I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to set new habits at home. There’s always the distraction of dirty laundry, the dog who wants to play ball or that friend who drops by (thankfully so) with a bottle of wine ‘just because’. I’ve been in a bit of funk lately, shuttling back and forth across the country to help care for my mother who suffered a debilitating stroke, while I juggle work and parenting requirements of my high-maintenance (but quite lovable) children. So I wondered about staying healthy on a cruise and using one to regain my physical and mental health.
I felt like it was time to get serious about a little self-nourishment, inside and out. My husband and I were invited by Carnival to experience their Carnival Splendor cruise along the Mexican Riviera, with destinations I had never visited including Cabo and Mazatlan – as well as Puerto Vallarta, my favorite Mexico vacation spot. I’ve done my share of cruises but I thought being held captive (albeit a willing one) at sea for seven days, seemed like the perfect opportunity to escape, unplug and reset my mind and body. Here’s what to know about staying healthy on a cruise:
I’m a yoga junky but don’t get to the studio nearly as often as I’d like. Those pesky things like household chores and client meetings seem to always get in the way. I generally put on my yoga gear first thing in the morning and too often, I find myself still in it at 5pm, without so much as one down dog. But now that I was at sea for a week, I had no excuse. As hard as it was, I rolled out of the my comfy rocking cradle every morning to attend the scheduled yoga and pilates classes. It energized and motivated me for the rest of the day.
2. Eating healthy
I know what you’re thinking. It seems counterintuitive – eating healthy on a cruise, known for their oversized plates and all-you-can-eat buffets, but it was a great opportunity to challenge myself and reset my eating goals. I was thrilled to see that the ship offered a wok station where I could load up on stir-fried veggies, an Indian cafe where the food was some of the best I’ve had, and a burrito bar with grilled veggies. I chose a small desert plate or cereal bowl for my meals and steered away from the large platter-sized plates. I wake up craving sugar and at home, too often opt for an overly sweet breakfast bar or my comfort-food-go-to of French toast. But on the ship, I loaded up a bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruits and I’m confident I’ve reset that breakfast switch, especially since this hearty meal kept me fueled until well after lunch.
As a writer, I spend most of my day sitting. And despite my fitness tracker telling me to get up and move, I don’t always comply. But a 951-foot long ship means you’re going to be doing a lot of walking (sadly, I lost my Fitbit just prior to the cruise but I’m quite sure I got in all of my steps daily). My cabin was far forward, so to hit the gym, spa, pool area or dining, I had quite a walk. And with 3,000 others on board, I often chose to take the stairs rather than wait for an elevator. Note to self: next cruise, choose a cabin far forward or aft to hit your step goals!
I unapologetically spent too much time (and money) at the spa. And I deserved a little self-indulgence. The relaxation room on the Carnival Splendor was my happy place. I’d often arrive rather early for a treatment and just get my zen on as I lounged on one of the teak beds draped with fabric, staring out over the ocean with some fruit water in hand. Reflexology, a hydration facial and Swedish massage were just what the doctor ordered to remind me that health starts from the inside out.
5. Alone time
I’m an out-of-the-closet introvert. I relish my alone time so I let the other 2,999 people on the ship get off to wander the ports, while I stayed behind and enjoyed the ship to myself. I had my own personal pool boy, waiter and bartender where I could nap in the sun, and find a little creative space.
Being miles and miles out at sea doesn’t give you much choice other than to put those devices away. The wifi was a bit spotty but I came to realize it was a gift from the gods. I mean, why do I need to read my 100+ daily emails while I’m on a luxury cruise ship in the middle of the ocean? What can’t wait til I’m in port or at home? I’m a recovering social media junky so I really appreciated the inability to interject my opinions into the latest political debates on Facebook. There’s something very deeply cleansing about logging off for a week.
I don’t even have to tell you how easy it is to catch up on your sleep as the motion of the ocean lulls you to sleep every night. The stress of my mother’s illness has stolen my ability to sleep through the night as I’m riddled with worry. But thanks to a few windy nights and the sounds of the ocean slapping the side of the ship, not to mention a surprisingly comfy bed, I actually slept quite well.
I’m thinking this needs to be an annual sabbatical for me, boarding a cruise ship where I can challenge my mind and body to press that reset button and recommit to healthy habits.
Thanks to Carnival for hosting my husband and me on the Splendor!