Until recently, I would never have placed the word “cruise” in the same category with the word “fit.” At first glance, the two words appear to represent opposite types of lifestyles. For many, the word “cruise” conjures up the stereotypical image of non-stop eating, overindulgence, and pampering.
It is easy to recreate the picture of an oversized person heaping large portions of food onto their cafeteria tray or ordering 3 desserts after eating two entrees. When these individuals disembark, they struggle to zip their pants. A few mutter, “How could this happen?” Somehow they have managed to accelerate the college freshman10 syndrome after only a week or two at sea.
Last month, I did witness this gluttonous behavior, but I also observed people who embraced a healthier lifestyle. These individuals were able to overcome the temptation to overindulge in excessive behavior. A motivated mindset that endorsed moderation was their mantra. They did not equate having a great time with overeating and being a couch potato. I assume that they had adhered to a positive approach to life long before they boarded the ship.
To promote a healthy cruise experience, I suggest the following 6 tips:
1. Be an Informed Traveler. Before you book your cruise, research the heath, fitness, and dining amenities that are included on each potential ship option. Some luxury liners are now equipped with state-of-the-art facilities that include fully equipped fitness rooms, exercise classes, rock climbing walls, ice skating rinks, and an assortment of other amenities. Larger ships will obviously include more choices. Cruise ships offer a number of different dining experiences as well. Compare and contrast the features that are appealing.
2. Limit High Caloric Beverages. Alcoholic drinks, carbonated beverages, and fruit juices are loaded with calories. If you are accustomed to drinking only 1 or 2 a day, consuming 2 to 3 times as many calorie-laden drinks will escalate your caloric count. Many cruise lines offer beverage packages that encourage excessive consumption of these drinks. Avoid these up sells and be content with water, tea and/or coffee. You will have more money to spend on souvenirs and gain less pounds.
3. Map Out Your Eating Strategy. Eating options will be unlimited aboard the ship. Unless your metabolism is in overdrive, it will be necessary to balance your consumption of food if you don’t want to tip the scale at the end of your journey. For example, eating a thousand calories for breakfast followed by more than a thousand calories for lunch will wreck havoc with your desire to indulge in a four-course dinner. Portion control is essential. It’s tempting to ask for more than one entrée or multiple desserts. If you want to explore different foods, consider sharing an entrée or dessert with one of your fellow travelers.
4. Search for an Alternative Dining Experience. Some cruise lines are catering to a more health conscious audience. For example, Celebrity Cruises offers an AquaClass category that provides health and fitness amenities. Passengers in this category have exclusive access to Blu, a specialty restaurant featuring “clean cuisine” and are provided perks in the spa and fitness center. All passengers can experience alternative breakfast and lunch items at the Aqua Spa Café. Celebrity’s innovative chefs have created a health conscious menu that features an eclectic blend of flavorful offerings with a fraction of the calories found elsewhere on the ship.
Recently, Celebrity initiated an innovative dining program aboard the Reflection that will eventually be offered on the entire fleet. SPE (Sanitas Per Escam, or “Health Through Food) certified options are available at every meal in the main dining room. Foods prepared according to this certification promote the consumption of fruits and vegetables, adherence to a diet rich in high quality fats and reduced saturated fat, an overall reduction in solid fats, added sugar, salt and refined grains, and a limited amount of processed foods.
5. Take the Stairs. Large cruise ships have a dozen or more floors. People who do not have an underlying medical condition should avoid the elevator and walk up and down the stairs. Few calories are burned when someone presses the elevator button. If walking up too many flights of stairs is onerous, consider at least walking down in place of riding the elevator.
6. Remain Active. Being on vacation should not be an excuse for finding ways to become sedentary. Check out the daily bulletin. Most ships will offer a wide array of classes that will oftentimes include dance instruction, Zumba, aerobics, general exercise, yoga, etc. Many ships have expanded their fitness centers to include updated treadmills, stationary bicycles, elliptical trainers, free weights, weight machines, TRX stations, etc. Swimming pools tend to be small and not conducive to swimming laps. However, treading water for 15 minutes can be a healthy alternative to sitting on a lounge chair. Shore excursion opportunities are endless. Select ones that offer more time off a vehicle exploring sites than vegetating in a seat. Visiting the port by foot is an excellent way to couple a fit lifestyle with adventure.
Following these six tips can ensure a fit lifestyle while cruising. A vacation should not be used as an excuse to deviate from a healthy lifestyle. Adhering to a mindset that values motivation and moderation will help keep cruisers on track. It may be challenging to follow these 6 tips without an underlying healthy game plan. It is never too late to start a new regiment. However, one needs to be motivated first before endorsing a reasonable plan. Choosing to run up and down a dozen flights of stairs in an hour will be counterproductive for someone who rarely exercises. Exercising in moderation is comparable to eating in moderation. The balance between the two is the key to a healthy lifestyle at sea or on land.
Remember, if you leave a comment on How Do I Become Motivated to Live a Healthy Life or ask a question by midnight MST on June 5, you’ll be eligible for a book give away.
My memoir was a finalist in the Travel category for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, the 2013 International Book Awards, and the 2013 National Indie Book Excellence Awards.