When the taxi pulled up at Sydney harbour, I looked up at the ship from the ground. It was enormous, and this was to be our home for the next 10 days.
We hadn’t been on a proper holiday since moving to Australia in 2016, so I was very much looking forward to having a proper break, but I’d never been on a cruise before so was slightly worried. What if I didn’t like it and wanted to get off? What if I get sea sick? Where will I run? As I walked through the terminal building, these questions were running through my mind as I moved into a new context.
The ship had 10 Decks and we entered on Deck 3, walking through a very gaudy door that would have felt very at home in the Palace of Versailles. We took the stairs to floor 9, the famous buffet floor, which was crammed full of all kinds of food. Working in the food industry, I naturally now look to see what food is most popular. Pizza, burgers, chips and cake seemed to have the queues. There was a salad bar too, and not much of a queue, so I headed in that direction hoping to find some organic spinach and kale. When I got there, there was a single organic leaf to be seen, just iceberg lettuce, potato salad, pasta salad, rice salad and a pumpkin salad which was ok.
I started to get a bit grumpy as I was out of my familiar surroundings and didn’t have access to the food and drink that i usually consume. I didn’t quite know what to do. One option was to get off the ship and stock up with organic leaves. But then I remembered that any change is good and you need to be able to adapt to any event in order to survive. In that setting, I had a choice. I could either remain grumpy and bring everyone down, or I could look on the positive side and throw myself into this new situation which is exactly what i did. I decided to treat the whole thing as a retreat. Quite different from other retreats which usually involve yoga, meditation, organic juices and salads, but in truth, that is my everyday. This cruise life was completely new and alien to me and i needed to embrace it in order to grow. Here’s what happened…
I didn’t completely change all my habits. Some of my habits, like daily exercise, are so ingrained that I couldn’t not move my body for 10 days and so I hit the gym every morning. But I did change my diet. I remained plant-based of course, but had no choice but to swap my lovely organic salads and meals and juices for chips*, more chips, cake, ice cream and lemonade. Ok, the lemonade is a lie, I couldn’t bring myself to drink lemonade, but the rest is true.
If you have been on a cruise, you’ll know that it’s very easy to have pizza, chips, burgers and ice-cream 24/7! My son, Sam, was in kid heaven! Can you imagine being 12 years old and having access to 24/7 ice-cream? In fact, can you imagine being 42 and having access to 24/7 ice-cream? We all love ice-cream, no matter what age!
Given that I’ve been eating in a very clean way since 2006, transitioning from a mainstream diet to a Raw Vegan diet and then refining over time into eating a whole food, plant-based diet, it’s very easy to forget how I used to feel before I changed. So I saw these 10 days as a real opportunity to reconnect with my past and put my own RAW Energy philosophy to the test and see the impact of down-grading my food habits on my body and mind.
FED MY MIND WITH NEWS
As well as changing what i fed my body, I also changed what i fed my mind. Instead of feeding my mind with inspiring books which my usual information diet, I swapped this Habit for a daily dose of the news which I watched and listened to. The impact was significant. I felt thoroughly depressed and powerless to change the huge mess that the political world seems to have got into!
HOW TO HAVE MORE TIME
But the one thing that the cruise helped me to upgrade was my digital device habit. Wifi was so expensive on the ship, so I decided to leave my devices in my suitcase and have a real break from email, social media and all digital connection. A proper digital detox for 10 days.
For me, this was a very big deal as I haven’t had a digital detox since the Blackberry was first put into my hand in 2005!
At that point, I felt so liberated! I could access my emails from anywhere and didn’t have to go to the office to communicate. It was amazing. But like all good thing, it then became less amazing and before long it felt that this liberating tool was actually sucking my time and attention. I was checking my email first thing in the morning to catch up with my colleagues in Asia and the US and replying to emails to colleagues in the US before going to bed. The boundaries of my life had blurred and whilst i still thought that I was in control, in truth, the device was in control and it took me a long time to recognise that.
So with this context, not having access to communication channels for 10 days was very unsettling. There was so much going on in my personal and professional life that I was very worried that I’d miss something important and I wouldn’t be contactable.
But then things started to change. I began to relax and get used to a true feeling of true freedom that only comes when you decide where to put your attention. I noticed that time got a little slower and I had more time which I put into reading novels and just chilling out whilst watching the waves on the ocean.
The whole experience reminded me of how holidays used to be ‘before the smartphone’. I am old enough to remember those times very well as you’d go away and literally have no contact with the outside world, apart from a postcard! Coming back was always a challenge as you’d have a nightmare time trying to catch-up, but after a day or so, you were back into the swing of things.
SO WHAT WAS THE IMPACT?
We had an amazing time. We got to sail around the South Pacific, see islands that Robinson Crusoe would relate to well. I got to try new things like playing bingo and learning to dance, and I got to eat junk food every day and see the impact on my body.
When the ship arrived in Sydney, I was certainly glad to get off and resume my normal lifestyle. That first glass of organic green juice tasted so good! I should have had blood tests before and after, but I didn’t, but I did weigh myself and my weight had increased by 7lbs. But the biggest impact I noticed was on my energy. Usually, I’m up by 5am and ready for the day. On the cruise, I struggled to get out bed by 7am and just felt so tired most of the day. Since coming back, and resuming my normal lifestyle, my energy and returned to normal and I remain focused on spreading wellness through the power of food as this is a simple upgrade that we can all do to enhance our energy.
The great habit upgrade for me, though, was the digital detox.
I’ve come away though with new digital device habits and boundaries. A smartphone is a tool and if we allow it to, it will take our attention and energy away from being in the present and enjoying the people and moments that are right in front of us. It will also eat up so much time – time after all is your most precious asset – once lost, you will never be able to get it back.
If you’re a bit too attached to your smart phone and would like to break free, a great book to read is: ‘How to break up with your phone’ by Catherine Price.
Shining a light on over use of digital devices will enable us to take steps to change our habits and also help our children develop healthy habits and boundaries.
WORK WITH ME
Upgrading your health and reducing your risk of becoming a ‘chronic condition stat’
It is important to try to upgrade your habits, starting with the food you eat, as this is the very foundation of wellness. Food makes up all of the cells in your body and it is widely recognised now that most disease starts in the gut. Fortunately you have complete control over what you put into your mouth, so it is empowering to think that you can avoid most of the ‘lifestyle’ diseases by just a few healthy choices each day.
As a wellness and business coach, I help people upgrade their habits and supercharge their energy in the process, which leads to a massive ripple effect.
You can find out more about my RAW philosophy here
*NOTE: Eating piles of chips, cake, and ice-cream on tap every day is not something I would recommend at all, but having it occasionally (i.e. once a year) is fine as it’s what you do consistently that makes the difference to how you look, feel and think, not what you do once in a blue moon