There is an old joke that comedians aboard ships have been using for decades; they tell of a guest who came on-board as a passenger but left as cargo. While cruise lines are making healthier choices available in their menus, it is still very easy to take in too many calories. It’s not uncommon to hear someone say they gained two pounds a day while on a cruise. Here are two basic facts you need to know about controlling your weight.
Fact 1: Weight control comes down to a simple statement: calories in vs calories burned. If the calories you burn each day equals the calories you take in, your weight does not change. Burn more calories than taking in and your weight goes down. Take in more calories than you burn and your weight goes up. For your daily calories needs, you start with your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). This is the number of calories you’d burn if you stayed in bed all day. There are a number of website that have calculators that will give you an estimate of your BMR based on your weight, height, gender, and age. Using a 6 foot, 200 pounds, 30 year old male as an example, his BMR would be 2,000 calories. His number is multiplied by an activity factor that ranges from 1.2 for a sedate individual to 1.9 for someone very active. If our example is sedatary, the daily average he needs is 2,400 calories to maintain his weight.
Fact 2: An excess of 3,000 calories will be stored as a pound of fat. You can balance extra calories taken in with extra calories burnt by exercise and active activities. It wont be easy but it does help.
Weight Control Tip #1: This is so frequently mentioned but it does deserve repeating. Watch what you eat and drink and control the portion sizes. It’s okay to try different dishes but just cut the portions down so the total calories taken in is reasonable for the meal. Also, plan out when you will eat and keep to that schedule. With so many “free” food outlets on a ship it is easy to have a plate of food next to you from the time you wake till you go to bed. Avoid that and eat only at meal times and one selected snack.
Weight Control Tip #2: Limit your alcohol consumption. A Rum Punch served in one of those souvenir glasses they want you to buy, costs you about 750 calories. So roughly speaking, four of them adds a pound of fat. An hour on the exercise bike at a moderate pace will burn off the calories of just one of drink.
Weight Control Tip #3: Drink slightly cold water frequently. Keeping hydrated is very important, not only does it help protect you from heat injuries, it keeps your body working at its best metabolic rate. Drink cold water because when the water is cold, your body burns calories to bring it up to body temperature so it can be absorbed.
Weight Control Tip #4: Add physical activity to your day. Spending some time in the fitness center each day will certainly help. Even if you are not a gym rat, it is hard not to enjoy an hour on an exercise bike when the view in front of you is the ocean. If you are relaxing by the pool, every 45 minutes get up, stretch your legs, and take a ten to fifteen minute walk. Most ships have a walking/running track. Exercise fast enough to get your heart rate up. Research has shown that four 15 minute walks burns slightly more calories than a one hour continuous walk. When you exercise you burn additional calories, plus the additional calorie burn does not stop immediately. Your body will continue to burn calories at a higher rate for a while after you stop. Drag your significant other to a dance class. It does not matter if you do not known how to dance, that’s what the classes are for. Get out there, learn something, have some fun, and enjoy yourself. Nobody knows you there anyway so don’t worry bout making a fool out of yourself. Look at the daily schedule and see what activities you may enjoy that will also add to the calories burned.
Weight control Tip #5: The 6 o’clock elevator rule. Place the elevators off limits until 6 o’clock each day. Use the stairs and add a flight. If your stateroom is down on deck 5, then walk down to deck 4 and come back up a deck. Going up to deck 10, walk up to deck 11 first.
With a balanced approach and a little food discipline you can maintain your passenger status and still fit your clothes at the end of the cruise.