The Low Carb Cruise Does Alaska!

The Explorer of the Seas

For the second year in a row, I was fortunate enough to attend (and speak on!) the Low Carb Cruise. This was the 10th annual event of its’ kind, and in order to properly celebrate, the organizers (Jimmy and Christine Moore, Debbie Hubbs, and Ailsa Marshall) changed up their usual Caribbean destination to something a tad different- Alaska, the last frontier! Leaving from and returning to Seattle, WA, the cruise ship, Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas, stopped in 3 ports: Juneau, AK, Skagway, AK, and Victoria, British Columbia.

Glacier view from the cruise ship!

Mendenhall glacier, Juneau AK

It suspected it all along, and I was right: Alaska is pure magic. It’s peaceful and majestic, yet wild and unpredictable. There’s a mysterious quality thanks to the misty cold fog and blue-green icy water.  Our LC group witnessed whales, bears, seals, and bald eagles, and of course, huskies (and husky PUPPIES! PUPPIEEEES!!), happily pulling their sleds. We saw not one, but TWO intimidatingly monumental glaciers that sparkled when hit with light. We rode trains into the mountains, kayaked, whale-watched, and zip-lined. It was an incredible adventure. The weather didn’t exactly cooperate during our time in Alaska, with some cold rain and high winds, but I expected this given that Alaska does whatever Alaska wants, which is just how she likes it! Saucy minx…

Skagway, AK

Photo credit Sharon Cherkoff

Victoria, British Columbia, on the other hand, was akin to spending time in the Mediterranean- warm and sunny, with crystal blue water, cute colorful houseboats, and friendly Canadian people (a pleasantly true stereotype!). I was fortunate enough to bike through the city and see the sights that way, but others used this time to shop, take historical tours, or meet for high tea, as the British influence here is still strong! I was quite chuffed, really, to spend a smashing afternoon in the beautiful city of Victoria. Quite a lucky bugger indeed!

Downtown Victoria, BC

Of course, the conference itself was an adventure as well! The number of attendees has generally increased over the past several years, but there was a BIG jump this year with approximately 350 in attendance. As this was my second year on the cruise, I had some catching up to do with old friends, which was a ton of fun! But with all of these fresh new faces, I couldn’t wait to meet some more people! And dinner was just the place to do it…

Dinners on a cruise ship are a great time to catch up with several members of your group about the happenings of the day. Usually there are 8-10 people per table, and you sit with the same group throughout the week. Some tight bonds are often formed with your dinner buddies and last year this was exactly what I experienced. This year, the first night that my significant other, Adam, and I walked into the dining room, I remember thinking, “I can’t wait to meet my table mates! It’s like the LC Cruise dinner lottery….who are we going to get?!?” We searched high and low for our table and then there it was….a table for 4….with two slightly confused people sitting at it. Adam and I sat down, introduced ourselves, and all 4 of us quickly realized that as a table full of semi-shy introverted people, this could make for a long, awkward week….<cricket>……<cricket>….

But GUESS WHAT? Our dinner mates, Chris and Tricia were AWESOME! After about 5 minutes, I realized they were hilarious and witty and science-minded and dog-lovers. I mean, c’mon. Adam and I won the LC dinner lottery after all, and I was so thankful to be able to get to know them. After this, I wasn’t so surprised to learn that this low-carb group of cruisers is an intelligent, kind, fun-loving group of people and I really enjoyed making new friends.

Adam and I with Chris and Tricia on formal night!

The conference sessions were as inspiring as ever. Though I’m steeped with nutrition science all day through work, I always learn something new at each conference, and the knowledge base here was astounding. I love to nerd out on the geeky, experimental science stuff (I’m looking at you, Dave Feldman and Dr. Lucia Aronica), but there were a couple of lifestyle talks that didn’t fall into that category that I especially enjoyed:

  • Hanna Boethius’ talk, Becoming an Empowered Patient, was important to hear both as a healthcare practitioner and a patient. She encourages those with health challenges to build and then manage a supportive healthcare team and always remember who’s in charge: YOU. I think it’s easy to blindly listen to anyone with a medical degree when it comes to your health, but ultimately, you know your body and your situation the best, and knowing that is empowering when it comes to improving your health.
  • Jimmy Moore’s talk, Insulin Resistance in the Real World: Shifting from Weight Loss to Health Gain, covered a message that I think we all need a reminder of, which is essentially to not judge a book by it’s cover. Weight isn’t the ultimate marker of health, and there are people that, though overweight, have normal lab work and cardiac tests and feel great. Their bodies, though resistant to weight loss, are otherwise healthy. As someone who works in family medicine and obesity medicine, this is, in fact, the case more often than you’d think. On the flip side, there are many on this planet that are lean and look “healthy”, but are, in reality, quite sick. The message is that we often don’t know what is going on with someone’s insides by looking at them, and we cannot continue to gauge health and wellness this way. It’s simply not that simple.

Dave Feldman, Hanna Boethius, and myself

Panel discussion

Jimmy Moore and I

And so, with that, another Low-Carb Cruise comes to an end. If you’ve been on the fence in the past about attending this conference, DO IT! Sign up now! You’ll eat delicious things, learn and be inspired by some of the best teachers in the nutrition world, travel to exotic and beautiful destinations, and make great friends. And if all of that doesn’t interest you, remember….there might be puppies.