Dieting while on a cruise ship?

Olivia C. Rossi, RN, MSN, ACSM

Your Personal Trainer

What goes down must come up. So begins the saga of my friend’s seven day Alaska cruise. Upon her return to work, she told me that it had been her goal before leaving not to gain any weight, nor to deprive herself of dessert, a lofty pursuit considering the buffet was open from 6 am to 12 midnight everyday and wasn’t the only available place to eat on board. She literally had sea and food all around her–perhaps the ultimate “sea-food” diet! Amidst all of that floating temptation–she did it!

She had a goal and she took steps to reach it. More specifically, she took the stairs to reach it–four flights down to the dinner buffet and four flights back up. It was another two flights up to walk off the ship in port and three flights to go shopping on board. She kept a fruit bowl in her cabin for snacking and avoided the “see-food” buffet line at breakfast by having her husband bring breakfast to their cabin. One thing that wasn’t available to her was her daily Starbuck’s Chai Tea non-fat latte. That was two-hundred calories that she wasn’t having that left her room for dessert!

When your goal is to maintain your weight during a time when you know you will be challenged, it’s time for a little economic theory, supply and demand. When it comes to food, if your supply goes up, your demand had better follow or the scales will tip in the wrong direction! This is the time to increase your activity level. Walk more, and as my friend did, take the stairs. “Climbing stairs burns almost ten times more calories, minute by minute, than riding up in the elevator.”(1) Let’s face it, you’re just standing there looking up at the numbers and waiting for the door to open. By climbing stairs, you burn two-to-three times as many calories as walking the same amount of time, “. . . because with each step you lift your body weight (plus what you are carrying).”(2) So, buy more–it will be heavier, you’ll burn more calories, and it’s good for the economy! It’s also a great way to tone your muscles.

Whether you’re at work, at the mall or at the airport, look for the stairs and park two levels up or down. When you’re on vacation or at a conference, staying at a hotel, ask for a room on the fourth or fifth floor and take the stairs. Make stair climbing part of your day, wherever you are, and savor those special desserts like my friend did on her cruise. Remember, what goes down four flights must come back up, and it may help to keep your weight from climbing while you’re at it.

( 1,2 . . . Active Living Every Day. Andrea L. Dunn, Ph.D )

Yours in fitness,

Olivia Rossi, RN, MSN,
Certified Clinical Exercise Specialist, ACSM
Certified Personal Trainer, ACSM

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