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Preserving Your Weight Through the Holidays

As you prepare for this coming triathlon season, many of you have made a goal to lose a certain amount of weight. Whilst in the midst of losing the unwanted weight, WHAM, the holidays come bullying their way into your training. The typical American gains between 4 to 6 pounds from Thanksgiving to New Years. If you do expand your girth during the holidays, you will regret having those fried hush puppies or your Aunt’s scrumptious cookies during the next triathlon’s hilly bike climb or run segment.

As you attend holiday parties, you still have the opportunity to indulge on some of the foods presented to you and not come across as a tri geek to your non-athletic friends and relatives by announcing a self-inflicted “fast” during the holidays. When going to parties, try to enjoy a variety of foods, but have small portions of what is offered. Take smaller bites of each food instead of one big bite. This will keep you from feeling deprived, but also control your caloric and fat intake. As you browse the spread or create your meals, here are a few ideas to help you enjoy the holiday festivities and not feel guilty taking a bite.

As you arrive:

Request a Bloody Mary. It contains a free radical fighting antioxidant called lycophene which aids in clearing your arteries. The tomato juice provides you with half of your daily allowance of Vitamin C.

The gossip food:

Once you have your beverage, you most likely will progress to appetizers and have “social hour.” This is where many people consume the most calories. You come hungry and the appetizer session can last for a long time. Hence, you will find yourself munching as you talk. When socializing, focus on activities other than eating and pace yourself with what you eat. Initially, don’t fill your entire plate with food. Instead, fill up a quarter of the plate and leave the serving dish. Say to yourself that when your plate is done, you can get more. In many instances, when the plate is gleaned, you may be far enough away from the food tray and engrossed in such profound conversation with your mother-in-law that you don’t want to take the time to go fill your plate. Target these foods while gossiping.

Skip the potato chips and go for carrots and spinach dip. Carrots and spinach are filled with antioxidants named carotenoids. Also, skip the breaded, deep fried cheese sticks and delve your toothpick into stuffed mushroom caps. Although mushrooms are not one of my favorites, they are mostly made of water and air. Mushrooms are low in calories, but big on flavor.

Go for the seafood. Shellfish, such as shrimp and crab legs, are high in omega 3 fatty acids, which increases your metabolic rate, makes you a more efficient fat burner and produces testosterone which enhances muscle building. In addition, shellfish are low in calories. To top off this delectable appetizer, use a spicy red sauce instead of butter. In addition to the above benefits of shellfish, these fruits of the sea also contain vitamin B12 which helps fend off fatigue; zinc, which aids your immune system; and iodine, which helps synthesize protein and carbs.

Finally, sitting down:

If you aren’t stuffed with the appetizers, there are some holiday main courses you can consume and still feel like you can swim on top of the water instead of under the water the next day.

Turkey is always an excellent selection for a main course, but don’t discount ham. The nutritional value of ham has improved in quality as the fat content has decreased. Calorically, a three ounce slice of ham is only 100-150 calories.

To cap off your meal:

It would be tough for me to tell you to shun eating plum pudding with custard during the holidays. Hopefully, you will savor just a few bites of the plum pudding and then go to a fresh fruit salad to satisfy your sweet tooth. Remember, your taste buds, which send the grateful synapses to your brain, will soon forget the satisfying taste of what you ate. If you can limit your amount of dessert intake, you will be happier come the next training session. The key is to control yourself from over eating during the process which your stomach signals to your brain that you are happily satiated.

With foresight:

During the holidays, keep your triathlon goals firmly engrained in your mind. It is easy to lose sight of your ultimate vision and why you began your fitness or nutrition program. Spend time prior to the beginning of the holiday season reinforcing how your triathlon racing will be better when you are at your goal race weight.

Avoid the all or nothing mentality. No one is perfect. There might be a time or two when you go overboard by not only eating unhealthy foods, but also way too much. Don’t let this lead to an “I already blew it” binge that lasts until January 1st. One or two days is not going to make or break your weight loss efforts. The key is to get right back on track the next day.

During the holidays, stick to your training program as much as possible. Time permitting, increase the duration of your low intensity efforts to help burn fat. When you know there will be social eating, you can eat less on the days before and after the event. Don't arrive to every social event famished. Have lighter meals the morning of the big feasts to balance your overall caloric intake. Pay attention to how full you are and eat until you are satiated, not stuffed.

Enjoy the holidays with socializing and eating. Eating the right foods and listening to your body when it senses it is full will allow you to stay in mid-season form and mentally feel light when the holiday season retires for yet another year.

© Wes Hobson Performance Inc.