even if weight loss is not an issue for you. Since the gym is only a stair level or two away, parking is not an issue. Healthy food is handed to you without going shopping. Dirty dishes disappear magically and fresh spa towels await you every morning.
These eight rules are fun even if coincidently they leave you lovely and feeling good. Think of a cruise vacation as a spa with shore excursions and a theater.