Since summer is unofficially over, I thought this was appropriate timing for this post. Did you return from your vacation with a refreshed feeling, great memories, cool pictures and souvenirs? Wonderful! Did you also come back with extra weight that you now have to work twice as hard to lose, weird feeling skin and a bloated body?
I recently went on a 7 day cruise. Some (who think that my plant-based diet of choice is depriving), advised me to let loose, indulge and really enjoy myself. My idea of fun does not include stuffing myself with unhealthy foods, feeling crappy and gaining weight in one week that it will take me three weeks to lose. Because I was curious, I weighed myself before leaving and when I returned. To my surprise, I weighed the same. I began to think, how did I manage to maintain my weight? Studies show that the average person gains 8 pounds on a seven-day cruise! I normally teach five spin classes per week and practice Bikram yoga 6-7 days per week. Clearly I was not able to follow this routine on the cruise ship. Here are the pointers I came up with.
- Eat three meals. Just because there is food available around the clock doesn’t mean you have to eat around the clock. NO SNACKING! Enjoy the buffets and eat until you’re full. Don’t eat again until the next meal. This will not only reduce how many unnecessary calories you consume, it will also allow your digestion to work uninterrupted. I had two bananas, a large plate of fruit and two bowls of dairy-free oatmeal for breakfast everyday. Lunch was fruits, a huge salad, cooked veggies (if available), rice or bread and a little dessert if they looked good. I even had a few fries sometimes. I ate a light dinner of salad, cooked veggies and soup mainly because dinner was served and there were very few vegan options.
- Decide what your indulgences will be. When at a resort, all-inclusive hotel or on a cruise, elaborate buffets with everything are the norm. It’s tempting to want to sample it all. Desserts and other rich or calorie dense foods are what pack on the pounds. Savor these in small amounts and eat only the ones that are really tasty and that satisfy your cravings. In my experience, mass-produced desserts are not the best quality. I find them to be dry and lacking a robust flavor. This may be because they reuse deserts by freezing them and putting them back out. If I’m going to indulge in something I know is full of fat and sugar, it will be a small amount and it better taste really good or I’m not having any more. You must let go of the mind-set that you need to get your money’s worth. Is it really worth it?
- Keep yourself busy. Find fun activities offered on your trip or go on the excursions offered by the cruise line. This will get your mind off eating, allow you to gain pleasure from something other than food and may burn some calories if you are walking a lot.
- Exercise. Getting your sweat on, even a little helps your body detox, helps your elimination, burns calories and occupies some time that you may spend revisiting the buffet in between meals. On a 7 day cruise, I did formal exercise four times. It consisted of running the deck steps (10 flights) for 15 minutes or doing 20 minutes on the elliptical. (That’s all I can take on the boring elliptical) push ups, abs and practicing a condensed version of the Bikram yoga series.
- My bonus tip! I packed my magnesium oxygen supplement. MagO2 (not to be confused with magnesium oxide) is a gentle digestive system cleanser that cleanses the colon by loosening up toxins and undigested foods. I typically take it on an empty stomach for one week every couple of months. I feel it takes care of any ‘bad’ foods I may have had and also some environmental toxins we absorb. Let’s face it, our bodies get polluted in many ways and when eating out, you know you are not getting organic foods. It’s common to not be ‘regular’ when your daily routine, diet and maybe even time zone changes while you are on a trip. This supplement will help maintain some normalcy in your bowels, keep things moving and help you to not gain weight.
I was not perfect on my trip. I know some on the cooked foods I ate were prepared with more oil than I would have liked. When i did my first Bikram class after getting home, my normally water-like sweat was heavy and greasy. The gluten (it was hard to avoid) made my skin dry and flaky too. Thankfully that cleared up in one week. I want you to return from your vacation with a refreshed feeling, great memories, cool pictures and souvenirs; not extra weight, a bloated feeling and greasy skin.