Getting Healthy for Good: Don’t Be a Statistic!

By Laurie Marshall

My sister and I recently spent a week away from our families, our jobs, and our daily responsibilities on a cruise to Mexico, Honduras and Belize. It was (and I’m not paid to say this) the ultimate in completely stress-free vacationing. If you have ever considered taking a cruise I cannot recommend it highly enough. Save your pennies and make it happen!

Now, I do have to state that our feelings of complete adoration for the whole idea of being away from home for a week were definitely highly dependent on the fact that we were – seriously – AWAY. The 25 or so minutes I spent that week using the computers available in the library to send a couple of messages home via Facebook cost me almost $30.00. That was $30.00 I could have spent on 2.5 really tasty frozen drinks! I didn’t even take my laptop *gulp!* and I turned off my phone as we headed out of the port in New Orleans because my carrier was threatening to charge me $19.99 per minute to use it. Uhhh…. I am available to my family 51 weeks a year… fruity drinks for the win!!

On the schedule was a first-night welcome program featuring the Cruise Director, Kyle, and since we were cruising for the first time we decided we’d better stop in. One of the most important announcements Kyle made that evening was that the average weight gain a person experiences on a cruise is 1 – 2 pounds A DAY. People!!!! We were headed off on a 7-day cruise!!!

Since we’d already been away from port for at least three hours there was no option of just grabbing our bags and running back down the gangplank. I think the timing of that evil announcement was intentional. I started thinking about the clothes I’d packed, and knew with certainty that if I packed on even the minimum seven pounds, I’d be wearing a bedsheet off the boat at the end of the week. After my sister and I sucked up our tears of horror and stopped our wailing (people were looking at us funny), we pinky-swore that we would NOT be statistics!!

Day 2 dawned to a tropical depression making its way up the eastern side of the Gulf of Mexico, and provided a lovely view of white-capped ocean swells off our balcony. I got up, took a couple of pictures, and immediately threw up. Brilliant! Not only would I not gain seven pounds, but perhaps a good bout of sea-sickness would knock a couple of pounds off my beginning weight! I spent the day in bed recalling some ill-advised nights in my early 20s, but rested well knowing that I had no laundry waiting to be done, or meals to be made… I can’t remember the last time I was able to lie in bed and sleep all day when I was sick. I assured my sister (who was perfectly comfortable finding her way around the ship on her own) that although I was sick, I was still thrilled to be ON VACATION!

By the end of the day our steward had rounded up some sea-sickness pills for me, and the seas had calmed, so our first day in port was fine. I had no trouble the rest of the trip, thankfully. So let’s talk about the food… I was a little nervous about the fact that in the buffet area, and in select fine restaurants, we could order anything we wanted, and eat as many meals as we liked. If I wanted to try one of each entree in the main dining room, I could. I realized quickly though, that if I didn’t have to buy the food, cook the meal, and store the leftovers, it was incredibly easy for me to stop eating when I felt full. I didn’t feel obligated to clean my plate. It was an interesting revelation. I began to scheme about how I could possibly afford to hire a personal chef…

I was reminded that week that I really love fresh fruits and veggies. I don’t eat as much salad and steamed veggies at home as I did on my cruise simply because when I buy those things at home I end up throwing a lot of it away I’m the only one eating them regularly. Because I was I filling up on the healthy options at each meal, I was able to allow myself dessert every night.

The cruise line we were on allows passengers to bring water, sodas, and other beverages onboard the ship, so we split a case of water among our pieces of luggage to have in our room and to take off the ship in the ports. You can buy a “plan” to be able to drink soda on the ship, but not only did I not want to pay $50 for the week (frozen drinks, remember?), I also found out that they only carried Pepsi products, which I loathe. Water was perfect.

In the ports we visited, we scheduled two excursions that included having lunch with local families, and in another we ate at a local restaurant. It may be due to the high of just being on the trip, but that food was some of the best I had on the trip. Lots of rice and veggies and fruit, steamed fish, stewed chicken… when I looked back at the end of the week I realized that we really were able to eat very healthy on the trip without ever feeling that we were denying ourselves any treats. We did skip the chocolate buffet, but only because it was after 10pm and we were exhausted. And we heard it was usually wall-to-wall people… not our idea of fun and relaxation.

In the end, when I stepped on my scale back at home Monday morning I had only gained 1.5 pounds!! Heck, I can do that at home with one trip to Buffalo Wild Wings! The exercise we got in each port (ruins hiking, beach snorkeling, town wandering…), the prevalence of fresh-food options, and the avoidance of sugary soda or too many alcoholic beverages paid off. And I STILL feel like it was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had. My sister and I both paid the deposit on another cruise in the future. Can’t wait to start planning!

Look for Laurie’s fitness tips and updates on her personal health-focused journey every other Friday on nwaMotherlode in Mom Blogs. Send questions or input to her at Or click on the comment button below and share your thoughts right now! To see previous installments of Getting Healthy for Good, click HERE.