How to get back on track after a cruise

Ignore the crazy hair! It was windy on top of the ship when we left Vancouver, B.C.

Ignore the crazy hair! It was windy on top of the ship when we left Vancouver, B.C.

The last two Sundays were travel days, hence no posts. But I am happy to report that I am back on solid ground! The cruise was wonderful. I did have a couple of anxiety filled nights when the seas were rough and our cabin creaked a lot, it just didn’t feel good to me to be in the middle of an ocean while that was going on. I don’t get seasick but I still didn’t like that. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed this vacation, it was awesome to unplug for a week and the scenery was stunning, we saw a few amazing glaciers, one by boat, others by air from a seaplane, and I loved sharing these adventures with my husband and good friends.

Everything they say about the food on a cruise is true.

It’s everywhere and it’s hard not to indulge. I decided early on to only eat foods I truly enjoyed and to stop eating when I’m satisfied. That worked for the most part but towards the end I did have a few days where I stuffed myself with carbs and sugar, and boy, I felt rough. My body did not like that one bit. I know exactly what was going on here: this was the good old ‘last supper’ mentality raising its familiar head. ‘Last suppering’ is the main reason why I gained so much weight over the years. I have not actually been on that many diets but I always thought that I ought to be on a diet. So I always ate like there was no tomorrow because, you know, I have to start a diet soon. Only I rarely did start a serious diet. I just ‘last suppered’ a lot. And that’s exactly what happened on those couple of days, I figured I was off my program and had to start it again after the vacation. So I’d better eat a few more pastries, cakes, bread and pasta while I could. Total carb coma.

However. I tracked everything I ate.

I entered all my food and drinks into my LoseIt app, every single day. It was very imperfect, and there was a lot of guessing. But that was ok. I did this for two reasons:

  1. I did not want to break my tracking streak. Tracking is such an important part of my program, I knew that it would be much harder for me to get back to it if I stopped.

  2. I wanted to learn to be ok with going over my limit. I know myself, I need some flexibility in my plan, trying to strictly stick within a calorie budget every single day does not work for me. I needed to be ok with temporarily increasing my calories so to be able to get back on my plan once I return to my routine.

So what helped me get back on track?

1. Keep tracking your food throughout the cruise.

See above. While I allowed myself more food I did not want to break the habit of accounting for everything. Apart from the psychological benefit of consistency it was also interesting to see how easy it is to rack up your calories! I think on my highest day I had just over 4,000 cals, oh my. By not breaking my tracking streak it was easy to continue once I got home. All I have to do now is change what I eat and how much.

2. Feel the resistance and do it anyway.

I won’t lie. Re-entry was not easy. A part of me did not want to start weighing food again, for instance, and I didn’t feel like doing a big food shop, either. On Monday, the day after we got back, I was tired and had a huge headache, both familiar triggers for overeating. But I decided to kinda ignore it all and get back to what I was doing before. Which brings me to the next point…

3. Trust what you know.

It definitely helped that I was already two months into my program, I knew what foods I needed to get my head back into this. Even though there wasn’t a lot of fresh food in the house there was enough for the first day: Wasa crisp bread, eggs, chicken soup from the freezer, cream of wheat. I didn’t feel like going for a big shop yet so I just got a few basic diet staples: blueberries, figs, pears, Dave’s killer bread, spinach, lettuce, celery, red peppers. Plus plenty of fish and meat in the freezer. Enough to tie me over for a few more days. It worked.

4. Go gently.

Because my head was slow to adapt to being back I decided to still be a bit lenient on my calorie budget. Nothing crazy but 200-400 cals over my daily limit were ok. I also applied this attitude of going gently to my return to work. I have a very busy fall quarter ahead of me and could already feel the stress levels rise, which is another popular binge trigger. So I decided to ease myself back into my business as best as I could, reminding myself that I am my own boss and that I make the rules around here! The same goes for exercising, I started with easy walks around the neighborhood and if I only do one walk a day, even just a small one, that is ok. Go gently was exacly what I needed this week.

5. Listen to your body.

I noticed that I felt quite hungry for the first couple of days after our return and when I looked at my food I realized that there wasn’t a lot of fat or protein, I was still quite carby. No doubt because my husband immediately had to go on a business trip so he wasn’t cooking any of his Keto meals! Once I realized this I added salmon, sausages, cheese, more eggs and grean leafy veg to my meals and it really helped, the hunger subsided and I felt more satisfied. Mind you, peanut butter cups are still featured as well, after not wanting any for a few days (I was still recovering from sugar overload) I had a strong craving for them today and so I got some at the store and really enjoyed them.

Above are some of the meals we had on the cruise. Looking at these photos I remember that whenever we ate from the buffet I used a small plate and did not go back for seconds. The beer was an Alaskan Kölsch which was really funny to me as Kölsch is the official beer of my hometown Cologne in Germany. It was surprisingly good!

I gained 2.8 lbs during the cruise so we’ll see what the scales say this Sunday. I am ok if it takes a couple of weeks to lose that again, this cruise was a special occasion and worth it. I am in this for the longhaul and learning how to ride the waves is part of the journey.