Monday, June 21, 2010

What I Did on Vacation

We’re (finally) back home from our family vacation, so beware: I am about to bore you with details of our Alaskan cruise.

Alaska was beautiful (but what's with all the Sarah Palin calendars for sale? And in June?) and the weather couldn’t have been better, but there wasn’t a whole lot we could do with our kids and our parents in tow. It turns out that AARP members and pre-schoolers don’t have a lot of mutual interests other than the ship’s all-you-can-eat buffet. We ate plenty of meals at the two main dining rooms onboard, but the buffet restaurant scored the biggest hit with our family. The kids loved the 24-hour access to ice cream and French fries, and their grandparents enjoyed ingesting massive -- possibly toxic -- amounts of fruit. (They were taking no chances with scurvy.)

M and I carefully steered clear of the buffet's endless aisle o’ bread ‘n pastries, which didn’t look all that appetizing to me despite the homey glow of the heat lamps. Still, it was eye-opening to witness some of our fellow passengers load up their plates with as much carbohydrate content as possible. (I saw someone stack eight pieces of whole wheat toast on her plate and then head over to the pancake station to ladle a huge glob of imitation maple syrup over her tower of bread. She explained to her companion: “The French toast is too soggy.”) The amount of sugary (and sugar-loaded) food items on garish display at the buffet was almost enough to send anyone into diabetic shock by just looking at it.

To be honest, M and I ate a lot, too, but we tried to stick mostly to the meat, eggs and vegetables. Breakfast usually consisted of eggs (or an omelet), bacon, sausage and plain yogurt with berries. For lunch, we had heaping veggie-loaded salads with whatever meat was being carved up. And dinner was usually more meat (steak, pork, lamb, etc.) or fish.

We also ate freakish quantities of nuts. We purchased about eight pounds of nuts in Seattle to bring with us on the ship, and made bags and bags of trail mix in our cabin -- but that wasn’t enough for me. There was a cheese station at the buffet where you could spoon some nuts and dried fruit onto your plate to accompany your cheese slices (or blocks, depending on your level of hunger/gluttony). But every time I passed by, I loaded up whatever empty container I happened to have with me -- coffee cup, soup bowl, Ziplock bag, pants pockets -- with fistfuls of nuts. On the last night of the cruise, I walked by the cheese station again, and they were completely out of nuts. I like to think I had something to do with that.

Besides eating, our primary activities on the ship were: (1) sleeping, (2) keeping the kids from hurtling things overboard (although our five-year-old did manage to kick his shoe into the frigid waters of Glacier National Park), (3) compulsively washing our hands to avoid the risk of contracting illnesses involving “diarrhea and vomiting,” as the helpful signs in the elevators put it, and (4) trying to find time to exercise.

Eighty-five percent of a cruise is spent cooped up in a floating hotel. About a third of that time is spent eating, and another third is spent sleeping. And unless you love gambling, drinking, playing shuffleboard and/or bingo, or buying really overpriced, mass-manufactured “art” on the high seas, you might as well go work out. One great benefit of having lots of adult family members aboard: Free babysitting while you hit the gym.

Sadly, the fitness center on the cruise ship was less than awesome. Sure, the view from the row of cardio machines was incredible; passengers looking to trudge endlessly on the ellipticals and treadmills could gaze for hours out the floor-to-ceiling windows at the water stretching to the horizon. But there was little space in the narrow gym for anything other than cardio and weight machines. Three benches were bracketed by two small dumbbell racks -- and that was it.

And don’t get me started on the water situation. Thirsty gym-goers had three choices: (1) bring their own water bottles; (2) line up at the one water fountain in the busiest corner of the fitness center with a tiny Dixie cup in hand, or (3) pay $4.50 for a bottle of water.

One saving grace? The gym had a pull-up bar. This is huge. Most hotel gyms don’t have one, figuring that a lat pull-down machine is sufficient. For this cruise ship to have a pull-up bar was awesome -- especially for someone like me, who’s just starting to get into CrossFit, a program that heavily features pull-ups.

Another plus: The gym was next to the pool deck, which had lots of sturdy benches built at the edge of the swimming pools. For most of our time at sea, it was too cold for swimming, so the deck was mostly empty, which meant I could use the benches in place of plyo boxes for depth jumping without too many people laughing at me.

Anyway, for those of you who are keeping track, below are my past week’s workouts. None took more than an hour (most took far less time), but with the exception of the Sunday workouts, each day's session kicked me in the balls.


Before we checked out of our hotel in Seattle, I ran from the Westlake Center downtown to Cafe Flora (at East Madison and 29th -- a restaurant we visited regularly when we were last in Seattle) and back. On the way back, I stopped at Trader Joe's and bought a few big bags of nuts, which wasn't a smart idea given that I still had a few more miles to run and no easy way to carry my purchases. (Again: I like nuts.)


Bodyweight Fran workout (21-15-9 reps of burpees and pull-ups)


Half-Angie (50 pull-ups, 50 push-ups, 50 squats, 50 sit-ups), but not done for time
3 X 6 dumbbell bench presses
3 X 6 dumbbell back rows
10 X 10 plyo box jumps
4 minutes Tabata row
The other half of Angie (50 pull-ups, 50 push-ups, 50 squats, 50 sit-ups), not done for time


6 X 5 pull-ups
6 X 4 pistols
100 plyo box jumps (broken up into as few sets as possible)
6 X 25 push-ups
6 X 25 sit-ups
6X 25 squats


5-minutes of L-sit (it look me almost 12 minutes to do this, and my “L” often looked more like an “N”)
50 long-form burpees (1X squat, 1X push-up, 1X sit-up, 1X superman, 1X tuck jump)


3 X 6 dumbbell bench presses
3 X 6 dumbbell back rows
3 X 6 pull-ups - feet-to-bar
3 X 6 corkscrew dumbbell shoulder presses
3 X 6 chin-ups - feet-to-bar
3 X 6 pistols


For time: 100 plyo box jumps (it took me 4:10 - ugh)
20 bodyblasters (burpee to pull-up to knees-to-elbows)
Run 5K (on the ship’s jogging track, where people kept gawking at my Vibram FiveFingers and saying helpful things like: “You look like you have otter feet.”)
20 more bodyblasters

Sunday (yesterday):

M and I carried a bunch of luggage and two small children off a cruise ship, up and down rainy hills in Seattle, to the airport, on a plane, and off a plane.

I need a vacation.