Having taken a cruise before, I knew that overeating was going to be my biggest challenge - and it was. There is so much food available at every hour of the day I couldn't help myself. Sure, I still ate plenty of fruits and vegetables, but I didn't pass up any opportunity for dessert and I tried pretty much everything my taste buds desired. I left the dinning room uncomfortably full after each and every meal. Yes, I felt guilty, but I still will have fond memories of all the fried sweet plantains and slices of English bacon that I consumed.
In order to offset my feelings of guilt about overeating, I vowed to keep up my regular training schedule. To that end, I squeezed in a short workout before I went to the airport at the start of vacation and did on an uphill bike ride & push-up session the evening I returned.
Exercising at home is easy, but while I was away from home I had to be a bit creative. Here are a few of the things I did to keep in shape while traveling.
- I did a hard stair climbing session (stairwell sprints) in the hotel I stayed at before getting on the cruise ship. The stairwell was very hot & humid (being in Miami) but I took my breaks in the air-conditioned hotel. Table 1 shows a comparison between my practice staircase and the hotel's stairwell. You can see the stairwells are significantly different, and it was fun* to try something new. Here is what I noticed:
- All the extra turns in a shorter stairwell significantly slowed down my overall speed.
- Using double rails gives a pretty good upper back workout compared with using only single rails. Although I didn't really notice during the workout, my back muscles were sore the following day.
- My quads never really gave out during this workout, even though I took relatively shorter breaks. I believe this was a combination of:
- Slower ascent times (i.e. less power used) because of all the turns.
- More upper body power utilized because of the double rails.
- Relatively shorter overall height.
- My lungs were pretty raw on the last few ascents, so I know I put in a solid effort.
- Double rails are great for descending. By grabbing both sides of the rail I could easily take two step at a time. This method was pretty fast and didn't tire out the calves (i.e. no DOMS).
*In the case of stair climbing, the term"fun" and "pain" get kind of mixed up.
- I did another hard stair climbing workout (stair well sprints) the last day of the cruise. Cruise ships are so tall that you can easily get in a good climbing workout climbing up the main staircase. Table 1 shows a comparison between the cruise ship and my practice stairwell. Here are a few things I experienced:
- Similar to the hotel's stairwell, I noticed all all the extra turns on the cruise ship's stairwell really slowed down my climbing speed.
- An annoying issue was that there were people loitering on the staircase - no matter what time of day - which added a few seconds to many of my ascents.
- The elevator ride down is fast, but often would fill up with people stopping on every floor. I received a few funny stares.
- My legs never really gave out. I think the extra resting break, slower ascents (because of the extra turns), and taking the elevator down played a role in keeping my quads fresh.
(items in yellow are estimated)
- The fitness center on the cruise ship (Norwegian Getaway) was well equipped and it even had a stepper and a rower. It made going to the gym a lot easier, but I still ran into a few challenges:
- The stepper wasn't the same brand that I typically use so I had to let my breathing rate be my guide when I did my 5x4 minute intervals. I started off a bit too slow, but by the final interval I was really pushing my limit.
- The rower was a blessing. Having a "Concept2" rower really made my day since I was able to replicate my standard rowing workout on the cruise ship.
- Although the ship advertised TRX cables, Unfortunately, they were only available during a few group fitness classes (which cost extra $$$). The fitness staff was always strangely absent so I never even had a chance to borrow a set. Instead I made do with wall sits, lunges, and goblet squats. I'll need to find another good quad exercise or purchase my own set of cables for travel.
- The hamstring curl machine was a complete dud. It was in good working order, but it wasn't ergonomically sound. I think only a contortionist would have felt comfortable in that contraption (wish I took a photo). I need to broaden my repertoire of hamstring exercises so this sort of thing doesn't happen again.
When I finally returned home from vacation, I dreaded stepping on the scale. The week-and-a-half long non-stop eating binge should have added a few extra pounds to my waistline. I was in for a big surprise when I hopped on the scale and I was still at my pre-vacation weight!
I'm not sure why the scale didn't budge. I've been struggling with weight all summer and it took a few months (and lots of dedication) just to drop a few pounds. I can only guess that my metabolism was able to keep up with the extra calories because I made it a priority to stay active - which correlates well with my last cruising experience. Great lesson learned - but I'm still glad to be back on my regular healthy diet!