Battling the Bulge On Board

16 July 2008 By Jennifer Seitz

Let’s face it, staying in shape is difficult enough wherever you work and play. Staying fit as a crew professional offers its own share of challenges, but no obstacle is too great in the pursuit of a healthy body.

Combine the crew challenge of a hectic work schedule with an excellent on board chef who’s eager to share culinary treats with you, and you are well on your way toward expanding your waistline.

The festive lifestyle that goes hand in hand with being a crewmember onboard a yacht lends itself to the development of odd eating habits and inconsistent fitness routines. That’s a recipe for disaster that even your chef won’t appreciate.

Victory in this “battle of the bulge” is possible, and it's a battle worth winning in your yacht career. Here are some simple steps to avoid thunder thighs, shun the spare tire and keep cellulite at bay while you are working on a yacht:

Alter your eating habits

- Drop the fork and move away from the table. You are what you eat, so be careful what you consume. Portion sizes have snowballed over recent years, especially when eating in restaurants. Controlling your food intake can be your best defense in maintaining a stable weight.

- Pay attention to what goes in your mouth. Limit your fat calories, sugar and keep an eye on the carbohydrate intake. Don’t eat what you can’t easily burn off throughout the day. This is especially important for those working crazy schedules with little down time left for exercise.

- Become a smart snacker. Research shows that by eating five small, healthy meals per day, rather than three or fewer, you keep your metabolism rocking along at a better pace. You’ll also eliminate the “I’m starving” feeling that can lead to bad food choices and/or overeating.

- Think before you drink. Water and tea (unsweetened) are excellent beverages to keep your body functioning properly and keep cravings at bay. We often mistake thirst for hunger. Also, beware of the empty calories that come from liquids such as soda, alcohol (which quickly turns into sugar) and coffees with all the fixings. Tip: Drink your coffee black.

A body in motion stays in motion

- Make exercise a fun habit. Only you can choose the best time for some exercise. If you are on a busy yacht, you'll need to find time to make fitness a priority. Get up for exercise before the guests awake in the morning in order to maintain a 5 am workout routine. Once you’ve selected a time, force it to become a habit as best you can around your work schedule.

- Get your blood pumping. It’s impossible to burn fat without getting your heart rate up and keeping it up for a sustained amount of time. (Depending on your age, weight and fitness level this will vary but 20 minutes is good launching point.) If you don’t have access to a treadmill on board, you’ll have to resort to old fashioned-means like jumping jacks, steps (step up, step down), jump rope or running in place. None of these exercises requires much deck space.

- Seek and find motivation. Having trouble getting motivated? Leave no stone unturned. Find a crewmate who can push you toward better fitness. Select an iPod playlist that makes you forget the pain during exercise. Former Chief Stew Lisa Emmott found motivation to stay fit by taking in the scenery. “Combine some fresh air with exercise ashore in a new place,” she says. “On your day off, take the opportunity to go exploring when you're moored in a port you’ve never visited.”

At the end of the day, it really only boils down to three things:
- What you consume
- How much of it you burn off, and
- How dedicated you are to your goal of improved fitness.

Remember, you don’t have to look like a celebrity, you just want to get healthy and stay healthy. Set attainable goals and as you blow past them, keep raising the bar.

If you’re eating right and combining that with quality exercise, you’ll leave the bulge behind and be healthier to boot.

Got a great exercise routine? We’d love to hear about it!

How do you manage to exercise on a yacht? Share your creative tips in our comments section below.