**WARNING. salty language ahead. Maybe I will address that some day.
**minor edits to remove the errors that were annoying me the most.
SO! Low Carb Cruise 2012.
I planned my attendance at this event from the first available moment during May 2011. My first international trip and my first “paleo” event. When I first booked in, Robb Wolf and Gary Taubes were scheduled to speak and for their own very good reasons, they needed to cancel.
Whilst my biggest drawcards were no longer there, I was looking forward to the cruise anyway. The other planned speakers looked good, and I knew I would meet some excellent people and translate some twitter friendships into real world friendships. Good enough for me.
As it turned out, this holiday came along exactly when I needed it, so regardless – I was keen as mustard to get on a ship and escape reality for a week.
I’m going to split this post into two parts, to go along with my split personality.
The Cruise for Jude – newly single girl
For the newly single girl, this cruise was fantastic. I flounced, strutted, flirted, squealed, danced and drank my little heart out (well, I drank for the first 3 days. After that I couldn’t go near another drop!). I was open to all possibilities and happily that really paid off for me. I stopped taking myself so seriously and just went with it. I really needed to do that.
Not much more needs to be said on that.
The Cruise for Jude – @smartsexypaleo
Thing is, newly single girls aren’t really concerned with their health, like they should be. For @smartsexypaleo, this cruise was dreadful.
There, I said it.
Anyone who has been here for any length of time knows a few things about me.
- I firmly believe that the focus on lifestyle factors and food quality, rather than just the old calories in/calories out model (which includes the whole total carb load thing too) is one the greatest things about this Ancestral Health gig.
- I love a Whole30 and fully credit that framework and guidance from the Whole9 team for curing my diet crazy (and fuck knows I was a crazy, nuerotic mess when I started this).
- I have a wicked inner sugar whore, and I go to great lengths to keep that bitch out of polite society.
- I take this shit really seriously, because I have never felt better in my life.
So for someone like me, this cruise was not ideal. Here’s the thing though. The cruise was full of people like me. I can sense a fellow (faux) sugar and carb addict a mile off. I know what it is like to rely heavily on diet products, bars, splenda etc as part of a restrictive diet – I mean, it’s legal right? No calories, low carb, why not enjoy it all the time?
Also, for the most part, the food quality was pretty ordinary. I could taste the weird oils that had been used in cooking, nothing tasted quite right. I got increasingly more lethargic and unwell as the cruise progressed. Exactly how I used to feel before I focused on food quality. I had digestive issues, mood swings and cravings. Very unsexy.
For someone who goes to effort to prepare good quality, nutrient dense meals – giving up complete control of that aspect of your life for 7 days is hard. Especially when the kitchen is cooking for 4000 people – all they care about is that it is cost effective, tasty and visually appealing. A bit like the foods we paleo types avoid, huh? (Side note: dinners were usually an exception – I had some pretty good meals at dinner. But don’t even talk to me about breakfast and lunch.)
I also believe that holding a conference for people who clearly have issues with food on a cruise ship where their drug of choice is freely available 24 hours a day is bordering on reckless. I know. Harsh, huh? I know that I succumbed a few times to foods I would never normally go near. It was right fucking there ALL the time and when you’re already feeling crappy, feeling slightly more crap is no big deal. You better believe that I was not the only one either. Yeah it was a “vacation”, but when you have issues with food, you are playing russian roulette with cheats.
There were lots of low-carb options available for the group – but you already know how I feel about Sex With Your Pants On. I’m sure that many of the group were absolutely ok with that, but I know that for some, diet icecream was no substitute for the real thing, which you could get 24 hours a day. Trust me.
There is no judgement here. I am one of them. And I know that every person on that cruise was interested in improving their health – more bloody power to them, I say. But you wouldn’t hold an AA meeting in a bar and serve Claytons and expect everyone to stay on the wagon, would you?
I don’t see why this should be any different.
There were many positives about the cruise. Please don’t think for a second that it was a bad experience overall. I believe that the organising committee have nothing but the best intentions and are doing a great job of getting the message out. They organised some great speakers, put together a solid program and kept everything running smoothly. I hope that the cruise continues to grow in popularity and get more people off of the refined carbs and sugars.
But for me – it is not something I would be in a hurry to repeat. I need to do a lot of work now to repair the damage done over 7 days and I hate the idea of going backward.
For next year, I think an honest discussion about the importance food quality and the truth about artificial sweetners would be beneficial, but that is just my bias. I also think it is a risky move to have speakers with “products” to sell or other commercial agendas. This does not include books, though. The more information out there, the better. But inviting people with an obvious commercial agenda just turns this into another arm of the “diet industry” and that makes me angry.
As a plain paleo person, as opposed to a paleo personality, I can say whatever I want here – because I have no reputation to manage and no influence. That allows me to be totally honest.
A year ago, this cruise would have been perfectly suited to my level of knowledge and personal experience. I wouldn’t have noticed any issues with the food quality and would have learnt an absolute butt-load from the conference. But for where I am now, I think AHS is a better investment of my (significant) travel time and resources.
Would I recommend the Low Carb Cruise to others? Yes, but #contextmatters.
If you know you have issues with certain foods – just be aware that they will likely be freely available in vast quantities. That could be tough, even if you are repulsed by it all intellectually.
If you want an easy (and family-friendly) holiday with a bit of nutrition talk chucked in and lots of like minded souls – this is absolutely the event for you. You will have a blast.
So – there ya have it. No @smartsexypaleo on the cruise next year. No great loss, I am sure