As a young girl, my family often took a cruise vacation during Christmas week. We traveled from one Caribbean island to the next, enjoyed many excursions, applauded our way through entertainment shows, and gambled until a depressing amount of money was lost. But, above all, and most celebrated, was the food.
My absolute favorite childhood food was steak. Maybe it was because I only had it for special occasions, which kept it a novelty. But, on the cruise we took when I was seventeen years old, I went crazy, and, let’s just say, truly took advantage of the all-you-can-eat aspect of a cruise. After seven nights of eating steak (“and, please bring me this other entree so I can ‘sample’ that, too.”), indulging in decadent desserts, snagging a few cookies on the way back from the pool, snacking on pizza mid-afternoon, and helping myself to the ice cream cone station too many times, I, finally, trudged off the ship feeling exorbitant and nauseated from gorging myself.
Not only did I feel ill, but when I saw the pictures after they were developed (we didn’t have iPhones then), I became even more disturbed. It wasn’t until that trip (yes, I really was oblivious for that long) that I gained an understanding of the fact that what I ate influenced my body and weight.
It wasn’t long after that cruise that my diet and behaviors changed. I never wanted to feel that way again. But, because of my personality, and other factors, the pendulum swung the other way.
Between the time of that cruise and the next (two years), I had developed a significant eating disorder. That time, instead of overindulgence, it was starvation and deprivation. Instead of pizza, it was lettuce. Instead of ice cream, it was fruit. Instead of smiles and laughter, it was anguish and despair. And instead of a muscular, athletic physique, I was weak, feeble, and unhealthily under weight.
After battling, and, eventually, overcoming my eating disorder, I never wanted to feel that way again either.
Fast forward fourteen years to this past week. My family went on a cruise for the first time since that dreadful one. And, that trip, to this day, was the last time I ate steak. And, just the sight of the food and other unique features onboard brought back distinct memories.
I managed to go a week on a cruise ship feeling healthier than I have for a long time. I exercised every morning in the fitness center, but not to excess. I ate all meals, indulged in treats, and enjoyed the buffet-style cafe, but all in moderation. It has taken years of working on it, and I will probably have to work at it for the rest of my life. But, if I am able to model body image, fitness, and diet in a healthy way for my children, then I will have reached my goal. And, though, a cruise ship is crossing dangerous territory for someone who has a history of weight and eating issues, I prevailed this past week. Finally, I found a middle ground between the previous two cruises, and I couldn’t be more delighted.