We’re on vacation: no work, drink more than usual, abandon normal dietary controls, and don’t exercise… Well, that’s the formula used by far too many vacationers, especially those over 60, and especially those on cruises. We were on a cruise in the South Pacific two years ago. On board was a Canyon Ranch Spa! Being exercise zealots, we were in the gym every day for a couple of hours, and additionally took yoga, Pilates and other fitness classes. We watched our diet, didn’t over consume, didn’t eat one of those fresh morning cinnamon rolls, did active shore excursions and came back 5 pounds lighter! Regrettably, we watched our shipmates expand…waistlines, that is. Multiple trips to the breakfast, lunch and dinner buffet lines, lots of those fresh cinnamon rolls, not one but two trips to the ice cream dispensary at lunch (it was hot and humid, after all), fine dining restaurants, and oh those desserts! Certainly didn’t see most of them in the gym. So what’s wrong with a little excess? After all, we’re on vacation!
On this 15-day cruise, it was easy to follow the mainstream vacationer’s journey and consume 5,000 to 8,000 calories a day. That easily translates into 1 to 2 pounds of daily weight gain. (it takes a surplus of 3,500 calories/day to gain 1 pound per day – an ice cream sundae can be over 1,000 calories and over 30 grams of mostly saturated fat). So, that equates to 15-30 pounds over the course of the trip if you really don’t control consumption and don’t exercise to increase caloric burn. To return home and resume normal activities will keep that 15-30 pounds on your frame, most of which will be visceral and abdominal fat which raises your risk of heart attack, diabetes, etc. Let’s say you go on a diet to get back to where you were, which might not be where you want to be. Faithful dieting and incremental exercise (not just what you were doing before the trip, but more vigorous, more often and for longer times) would take you about 4 months to recover to your baseline. Time for another cruise?
I know this seems a bit obvious, but think of that vacation as a time to get healthy, reduce your stress, exercise more (most people say they’d like to do this anyway), do as much physical activity tourism as you are capable of doing. You can eat things you don’t normally eat, but everything is OK in moderation. Keep that calorie intake at normal or just above normal levels. SKIP THE BUFFET lines, and just order from a menu, less rather than more.
Have a happy, and healthy vacation!