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How to Enjoy your Vacation Without Gaining any Weight

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By Christine Ardigo MS RD

I just returned from a week long cruise with my family and friends, all 42 of us. Gorgeous 85 degree temps, glistening transparent oceans, and of course, tons of food!

Those of you that know me, know I have a serious obsession love desserts! My friend James and I had the pleasure of sharing every dessert created on the ship. One night in particular, I couldn’t decide between 7 different scrumptious ones so I asked James to help me eat them. He thought I was insane, but I ordered each and every one and yes, we devoured all 7 of them. This went on for the remainder of the trip.


Did I gain any weight?


What! How could that be? Did I workout at the fitness center for three hours every day? Did I run around the track on the top deck for two hours daily?


How is this possible? Normally I am an active person in the sense that I love trying new things like HERE and HERE and HERE, but my career as an RD has me sitting behind a desk most of the day, writing in patient’s charts. Yes, I eat a lot more on vacation. I love trying new foods, that in itself is exciting, but my vacations involve lots of activities too.

If you’re planning on eating more, then you have to work it off. If you want to spend your trip lying under a palm tree reading a novel, then you don’t need triple portions of bacon and sausage at the buffet.

I spent the week taking the stairs from my 6th floor cabin, up to all the different activities on the 11-13th floors. My cabin was also at the front of the ship, whereas most of the activities were in the back. The walking alone burned more calories than I would normally. And the off shore excursions provided even more chances to burn off the food.

Like kayaking:1620563_10203256298078307_1797396145_n


wind surfing: 1796415_10203256317238786_1138862926_n



Jet Skiing:1794564_10203313241538826_200681585_n


and Snorkeling:1505991_10203313247498975_1495633848_n

Sadly, the cruise ship contained many obese passengers whom I witnessed taking the elevators, lounging in the hot tub, gambling in the casino and balancing 2 or 3 plates of food on top of each other. If this is your type of cruise, you WILL gain weight. Some people think if the food is free, they are entitled to eat triple the amount of food they normally do. Yes, the food is all you can eat, but that doesn’t mean get your money’s worth. In the end, you’re only harming your body.

Vacations should either be:

  1. To relax, read a book, sleep, dip your toes in the pool, get that tan, stroll along the beach and have a romantic conversation with your loved one, or
  2. One in which you get involved like we did by getting in a few games of:

Volleyball: 1781990_10203257394985729_531172107_n

Ice Skating: 1780828_10203257354704722_789789997_n

Flow rider:11


Tubing and Sliding:71580_10203256424041456_1902702546_n 1554446_10203256486563019_1543593576_n

and Rock Climbingcruise14

(Are you exhausted after looking at all these pictures? Now you know why we didn’t gain any weight!)

These are the ways to enjoy your vacation. Not a gorging, gluttonous food carnival, where you gain ten pounds in 6 days. (How much extra food do you need to eat to gain ten pounds in 6 days!!!)

[The answer is 35,000 (thousand) extra calories, by the way.]

If you want to enjoy the food, then make this your opportunity to try new things. Do you really need double portions of french fries, hamburgers, and pizza? 1798808_10203351184607379_1395878912_n

Try something new. How about:

  • Orecchiette Pasta with Short Rib Ragu
  • Thai Chicken with Red Curry and Edamame
  • Garlic Tiger Shrimp
  • Smoked Duck and Pear salad
  • Escargots
  • Greek Vegetarian Moussaka
  • Grilled Salmon with Snow Peas and Artichokes
  • Creme Brulee with Caramelized Bananas
  • Baked Alaska Pie

This is your chance. You’re taking a vacation to escape your monotonous life and meals. Experience other cultural treats, different spices, and new taste combinations.

Here’s the deal:

  1. Be active, take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  2. Walk as much as possible.
  3. Participate in a new activity or sport you’ve never tried before
  4. When you eat at buffets, go for a tiny portion of each food or try something different
  5. At sit down meals, this is your chance to try a new delicacy. Try the Asian Coconut Seafood Soup and the Horseradish-Crusted Atlantic Salmon, and skip the steak.
  6. Share a few desserts with a buddy


Bottom Line: (like I always say) Is this a once in a lifetime vacation? Then forget everything I said and enjoy your time with family and friends, but when you get back home, do the right thing!

Special thanks to James for taking most of these pictures on our cruise! website2Thanks James!

What have you found that works to help maintain your weight during vacation?       Did you gain weight on a cruise? Please share your ideas with me!

I love hearing from you!

The greatest compliment you can give me is when you share this with others.
I sincerely appreciate it:

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96 Thoughts on “How to Enjoy your Vacation Without Gaining any Weight

  1. Great info in here and great pictures, looks amazing! Love the activities and advice that especially in a cruise you don’t have to come off of it ten pounds heavier than when you first arrived.

    • Christine on February 8, 2014 at 2:34 pm said:

      Thank you Anna! Yes it was a lot of fun, lots of activities to keep you going. I think if i DIDNT eat more i probably would have LOST weight!

      • LOL!!! I want to go on a cruise so bad to do some of those activities I used to be afraid to be “stuck on a boat”, but you are as active as you want to be as on land :).

  2. Great suggestions. I find that if I eliminate bread at dinner and try to minimize it altogether, that keeps me on track. Probably like you, I love to eat. Try new cultural foods, etc… But just limiting bread and soda is an easy omit, that pays dividends in having to work off 3-5 added pounds from a week away of routine life.

  3. Robin Blumstein on February 8, 2014 at 4:33 pm said:

    Going on a cruise this summer and I will remember all your helpful tips. As usual you are always helpful!

  4. Another amazing story. You taught me how to make healthy fun. The gym can get horribly boring. These action sports are a lot more fun. I had a friend and his kids visit me in NY. One day we walked over the Brooklyn Bridge and back (for Grimaldi’s pizza), another we rented bikes, rode around Central Park, down to the Hudson River, down to Battery Park and back up to the Upper West Side. One day, my friend and his son and I did a baseball workout (he was on his way to Cooperstown for a tourney). We ate every meal out. Didn’t deprive ourselves and I lost two pounds while they were here.

    Again, Christine, you are an amazing resource and we are all lucky to have you in our life.

    Glad you had so much fun on your much-needed vacation

    • Christine on February 8, 2014 at 5:14 pm said:

      Thank you. Okay, but i want to see pictures of you doing all those crazy activities! I will hold you to it!

    • Christine on February 8, 2014 at 5:15 pm said:

      Hee hee. BLUSH. Thank you. Your day in the city sounds fun! And you lost weight, how awesome is that.
      I am sure they will always remember the time spent with you!

  5. Though I am a landlubber for sure, this looks like a fun vacation! Cruises are notorious for the buffets and the food, and most people I know come back a few pounds heavier. You are right about staying active–if you pack lots of fun activities into your itinerary, you can burn off most of those excess calories. Thanks for sharing your vacation:)

    • Christine on February 9, 2014 at 8:42 am said:

      Thank you Denise. It was a lot of fun. There was so much to do, time always ran out. Life is short, enjoy it to the fullest!

  6. So true. I did do a lot of desserts… and I felt like I ate more than I usually do… but I didn’t gain any weight . In fact the day after I returned I got on my scale and was surprised to see that I was 1lb less than when I left for my cruise. Did a lot of physical activities … including volley ball, dancing and walking . Also other than the 1st night… I passed on the bread during dinner… I think that def made a difference too. Thanks for the Info and encouragement.

    • Christine on February 9, 2014 at 8:44 am said:

      You’re welcome! The best of both worlds. Just goes to prove that if you want to eat more, you just have to exercise more. Find fun things to do and it will be a “piece of cake.”

  7. What a wonderful post and great photos.
    The “taking the stairs” hits home. My kids always want to take the elevator at the Y after swim lessons. I always say no because we’re here to exercise. It surprises me how many people who are able to walk up stairs take an elevator.
    I love the picture of the child eating spaghetti!

  8. Yes! I’ve been on two cruises, ate as much of the food that was “worth it” as I wanted, and did not gain weight because I also was quite active. Plus, seeing obese people overindulge makes me think twice about my own intake.

    (Stopping by from SitsGirls Comment Love!)

  9. You give me HOPE for my next vacation!

  10. What a great article! I am a great lover of food myself! I am planning a vacation with my family and really didn’t realize that I could splurge on great food while staying active! Thank you so much for sharing!

  11. Great tips and pics! I usually maintain my weight even whole pigging out on vacation because of all the walking we do! #SITSBlogging

  12. Such a great post, and so RIGHT! We went on a cruise a couple years ago, and it was crazy how many obese people were just eating All. The. Time. and then doing nothing that required movement. We ate LOTS of food, but made sure to do many of the same tips you suggest, especially the stairs instead of elevators. That alone is quite the work out!

    Curious: Which cruise line/ship did you go on?

  13. What a great vacation! One of my girls really wants to go on a cruise one day, but I’m more of a land person–your’s looked fun, though! Visiting from SITS 🙂

  14. Excellent tips – especially encouraging folks to try new things food wise instead of the same old junk! #SITSBlogging

  15. I need a vacation! Great tips! Visiting from SITS comment challenge!

  16. Love the tips on staying active. Great pictures!!!!!

  17. I’ll be honest. When I go on a cruise, I just got for it. If I want to try four desserts that night, I will. I might only take spoonfuls of each, but I like to indulge and try things I might not be able to try otherwise. I might have more wine and cocktails than normal, but it’s all about allowing myself to relax and not be so hard on myself for that one week! Sure I take elevators and I might over indulge, but I also walk a ton on the ships (they are huge after all) and get a lot of other exercise while doing excursions, etc. Visiting from #SitsBlogging

  18. I worry that I am going to gain weight when my family goes on a cruise in March. Great ideas to keep busy and active, even the little things like taking the stairs!! #SITSBlogging

    • Christine on February 10, 2014 at 2:18 pm said:

      There were times when i thought i ate too much, but i was so active i would be starving all the time! SO i think i worked out more than I ate!

  19. What a great perspective to have regarding vacation and exercise. It makes your vacation still fun, but continuing your healthy pursuits. Love it! I am visiting from the SITS Comment Love Challenge.

  20. Your vacation looks super active! I’m excited for the weather to clear up so we can start doing more active things like hiking!

  21. What great timing. I am actually going to be heading on a cruise myself at the end of the month so this was a great reminder that you can still enjoy your vacation and be healthy about it at the same time. And since I know I will partaking in the eating of all the desserts while on the cruise I think I may just need to come back and give this another read right before hopping on the boat.

    Stopping by from SITS Comment Love. 🙂

  22. You’re amazing. I go on vacay and come back a million lbs heavier. Our last cruise in may I tried to stay fairly low carb…. but….FAIL! I didn’t gain much tho. Just a lb or two. Looks like you had an INCREDIBLE trip!

    Off to enjoy more of your blog! Visiting via #sitsblogging

  23. That cruise looks amazing! I can see how you didn’t put on weight with all those fun activities!

  24. I’m sure the pictures don’t do it justice, but it looks like you had a fabulous vacation! I loved this post–it was so full of helpful tips, and ones that made staying active on vacation seem easy (who would have thought!). I especially love the tip of taking the stairs (I try to do that instead of the elevator all the time), but it’s so smart!

    I ‘m going to use your tips for vacay but also for everyday life–from one sweet tooth to another, it’s great to share dessert, then you get to try more!

  25. Love this article. Great suggestions! Always wanted to try rock climbing. Just might have to see if it is available on my next vacation.

  26. Ordering 7 desserts to share is totally something I would do! Ha! That vacation looks like it was a blast. The only thing I would have added is horse back riding on the beach (which is great for your abs, butt, and thighs). #SITSblogging

    • Christine on February 10, 2014 at 9:11 pm said:

      Ha ha. I cant resist. (luckily they were all small)
      I have never gone horse back riding but doing that on the beach sounds wonderful!

  27. Looks like you had fun on your vacation. One thing I think is important is that if you do gain weight while on vacation, you need to forgive yourself for it and get back on track when you get home.

    • Christine on February 10, 2014 at 9:09 pm said:

      Yup, always move forward. I tell people that if they just lose 1 pound a week, they can lose 52 pounds by next year. A year sounds like a long time but POOF it’s here before you know it! 🙂

  28. I have always wanted to go on a cruise! It’s a plan in the making for the distant future. Looks like you had a really great time! The food looks delectable. I agree with some of these commentors: I’d want to go for the dessert table at least 3 times in one day while on vacation! I love this blog. I needed to come across it today. I’m going to follow you now!

    Stopping by from SITS Girls “Spread The Comment Love” challenge. 🙂

    • Christine on February 10, 2014 at 9:07 pm said:

      Thank you. Last year was my first cruise with them. I eat my meal fast so i can get to the dessert! hee hee
      Let me know if there is any way i can help you!

  29. I have been on a couple of cruises and I agree that taking the stairs and walking from the front of the ship to the back burns up a lot of calories. It looks like you had fun and that is the most important thing.

  30. Wow! 42 of you! looks like an amazing time! Stopping by from #sitsblogging

  31. Wow – the vacation looks great and since our winter has been the pits, I would love to transform myself there right now! Visiting from #SITSBLogging

  32. Awesome post, Christine! I agree with your points 100%! My tips to stay thin on vacation and at home too are to: eat as much as you need, but not more, drink tons of water, and move! They work wonders, I never need to even check the scale because I know I’m on track just by following these simple rules!

    • Christine on February 11, 2014 at 7:16 am said:

      So true! I dont even own a scale. I know when I’ve overdone it or havent worked out as much, It is always a constant reminder to get back into it!!

  33. What great tips. I’m planning on a Disney vacation next year and I’m hoping all the walking etc. will give me a little extra wiggle room for indulgence.

  34. Yep – I love active vacations! Work trips are harder, but vacations I like to walk, walk, walk, go for a run, climb to the highest tower in the city, things like that. So glad you enjoyed yourself!

  35. Now that’s how everyone should enjoy a vacation! Yo gotta try allll the desserts! I love it. I always have a hard time limiting the food when I’m on vacation. It’s just so nice to have someone else cook for a change. And yes, I usually gain weight. But you’re right on the mark when you said to do the right thing once you get home. It’s nice to vacation, but it’s also nice to get back to the real world! Stopping by from SITS. Enjoyed skimming your blog. You have a lot of useful information here!

  36. Wow, I love how active you all were! You made your vacation look like so much fun- I’ve never done all those water sports, but I’d love to 🙂

  37. I am so ready for our family vacation–this looks fantastic! When I go on vacation I usually don’t gain weight because I’m running behind 4 kids and a husband 😉 JK but we’re a family of fitness trainers so we do most of wait you suggested– great information

  38. Christine, these are excellent tips for not gaining weight while on vacation! I always have a tough time with that because I am slightly addicted to desserts as well! (All of your pictures made me hungry for some chocolate mousse! Mmm…)

    P.S. Thanks so much for the comment on my book list post and the Goodreads add! xo

    Courtney @ Little Miss MBA

  39. What great advice. I usually use my vacation as time to fall of my good eating wagon but I love to participate in activities. So I sort of balance myself out. Your pictures are really awesome and really has me wishing for warm weather. #SITSBlogging

  40. I would LOVE to go on vacation on this! It looked like a lot of fun and good eating! Very great tips, Thanks for sharing =)

  41. Looks like you and your family had a great vacation. So many fun activities. I love the dessert idea too! I am stopping by from #SITSblogging!

  42. Looks like a great vacation! I’ve never gone on a long cruise, just a mini weekend one, and I too saw a lot of very overweight people who spent a LOT of time eating multiple meals. People in the US are so nutty about over eating….Your ideas make a lot of sense. Great to have all the memories of such a nice trip. #SITSblogging

    • Christine on February 11, 2014 at 8:07 pm said:

      It’s a disease. All behavioral, psychological. 🙁
      There’s a lot of healthy people here too. (watching the Olympics now as i type this)

  43. Wow, I’m impressed. I’m glad to hear that you can go a cruise, enjoy food, and not gain weight! Staying active is key. Great suggestions for our 2014 cruise.

  44. It sounds and looks like you guys had a fabulous time. It’s so wonderful to enjoy these priceless family moments.

  45. This is sound advice. I love all the pictures of the activities you got to enjoy. I love doing many of the things you got to enjoy while on the vacation. Thanks for sharing your adventure with us.

  46. I actually end up losing weight on my vacations, especially cruises. My job has me sitting a lot and when I am on vacation I am not a lounger. I try to pick excursions that are active so I don’t feel guilty eating everything I want.:-) I am also obsessed with desserts!:-) #SITSblogging

  47. Daniela on February 15, 2014 at 3:57 am said:

    Vacations are all about good food, so thanks for the great tips!
    Visiting from #SITSblogging

    Put A Bird On It

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