Fitness Afloat: Balancing meals on board

Tomorrow marks our 2-month cruising anniversary and we’ve learned an extraordinary number of things on this trip so far. We’ve learned new things about mechanics, electrics (more posts to come on this subject), weather, sailing, communication and cooking. And, as a result, our day-to-day lives have changed drastically from our New York life, which seems now like a distant past full of impatience, stress and take-out meals.

One of the many things that surprised me about sailing away was the change from eating all our meals separately and on the run, to home cooking and eating almost three meals a day together. Which has never happened in the eight years Ryan and I have lived together…until now.

Learning to be galley chefs has been a pleasurable challenge for both myself and Ryan, though I dare say Ryan is still the better cook. He’s mastered Thai curries and breakfast burritos, while I’ve largely spruced up Ramen noodles with the odd spring onion and Shitake mushroom and learned to make spaghetti Carbonara.

ramen turf to surf

Tasha’s “specialty” Ramen noodles

But after two months of sharing all our meals, we started noticing some changes to our bodies: Ryan was losing weight quickly and I was gaining weight slowly.

At first, I attributed this to my not getting off the boat enough to exercise coupled with Ryan’s lack of access to chocolate. But the other day, as we were cooking dinner, Ryan said, “You know, I’m all for equality in relationships, but if you’re gaining weight while I’m losing weight, have you considered that maybe we shouldn’t be splitting our meals in half?”

I stopped and thought it about it, while Ryan proceeded with his theory cautiously, adding, “Not that I’ve noticed you’ve gained any weight…it’s just that you’ve mentioned it.”

More cautious pausing.

“I’m just saying, I weigh about 100 pounds more than you. Maybe you shouldn’t be eating the same portions as me?”

I nodded. It was so simple and logical, and yet it hadn’t actually occurred to me. Of course! Your body weight, aside from genetic factors, is largely dependent on your incoming calories minus your output. And the 100 pounds Ryan has over me would mean that he requires a greater number of calories to maintain his weight than I would require to maintain mine.

So, it’s a new and ongoing experiment, but as of now, when we cook and eat meals together, we divide the portions so that Ryan gets about two-thirds and I get one-third of whatever we’re cooking. This makes total sense to me, though I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. And since I’ll eat whatever anyone puts in front of me, controlling the portions during the serving process is a good idea.

But, of course, we haven’t been counting the calories in the many cocktails we enthusiastically guzzle while watching sunsets in our cockpit, or at BBQs with other cruisers. And from my experience with knocking back half a dozen Starbucks a day in my previous life, I know that liquid calories add up.

In my mind, though, that’s just one more good reason to get off the boat and get running, biking or hiking. I clearly need to be more active, which has been difficult to achieve on our journey south so far, since we’ve been pushing so hard to get the boat ready for our crossing and to outrun the cold.

But I have a vision of the Bahamas: the land where varnish never peels, heads never clog, the bilge pump is always working, and while everything is working so supremely well, I spend my days running along white sand beaches, cooling off in crystalline waters and drinking sundowners while swinging in our hammock.

I realize this optimism may take up more than my one-third portion of daily sustenance. But it’s the thing that keeps me moving forward. I’m happy to just deal with the reality later.

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