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Thanks so much to all Meridian Readers for following our 17 part series on the Joys of “The Autumn of Life.” We have loved your comments and the fact that you are able to share with us the anticipation of how marvelous Life in Full can be in our 50s, 60s, and 70s.

A random drawing was held of the names of all readers who commented following the last article. The winners, listed here by screen name, are: 1. Chris, 2. Sheri McMurtrey, 3. genie lalonde, 4. Katherine J. Ames, 5. Catherine Kirkland, and Pam I. If you six will simply send your street address to your free books will be sent out promptly.

Now, to the start of a new series. 

The “Cruise Ship Diet.

”Talk about an oxymoron! Has anyone ever lost weight on a cruise ship?

Actually yes, someone has! We’ll tell you who later in this article.

Surveys show that the average person on a two-week cruise gains 14 pounds!* It is the perfect environment for weight gain. Food everywhere, huge dining rooms and buffet lines, long hours at sea with nothing to do but eat, limited time and opportunity for exercise. There couldn’t be a worse place to diet, right?

And having paid a lot for the cruise, people feel they need to eat a lot to get their money’s worth.

But when you think about it, our normal everyday life has become a lot like a cruise ship. Food is so plentiful and available and cheap and fast. We are surrounded by food whether we are in our homes or driving down the street. It takes time to exercise—but not to eat! We can grab food fast, almost anywhere. Since time is scarce, we eat faster, but we don’t eat less.

The key is “portion control”. Our basic premise there, and of Richard’s new book The Half Diet Diet is that it is not so much about what we eat as it is about how much of it we eat; and the metaphor is that we need to bridle our appetites much as we bridle a horse to make it serve us rather than run away with us.

Now, getting to the point about the cruise: By coincidence, we were scheduled to speak on a cruise in the South Pacific in early January, just at the same time that the new diet book was being published. Someone suggested that if we really wanted to test the viability of the diet and the “four habits” that it suggests, we should try to implement them on the cruise. “Give it the acid test,” our friend said, “if it works on a cruise, it will work anywhere.”

So we did. For the 13 days we were on that floating food court, we practiced:

  • the water habit (drinking a glass of water before each meal or snack);
  • the slow habit (small bites, and setting the fork down and smelling, sipping, savoring and swallowing each bite before picking up the fork again for the next bite);
  • the exercise habit (20 minutes of aerobic exercise every day—these cruise ships do have pretty good gyms);
  • the ultimate half habit of splitting everything we were served into two halves and then only eating one of them.

Maybe the reason we were able to do it with consistency was that we had told the group we were traveling with what we were doing, and they came around to our table at every meal like clockwork to check on us and see whether we were actually eating only half of the food on our plates.

And guess what, it worked! Instead of putting on 13 or 14 pounds we each lost a few pounds. And the only thing we gained was an increased confidence that we can keep on doing it. We actually said to ourselves, many times, “if we can do this on a cruise ship, we can do it everywhere.”

The only thing we lack, now that we are off of the boat, is all those folks checking on us and keeping us monitored and motivated.

So perhaps we can re-commit ourselves by telling you, our Meridian readers, right here in this column, that we are going to stick with this eat-half diet. And in the days and weeks ahead, either in reality or in our imagination, you might be watching us in a restaurant or a food court—checking to see if we practicing what we preach. And knowing that, or even imagining it, might motivate us to keep working at it and to keep feeling as great as we always do when we just eat half.

Join us! If you do it right you will actually enjoy the half you do eat more than you used to enjoy the whole thing. Watch this column for additional help in implementing the Half Diet Diet aka The Cruise Ship Diet.