The Training Corner

Mountain Grit: Training for the Long Haul

Q: The Holiday stretch … Over the past year, I have lost 25 pounds, and have kept it off since September. I quit eating the 5 C’s of chips, cookies-cakes, candy, colas [sodas], creams [dips, ice cream], and shifted towards a Mediterranean style of eating. I TRAIN 3X/week, addressing all the necessary buckets, as explained in your previous articles, AND I walk, XC ski, hike or bike DAILY depending on the season. My blood pressure, lipids, glucose, and resting heart rate have all improved to the very healthy ranges, and I am no longer on any MEDS. I FEEL great, and have more energy than I ever imagined. So why am I writing? The holiday stretch is here, and I am worried about a big slide backwards. Any advice for me? Dan, 48

A: Hi Dan! Relax! The holidays are meant to be enjoyed with your family and friends, the people that matter most in your life. And yes, food and drink are part of the festivities, but they are NOT the focus of the season. Holidays are a break from routines, not the norm. Eat and drink special treats. This does not mean that we stuff our faces and lay around like a slug. Keep these practical tips in mind:

1. Within reason, stick to your typical sleep cycle, give or take an hour. If you have traveled to a different time zone for more than a couple days, get outdoors as much as possible to adapt faster. The same goes for your return trip.

2. Stay the course on your training, even 1X/week can do the trick. Calisthenics can fill the fill here. If you DH ski, XC or skate ski, you’re in luck. Get OUTDOORS DAILY and play or work. If those activities are not in your wheelhouse, snowshoe, walk or run outdoors [in grippers if slick]. Then of course, there is always snow removal!! Bottom line, do something physical every day, and CUT the screen time to an absolute MINIMUM, especially during daylight hours.

3. Be sure to get PROTEIN at every meal, and still load the veggies. TWO meals per day may suffice during holiday season. Per usual, drink water throughout the day.

4. Treats are treats! If there is candy, cookies or sweets laying around, enjoy 1-2 small portions as dessert at meals, not all day long every time you walk by them. Sporadic treats over a 2-week period are not a problem; five treats/day over 10 days is a different story.

5. As for alcohol, keep it to 1-2 drinks over a couple hours. This keeps your willpower in check. A six-pack and a bag of chips-and-dip as an evening ritual? Not a good idea!

6. Guilt gets us nowhere when it comes to food, drink and exercise. Beating oneself up about eating a few treats is a waste of valuable mind-space. Also, being a fun-sucking drag preaching your new lifestyle is not always the best topic of conversation. If someone asks you about your wins, then share your story.

7. Until we kick COVID to the curb, our immune system thrives on fresh air, daily movement in all of its forms, REAL food, ample rest, and most important of all, a positive attitude towards life and the curve-balls it throws at us. Habits, patterns and practices that fortify our pillars of health and well-being definitely DO boost our resilience and hardiness for the long haul.

In closing, enjoy and be merry. Treats are treats, rare and savored in small portions. Do something physical every day, count your blessings and appreciate the people around you. Holidays are meant to be happy, and they can certainly be healthy for the spirit, mind and body.

Need some coaching? Contact Pat through See previous editions of Mountain Grit for more training tips from Pat.

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