Life at Sea: Nutritional Advice from a Professional Figure Skater


I am SO excited to be sharing today’s blog. This cold weather has me itching to jump on a plane and take over the nearest beach. But, right before purchasing a ticket, I started thinking how difficult it would be for me to travel just 3 weeks out from my competition and the overall nutritional challenges that come along with travel.

How many times have we wanted to go on vacation but dread getting into a bikini? Or, how many times do we actually go on a trip and spend weeks trying to work off our vacation splurges? That’s when I thought of my sister, Madeline. Not only is she a professional figure skater, but her job is one that many would envy – skating on a cruise ship and performing nightly shows! I asked Madeline to give us some insight into how she maintains a healthy/active lifestyle while away from home and how you can, too. 

Sitting in this quaint little coffee shop, I find it hard to believe how much my life has changed in one year. In March of 2013, I was suiting up for my second ACL surgery in Chicago, IL, having been out of my ice skates for about six months, and itching, itching, itching to be on the ice again. Now, in March of 2014, I casually enjoy the meaningful words of “what a wonderful world” chime throughout this Puerto Rican coffee shop in Old San Juan, sipping on my Bad Ass Coffee (seriously, that is the name), and letting out a content sigh as I think about how my year off not only reinforced my love for figure skating, but utterly transformed my lifestyle of health.

I had a lot of time on my hands during my injury. I mean a lot of time. Can you imagine not working, studying, or being able to walk without a huge black plastic thing on your leg? That bothersome itch to be back on the ice turned more into a desperate scramble to find SOMETHING to take up my time. I quickly decided for myself that if I couldn’t be active physically, I was going to take care of my body as much as I could from the inside out, so I could heal as fast as possible and return to the ice. ImageThat was my introduction into the serious world of health, which eventually became a part of my everyday lifestyle. And after the second procedure, I felt great, my body healed, and one year later, I am sailing on the beautiful cruise ship called, The Independence of the Seas, as a professional figure skater.

Initially, I was nervous about maintaining my health coming back to work. Walking through the buffets on the ship is like a mouthwatering trek through a jungle of sugar and tummy aches, and the last thing I wanted was to lose what I had gained in the past year (well, I guess you would say “gain what I lost.”)

 So I came up with three key principals that help me, and I’m sure will help all of you, stay on track with your nutrition not only in every day life, but while on vacation as well. Us skaters are always in the vacation environment, where it’s easy to let yourself go (I have seen it happen to multiple crewmembers), and these simple tips can help prevent it.

1. Have a plan – Nowadays, when food is available basically 24 hours a day, (especially on a cruise ship-you know the average cruiser gains 7 pounds in one cruise?) it’s easy to idly eat whenever and whatever you want. Turn the carelessness into awareness. Track what’s really going into your system. I think many would be surprised as to what they actually put into their bodies every day, especially when on vacation. Make a conscious choice that fits your own personal goals before taking that week in the sun. It’s easy to lose track of the thousands of temptations, like alcohol, desserts, or greasy foods that are presented to you on a golden platter. So suit up in your armor, come prepared, and have the discipline to follow through with your plan.

2. Practice portion control – Possibly one of the most important things that I always keep in mind. Almost everything is self serve on a cruise. Use this to your advantage! Take only what you need. If you want to indulge in something, indulge sensibly. This is all under your own control.

And Lastly…

3. Keep everything in moderation – You’re on vacation, A couple beers won’t kill you, but twenty might put you face down. The point of being on vacation is to enjoy yourself, but the combination of binging on alcohol, desserts, and the plethora of food is what puts you under. Think of everything as a balance. You cheat in one area, so maybe take it easy on the next. So you like the Corona Extras with the little lime? Have some! But maybe go easy on the dessert. You like the gooey mud pie that melts in your mouth? Split it with a friend, and pass on the Pina Colada later. Life is a balance, keep that balance, even when you’re on vacation.


That being said, traveling and vacationing is all about being happy. Always remember to enjoy yourself! Health shouldn’t make you miserable; I know it did the opposite for me. So on your vacation this year, when you’re sipping on your daiquiri and soaking up the blazing sun, keep in mind to take everything in moderation, even moderation itself. 

– Madeline Stammen 

1 comment
  • Jacqueline Harmon

    What a great post! It’s great to read something that seems like commen sense laid out to really hit home! Thanks Madeline and Heather this is super helpful!ReplyCancel