Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I'm back and getting fit

Last week my wife and I spent a wonderful 7 nights cruising from Long Beach down to the Mexican Riviera on the Carnival Miracle.  We stopped at the three ports of Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. We loved it!  I highly recommend it!

That's not to say there aren't some things to watch out for on a cruise, when one is trying to get their body into a healthier shape.  The two biggest threats to progress in this direction are food and drink.

OK, I know that these are daily obstacles and challenges one must contend with when on a journey to a healthier lifestyle, but let's just say they are magnified in the microcosm that is a cruise. Take Food, for example.

When you are home you can exert a pretty high degree of control over the food that you eat, primarily by limiting availability within your household pantry, or mostly by cost when you go out to eat. Not to mention that if you eat at home, there likely isn't a huge variety nor quantity. Not true on a cruise.  Let's look at all of the food options while on a ship:

First and foremost there is the dining room. Its pretty straight forward with set times and menus to choose from.  You have either Breakfast or Brunch, and then dinner. Where at home most people don't usually have multiple courses, every meal in the dining room consists of Starters, Main Entrees and Dessert.  Add to that the fact that you can choose multiple items from each category if you so desire and you can see how this is a very dangerous place.

Just to illustrate my point, I'd like to share what I had on our first Formal Night of the cruise.  For starters I had the Beefsteak Tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella and then the wild mushroom soup.  My entree was the Prime rib of beef with baked potato and broccoli. Then there was dessert - Cherries Jubilee and date and fig cake.  What is important to understand is this was just a typical meal.

 Then there is the buffet which is open most of the day and evening.  There were stations with rotating cuisine like Chinese, Italian and Caribbean.  Then there were what I think of as the staples: hamburger, hot dogs, chicken finger and fries.  Let's not forget the deli with made to order sandwiches, either. Most of these were open from the morning until 9:00 at night.

Add to all that the 24/7 options of soft serve ice cream cones, pizza and room service where there is a wide selection of starters, entrees, sandwiches and breakfast.

As you can see, if you are hungry on a cruise its your own fault.

Then there are the drinks.  Everywhere you go on the ship there are bar waiters offering various mixed drinks or bear and wine.  Sure you have to pay for them, but they are such and integrated part of the cruise. On sea days, when we headed to the show room early, we would often get a double Bloody Mary. at meals we drank water or iced tea, but then in the evening it was usually couple of beers or mixed drinks.  Nothing excessive or out of the ordinary for a cruise, but it all definitely adds up.

All that being said the common belief is that people gain as much as 10 lbs. during a one week cruise.  That is a lit for such a short period of time, I know, but with all of the food and drinks that are consumed, not entirely out of the realm of possibility.

One way to combat that is to have a plan - decide ahead of time what you are going to eat and stick to the plan.  Every day you can go on your stateroom TV, or head by the dining room and see what the menu will be for dinner that evening.  Stick to the healthier choices, or if you must try all of the great food, split the meal with someone or limit yourself to just half of the dish.

Another way is to utilize the exercise room on board or just get out and walk!  The ship we were on is 959 feet long and 105 feet wide.  It has 12 decks and lots of stairs.  Just walking from end to end along one of the interior corridor would be about 900 feet.  With 5280 feet in a mile, if you walk it 6 times you've walked a mile.  If that isn't what you want to do, walk the stairs up and down from the lido deck (deck 9) to the restaurant/showroom on deck 2. Beyond that there is also a track you can walk or run up on deck 11.  All of this is available even on sea days while you are moving from port to port.

Then there are the ports themselves - great opportunities to get out and explore another country or world and many of them involve physical activity.  There is everything from snorkeling to horseback riding to a canopy adventure with a ropes course to just walking and sightseeing. Of course there are also the excursions where you ride a bus and drink tequila (mas tequila) which I have to say has been one of my favorites.

What I'm trying to say here is while a cruise for many (including me this time) can mean a bit of excess eating and drinking and lack of activity, it doesn't have to.  There are opportunities galore to enjoy yourself and also burn off many of those possibly excessive calories.


So, the cruise is behind us and all that's left are the memories and the few extra pounds.  Its now time to get my butt back to the task of getting myself in a better, healthier shape.  To that end I have been thinking about what I want to do this year and have come up with several goals to move me in the direction I want to go.

First and foremost I need to lose weight. that is a given because the extra weight is really starting to take its toll on me and I'm tired of it.  To this end I've adjusted my diet to a low-carb diet which I know will allow me to quickly get started on losing pounds.  My goal is to be at 360 lbs. on January 1, 2016.  I finally got the scale working this morning and it showed 463 lbs.  so, 103 lbs. to lose.

Second, I need to get more active. Obviously the more active I am, the more weight I can lose.  To this end I have established 4 goals. Two of the goals are for distance, two for frequency, Two for cycling, two for walking/running.

I plan on cycling at least 1500 miles this year in at least 300 rides with several key milestone rides mixed in: a 25 mile ride, a 50 kilometer ride, a 50 mile ride, a metric century and a century.

I plan on walking/running at least 300 miles this year in at least 180 walks/runs. I also have specific distances here: 5K, 10K and Half Marathon this year.

To keep track of all these goals and my progress towards them, I will be putting together a chart listing the goals and weekly progress and posting it in the right margin of this page.  I know I can do this.  I know I need to do this.  I will do this.

What are you doing to get healthy in 2015?

As always, Get on your bikes and ride!!!!!