Friday, December 3

Assessing the Post-cruise Damage

Reluctantly, hesitantly, I stepped on the scale this morning, bracing myself for the damage I’d caused during last week’s cruise.

And the damage was…drum roll please…

zero pounds.

Miraculously, unbelievably, the digital display read the same as when I left. I shook my head, blinked several times and glanced at my hands. I must be leaning against the wall or hanging from a bar above the scale, I thought. There’s no way that’s accurate.

But there it was, in black and grey, in digital glory.

After I stopped jumping up and down and high-fiving myself, I wondered how in the world I pulled that off.

I ate dessert every night, drank wine, and had a Bloody Mary for a nightcap. Every night. I don’t normally eat and drink like that. How could I not put on a few pounds?

After some careful introspection it occurs to me that I have a few personal characteristics that support a healthy weight management style, even when I’m sabotaging myself.

1) I’m a food snob.

I’m a picky eater. Not like my seven-year-old who only likes a limited number of foods, but in the quality of what I eat. If it’s not really good, I don’t eat it.

This is the shrimp risotto.
Looks fabulous, right?
Sadly, it was horrible.
For example, at dinner one night on the cruise I ordered shrimp risotto. It looked beautiful but the shrimp was overcooked and rubbery and the rice was undercooked and crunchy. I took two bites and pushed it aside. It just wasn’t worth my time. I didn’t ask for another plate, I waited for the next course which happened to be dessert and it was spectacular. Well worth skipping the entree for.

The same thing happened at breakfast. I never loaded up on pastries, doughnuts, pancakes or other sugary treats. It was clear these items were from a box. They weren’t homemade. They weren’t special, so why bother. I stuck with the basics—fruit, eggs, oatmeal, bacon, toast—choosing instead to save my calories for dinner when the good desserts were being served.

2) I don’t stuff myself.

When I was in high school we owned a basset hound named George. We adored that dog and like bad parents fed him all sorts of inappropriate food. One night we gave him an entire pot of spaghetti. He ate the whole thing. For the next several hours he lay on the family room floor moaning, his belly distended beyond his ribcage on both sides of his body. He looked like a python that had just engulfed a deer. Poor thing. He just couldn’t stop himself.

Thankfully, I am no George.

Even though I was eating more high-calorie foods, I often ate only half of the contents on my plate, stopping well before I reached the George-point.

It reminds me of an article I read recently about the people of Okinawa, Japan. One of the places profiled in Dan Beuttner’s book, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest. Okinawa is known for it’s high concentration of 100-year-olds. These people have been studied for years to discover their secrets to longevity. One of their cultural norms is to eat until they are 80% full. They purposefully and methodically stop eating when they feel mostly full. Since it takes 10-20 minutes for the brain to get the message that you’re satiated, if you stop at 80% and wait, you’ll find that you’re actually full. Whereas if you stop at 100%, you’re stuffed, like George.

3) I’m impatient.

With 3,000+ people on board the ship there was always a line for the elevators. Instead of patiently waiting, I took the stairs. Even in high heels. Up and down I went, day and night. Additionally, we walked everywhere—taking the kids to their Adventure Ocean Club, meeting the family at the Schooner Bar for trivia night, going back to the other side of the ship to get the kids and put them to bed, etc. If I was smarter I would’ve brought a pedometer with me. I know I walked more on ship than I do at home.

All these things combined must have cancelled out the extra calories I was consuming. It reminds me that small changes can make big differences.

During this time of year, between work and family commitments, travel, holiday shopping and office parties, it’s difficult to get to the gym or pass on all the treats. But some simple solutions like being picky, eating less and walking more could be all you need to maintain your weight this season.

It worked for me. 

1 comment:

  1. Well done - great characteristics to have. I am not that fortunate. Here are my traits:

    1) I'm not a food snob - I eat what is in front of me and whatever my kids don't finish

    2) I eat until I'm 120% full - then lounge on the couch with my pants undone - the mild pain and George-like groaning giving me a sense of satisfaction - like I accomplished something

    3) I have the patience of Job - I wait for the elevator - after all, I pushed the button; it would be mean to have it stop at the floor and not get on

    Guess I should stay away from cruise ships...