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Losing weight with the 'Cruise Ship Diet'
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A cruise is the perfect environment for weight gain: food everywhere, huge dining rooms and buffet lines, long hours at sea with nothing to do but eat, and limited time and opportunity for exercise. There couldnt be a worse place to diet, right? - photo by Linda and Richard Eyre
As we mentioned in a couple of earlier columns, going on an effective diet can be one of the best gifts we can give our children and our spouse it is the gift of a longer and better life together. Today, we want to add a little to this thought in the form of what we now call the Cruise Ship Diet.

Talk about an oxymoron! Has anyone ever lost weight on a cruise ship?

Actually, yes, someone has! Well tell you who later.

As reported by the Daily Mail, a study conducted by cruise travel agency BonVoyage.uk revealed that about half of the passengers on a two-week cruise gain 14 pounds. CruiseReviews.com likewise reported that the average cruise ship passenger gains 5-10 pounds during a seven-day cruise.

A cruise is the perfect environment for weight gain: food everywhere, huge dining rooms and buffet lines, long hours at sea with nothing to do but eat, and limited time and opportunity for exercise. And having paid a lot for the cruise, people feel they need to eat a lot to get their moneys worth. There couldnt be a worse place to diet, right?

But when you think about it, our normal, everyday life has become a lot like a cruise ship. Food is so plentiful and available and cheap and fast. We are surrounded by food whether we are in our homes or driving down the street. It takes time to exercise, but not to eat. We can grab food fast almost anywhere. Since time is scarce, we eat faster, but we dont eat less.

In our earlier diet columns, we made the case that portion control is the key. Our basic premise there, and of Richards new book, The Half-Diet Diet, is that it is not so much about what we eat as it is about how much of it we eat and the metaphor is that we need to bridle our appetites much as we bridle a horse to make it serve us rather than run away with us.

Now, getting to the point about the cruise: By coincidence, we were scheduled to speak on a cruise in the South Pacific in early January, just as our diet book was being published. Someone suggested that if we really wanted to test the viability of the diet and the four habits that it suggests, we should try to implement them on the cruise.

Give it the acid test, our friend said. If it works on a cruise, it will work anywhere.

So we did. For the 13 days we were on that floating food court, we practiced:

The water habit (drinking a glass of water before each meal or snack)

The slow habit (taking small bites, and setting the fork down and smelling, sipping, savoring and swallowing each bite before picking up the fork again)

The exercise habit (20 minutes of aerobic exercise every day)

The ultimate half habit (splitting everything into two halves and then only eating one half)

Maybe we were only able to do it with consistency because we had told the people we were traveling with what we were doing, and they came around to our table at every meal like clockwork to check on us and see whether we were actually eating only half of the food on our plates.

But guess what: It worked!

Instead of putting on 13 or 14 pounds, we each lost a few pounds, and what we gained was increased confidence that we can keep on doing it. We actually said to ourselves, many times, If we can do this on a cruise ship, we can do it everywhere.

The only thing we lack, now that we are off the boat, is all those folks checking on us and keeping us monitored and motivated.

Perhaps we can recommit ourselves by telling you, our readers, right here in this column, that we are going to stick with this eat-half diet. And in the days and weeks ahead, either in reality or in our imagination, you might be watching us in a restaurant, at a food court or even at a Jazz game checking to see if we practice what we preach. And that might motivate us to keep working at it and to keep feeling as great as we always do when we just eat half.

Join us. If you do it right, you will actually enjoy the half you do eat more than you used to enjoy the whole thing.

And remember: Its for your spouse and your kids.
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