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How Do We Survive the Holidays?

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Thursday, December 18, 2014
in Training

This is a fantastic time of year. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Holiday parties, kids back from college, extended vacation time for many, etc. This time of the year there seems to be a party or get together every week from mid-November until after New Years. Many of these parties include great food, countless desserts, and fine adult beverages. This is a great time to catch up with family and friends and look forward to the New Year.


So what is the problem?

The problem is if you are serious about your training this is a very difficult time of the year. For most of us this is the off-season, but we still need to keep up with some base training. The Holidays are geared towards excess in almost every category of our lives with the exception of exercise.  It is tough to keep up with any kind of a training program. After all,  we have every excuse in the book. It is the off-season, Holidays only come once a year, weather is cold and frightful, etc. It is very easy to miss workouts and grab a piece of pie. I am as guilty (or more guilty) than most. If you are guilty of any of the below you probably are already on the wrong road this Holiday season.

1)   How many of you had a piece of pie for breakfast any of the mornings following Thanksgiving?

2)   How many of you had more than one “Thanksgiving dinner” utilizing leftovers?

3)   Is a new part of your routine at work grabbing chocolates out of a dish on someone’s desk?

4)  Are you following the “if I don’t weigh myself I didn’t gain weight” philosophy?

5)  Is it impossible to buy a gift certificate at a restaurant without eating there as well?

6)  Have you missed more than one workout due to staying out too late?

7)  Have you missed more than one workout due to being “over served” at a party?

8)  Have you ordered a donut or muffin in addition to your coffee recently just because it’s the Holidays?

9)  Has a button on your pants mysteriously popped off recently?

10) Worse of all…Have you started to embrace your sedentary lifestyle?

If you are already on the wrong road it is not too late. Don’t write off the last few weeks of this year as a lost cause. Every week lost will take 2-3 weeks to get back. You need to start the long road back to fitness now. Force yourself to get back into a routine of running at least 3-4 days a week. You don’t have to run hard. The key is to get your body moving and start to stem the tide of your Holiday debauchery.


Speaking from experience after a few workouts the racing juices will start flowing again. You will probably be disgusted with your weight and your current fitness but that can all be corrected with time. The key is to start now and don’t make everything worse by waiting until after the New Year. If you are reading this and you know you are on the wrong road then get motivated! Make a decision now to run tomorrow…don’t wait! What could possibly be stopping you from running 30-45 minutes 3-4 times a week?

One word of caution…Start running but don’t step on a scale. Since you have lost fitness you may not be able to handle the shock…wait a few weeks and hopefully the number will improve.

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Win the War Against Holiday Weight Gain

Posted by David Hardy
David Hardy
VTR Expert
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, October 10, 2012
in Weight Loss


As many of us have completed our goal races for the year or are in the final stretch before that big event, we start to look towards the off-season. Now whether your goal race was a half-marathon, marathon, or an Ironman, chances are you went through months of hard training and sacrifices to make your goal a reality. At this point you probably feel mentally and physically drained and need some much deserved time off. Guess what? You are deserve it. This is a great time of the year to take some time off. The weather starts to get cold, plenty of holiday feasts and parties to enjoy, probably much needed vacation time from work..etc.

The big question is...Can we enjoy the off-season and re-charge our batteries without gaining weight? The answer is NO. Now you may have read a hundred articles about this subject and you may have got a candy coated answer about how you can avoid gaining weight. I am telling you it is impossible and you will gain weight. The real question is will you gain 5-10 lbs or will you go crazy and gain a ridiculous amount of weight.

If your big race is over and training for your event is done then guess what? You have started the war against weight gain. Make no are in a war. Denying it will not keep the pounds off. I look at the battleground as the day my final race ends in the fall until after the New Year. Usually this is 2-3 months of time. My goal is to enjoy every party, holiday feast, and family gathering and weigh no more than 10 pounds heavier than I was before my end of season event. Ten pounds is manageable. What you don't want is to step on the scale and see 20-25 pounds or more on January 2nd...then you are looking at a major struggle to begin next season.

10 simple ways to avoid gaining crazy amounts of weight during the Holidays

1) Slow down your training....but don't stop! The off-season is a time to scale back...not completely shut it down. If you were running 5-6 days a week cut it down to 3-4 days a week. I try to run at least 4 days a week and I run 4-6 miles every time. I don't care about pace and I don't care about distance. I have set a mental minimum of 4 miles. If I want to run more I do. If I don't, then I run the minimum of 4 miles. Simple.

2) Try something new...some people like playing hockey, hiking, hunting, skiing, etc. If you have a sport you couldn't fit into your life due to your training, now is the time to enjoy it. Keep in mind hiking one day on the weekend does not replace a week's worth of maintenance runs.

3) Everyone has holiday parties to attend. If you are the host, here is a simple tip. As people leave give them something to take home. Get rid of the leftover cakes, pies, candy, rolls, etc. Anything left behind will be eaten by question. Do not let people leave empty handed.

4) This goes against #3. If you are not the host, then do not accept anything to take home. Anything you take home usually does not last the car ride home or is eaten in the middle of the night. Politely refuse to take any food home with you. Instant savings to the waist line.

5) If asked to bring something to a party offer to bring a healthier dessert such as a fruit salad or some other low calorie dessert. Just about everyone is battling weight gain and although they won't ask you to bring something healthier they probably won't object if you offer.

6) If you know you are going to chow down at a big meal (such as Thanksgiving) then try to take it easy on the desserts. Maybe just a small piece of pie (just to be social). Limit the damage by choosing to overindulge on the meal or the dessert. Not both. The flip side is if you are at a work holiday party or another small gathering you could choose to eat a lite lunch and then have a big piece of pie. This is basic math folks...everything has calories and they all add up.

7) If you know you are having a huge meal, pie, snacks, etc. at a series of upcoming parties then limit the damage to just those days. It is nice to not have to think about calories or dieting and just be able to eat anything you want at Christmas Dinner. That is fine. Just don't turn every day into Christmas Dinner. Once the dinner is over, it is time to go back to normal eating habits. Don't allow any carryover into "normal" days after the parties are over.

8) Enjoy the parties and dinners but know when to say when. There is absolutely no excuse to have the second, third, or fourth piece of pie. It is OK to let yourself go a little bit, but don't commit dietary suicide. No one enjoys the third piece of pie anyway. Let's be honest. How do you feel later that night?

9) Don't forget that beverages also have calories. Try not to grab the big glass of eggnog with that piece of pie. Again it is all about the math and adding up the or the other...not both.

10) The Holiday season is the time that chocolates, candies, and baked goods start to show up at work. You must avoid workplace "grazing" at all costs. This is where you could really start to lose the war. You can overcome several parties spread out over a month or two but you will not win the war if you start eating 200-500 additional calories a day from candy jars at work. I know how it grab a piece of chocolate out of a dish at work and next thing you know you are having one every time you walk by. Then you are finding reasons to walk by the dish so you can have another one.....and then before you know it...


 The bottom line is the off-season is a time to relax and re-charge your batteries both mentally and physically. It is also an opportunity to enjoy the Holiday season and spend time with family and friends without strict dietary restrictions or workout plans. The reality is you will go back to training and when you do it will be a lot easier if you have only gained a few pounds. Good luck.


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