November 14, 2012

Holiday Survival Tips for Athletes


If you’re like me, you look ahead to holiday eating with glee along with a healthy dose of dread, too.  Yes, we love those sugar and dough-laden treats from our wonder years.  Problem is, although we’ve been carefully watching the scales and keeping our weight in check all season, those temptations (and the people who push them) are hard to resist.  It’s nearly impossible to say no… but who wants to deal with losing weight yet again come Jan 2nd?

I’ve developed some tactics that have worked for my clients over the years which I think you’ll like too.  Next time you’re confronted with a tough choice, pull one these tricks out of your hat… and delight in your resolve.  After all, you are an athlete – discipline is your middle name!

  1.  Fatten Up and Pig Out.  You heard me right.  Snack on a handful of healthy nuts, some smashed avocado rolled up in deli meat, or munch a bowl of berries drizzled with coconut milk and chia seeds about ½ hour before heading out to a dinner party.  Fat and protein help you feel full so that by mealtime, you can keep your appetite in check; both of these macronutrients beat carbs when it comes to satiety.  It’s hard to think clearly when you’re starving and if you aren’t positive that you’ll be offered healthy options where you’re going, go prepared.

  3. Holiday Cheer.  Yes, red wine has powerful antioxidant capabilities.   But more than 1 glass of alcohol for women and 2 for men have detrimental health effects, and let’s not forget about the added calories and sugar load.  Make sure you eat food WHILE you drink so that your blood sugar isn’t whacked.  And if you insist on more than a glass or two, have a glass of water in between each cocktail in order to stay hydrated, sober and, hopefully, too full to drink more than you should.

  5. Pick Your Shots.  You WILL be tempted to consume fun stuff that, in volume, will short-circuit weight management.  And I’m not a complete killjoy here – a treat or two won’t kill you… the operative word here is “volume.”  So, scan the feast and pick the thing, and ONLY one, that you are going to splurge on.  Is it that creamy, cheese-stuffed pasta dish?  The gooey, brownie cake blanketed in caramel and ice cream?  Once you make your choice, have just a few bites of it… and push it aside.  You may discover that just a little bit is all you need and you can enjoy it pretty much guilt-free.

  7. Emergency Preparedness Kit.  There are times when you may find yourself stuck for hours at holiday parties facing foods that are downright scary (fruitcake comes to mind).  Instead of eating out of “politeness,” excuse yourself to the bathroom and pull out your emergency stash of snacks hidden in your purse or pockets – raw nuts, food bars, dark chocolate, and stuff like that.  Perhaps this sounds extreme.  But when you have dairy and gluten issues like me, you learn to be creative and take matters into your own hands.  And after all, parties are about enjoying the people, too.

  9. Keep MOVING.  Unless you are injured or in major recovery mode, stay active.  You may be bored with your usual training routine and I get that.  So dust off the skis, snow shoes, and sleds.  Or if you live in a warmer climate, drag out your hiking shoes and Frisbee.  Replace eating and drinking activities with physical ones for reconnecting with your friends and family over the holidays.  The 2013 race season is right around the corner – stay fit while taking some time to play with your pals before training heats up again.


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