I have talked about the Low Carb cruise in the past, and last week (May 6th-13th) the date finally arrived. This was the first cruise for either Laura or I, and we had to drive 16-hours and 1000-miles to get to the departure port of Galveston, TX. We were a little apprehensive about our minivan actually being ready after being in the shop for the week. We decided to break the trip to Texas into 2 days since we didn’t want to push our luck, but all travel fears were unsubstantiated. (Leaving a day early also enabled us to meet and eat with a pair of really cool Texans too.
We had three days at sea and 3 days of excursions not counting the initial day and disembarking days. The Sea Days were the ones featured talks by low carb luminaries and notable scientists. Not everyone was necessarily low carb, like Chris Masterjohn, but all of the talks were interesting to the audience. Some were seemingly repeats or updates of previous talks heard elsewhere, but the speakers were definitely worth listening too in either case. To be able to meet and even solicit advice from people like Duke’s Eric Westman, Jackie Eberstein, Valerie Berkowitz, and UConn’s Jeff Volek (people so intimately tied to Atkins Diet — new and old) was simply amazing. I have read their studies and used their research in my videos. I have to admit I was a bit in awe of them initially.
I actually got to meet some of my long time low carb friends — people who I have read and talked with for years, but never met in person. Meeting Jimmy Moore is like meeting another “brother.” He started the diet at a similar time as I did, lost essentially the same amount of weight as I did, and faced many of the same challenges as I did. The guy is just as genuine and friendly in person as he appears online. I never once saw him shut down or seeking “Jimmy time” even though I thought he readily had an excuse. He was constantly on the go and including others in the conversation and making sure they were included — often to the detriment of eating his own dinner warm. Amy Dungan is another person I have read for years and looked forward to meeting. I was blessed to be seated at her and her family’s table and got the opportunity to talk with her quite a bit. I can’t say enough positive things about Amy and her husband John.
Some of my new favorite authors to add to the old ones:
- DR. WILLIAM DAVIS – was not a wheat belly convert before the cruise, but I am afterwords
- CHRIS MASTERJOHN – a lipidologist and extremely bright, and certainly proof one does not need to low carb to see the benefits of animal fats
- DR. JOHN BRIFFA – much more funny in person, and simply brilliant talk. If I had to send a person to one guy to be convinced about the validity of low carbing (and Dr. Eric Westman wasn’t around — sorry), John would be that guy.
- DENISE MINGER – I had read and listened to her before, but was struck with how young, funny, and extremely intelligent she is.
- CAITLIN WEEKS aka “Grass Fed Girl”
- PALEO PARENTS – Eat Like a Dinosaur
- VANESSA ROMERO
- MINDY NOXON IANNOTTI
There are countless others I could add like Sally from Washington, Laurie “Avalanche” Rosen, Melissa and Jess from British Columbia, JoAnn from Georgia, Lisa from Texas, and the list could literally could go on and on. I feel bad listing a few, and I am honored to have met and chatted with everyone last week. All their stories were incredibly powerful, and if you were low in inspiration before, you had loads by the end of the cruise. I only wish it could have been for longer. The good news is there is always next year and continuing the conversation online on the low carb cruise FaceBook site.
- Putting on a low carb cruise is no small undertaking, and people like Becky Gandy, Debbie Hubbs, Kim Eidson, et. al did a tremendous job. Combine the normal travel agent tasks with the putting on a conference tasks and then add on top of that big personalities or particular eating patterns on a regular cruise ship, I would imagine the problems or requests go on and on. This being a few people’s first cruise (like me) I am sure the questions were immense before we actually sailed. I tried to thank each of them personally, but if I missed someone, you have my appreciation for a highly successful cruise (both in terms of speakers, friendships built, and good times had).
- The cruise itself was enjoyable. I was able to run and continue my workout program while on board. I accumulated 29 miles while on board running and lifted 2 or 3 days as well. The running track around the top deck might not have been the most scenic while at sea, but it did still beat the state of the art cardio machines on the Magic. Running as we went into port was fun as the ports got closer and the land more defined masses.
- The food on the cruise was probably a 7 out of 10. It was definitely a step up from the standard restaurants or buffet places, but there was still eating in a buffet for 2 our of 3 meals per day. Many of the meals had to supplemented or edited to meat a low carb diet. I have posted many of the food photos on my Atkins Diet Videos facebook, so if you are curious, you can see some of them there. They and the food in port will however serve as inspiration for many of the upcoming recipe videos. The Prime Steakhouse on the Magic was however fantastic, and definitely was among some of the best steaks and meals I have had while eating out.
- I did have some disagreement with some of the speakers — particularly Fred Hahn and Dr. John Briffa — regarding the desirability of running or cardio- as exercise. Both seemed to advocate only strength training and walking if that. Fred however did mark Zumba as the only exercise better than strength training, but that seemed a cop out as there was a Zuffa instructor in the room. As someone who tried everything to beat a 30-pound weight gain and for whom running was the only answer, it seemed overly negative. I am not saying one has to run to be successful, but to discount an entire form of exercise seemed extreme. As someone who as a firefighter sometimes has to work strenuously for hours straight, lifting 1 or 2 days a week for 15 minutes would seemingly not be adequate. I would love to find a study that could prove me wrong, but none were proffered.
- The Swedish LCHF movement was good to see, and I was interested to hear their stories and perspective. They were somewhat discounting Atkins and in favor of real food, grass fed beef, and remaining extremely low carb forever. I found it interesting, but still consider Atkins to be the gold standard for how to be successful.
- On the topic of safe starches, I thought Dr. Atkins had it right back in the day. Establish what your CCLL and eventually your ACE is, find out what foods don’t cause regain or triggers, and simply eat within that for the rest of your life. If that includes sweet potatoes or even the rare real potato, go for it. My perspective is that most starches *could* be safe in some amount, but it is up to the individual to find out how much and how often works for them. Many of the low carb researchers answers almost seemed to discount the need for any carbs, and questioned why would ever want to eat a sweet potato. I think in that they might go too far.
- Really interested to read Jeff Volek’s new book about low carbohydrate and performance (athletes). It might lead me to testing my blood ketones (more effective than ketone urinalysis) to see if I can improve my performance running.
- Finally book sales of Low Carbing Among Friends Volume 1 went really well, and I had a number of really cool people who told me how much they appreciated it and its low carb AND gluten free recipes. I was happy to talk about it and even got some ideas for future recipes from the LCHF Swedes.
For more photos, click here.