November comes along, we get done with our training and racing season feeling a bit deflated and out of sorts. But we look forward to the Holidays and the fine wines, foods and of course, desserts. We might not look forward to the weight gain that comes along with it, but we need to find balance so we don’t drive ourselves crazy or our family and friends with strange eating behaviors.
The off season is a time to recharge the batteries. Yes, the racing season can be long and tiring both mentally and physically. I remember Paula Newby-Frasier had mentioned years ago that you have to get out of shape to get back into shape. Hence the off season. But does that really mean you sit around doing nothing and just eat bon bons, drink beer and socialize over glutonizing portions of food? If we choose that approach, we might become fat and happy. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but you may want to go into the off season and holidays finding balance rather than over-indulgence. Excess then becomes a 4-letter word? And you might not look so great (or feel it) sporting an extra 10-20 pounds on your frame come January.
Not everyone can keep their self control with food during the holidays. And I personally don’t think we need to. I know as I have gotten older, Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve dinners are no longer the smorgasbord they once were. No longer do I feel like a stuffed turkey myself who needs to then go run 2 hours to work off the meal. (besides, I don’t have time now for that run!) I now allow myself to have the treats, I allow myself to have stuffing and all the pies. I just eat much less of them now. I eat smaller meals throughout the day focusing on protein and green vegetables to keep my blood sugar balanced. This keeps me from ‘saving up’ for the meal and wanting to inhale the whole dinner spread of food because I am starving. I find balance by trying smaller portions of everything….and I do mean everything! But instead of a 1/2 cup of stuffing and 1/2 cup of potatoes, I now choose a heaping tablespoon or two of each. Then I can also try the roasted chestnut stuffing! And I have more room for dessert!
Last year, the Thanksgiving spread included 6 different desserts. One of them I had made into smaller one serving tartlets (I made a raw pumpkin cheesecake that was truly yummy! I just added ground flax seeds for texture), but split that portion. I cut a half a portion and others were almost fighting for the other half! I tried 3 other desserts, too! But cut myself a sliver of each of them rather than taking a whole piece. This is how I can find balance in my meals and still enjoy every aspect of it. I also don’t feel guilty about eating dessert, or eating too much, yet I was able to eat everything on the menu!
I remember doing the same thing while out to dinner with my Mother years ago. I suggested we split the entree and order and extra side of the vegetable. She kinda looked at me funny, but agreed to do it. She thanked me later for doing that as she didn’t feel compelled to eat the whole entree (which was huge – for 3 people not 1). You can do this any time you go out to eat – for holidays or every day! It is about finding balance with your meals and your life. And accept it either way even if it is now what you deem perfect. But which part of life IS perfect??
The last part to balance is the exercise, sleep, food, etc. The schedule filled with parties, office parties, holiday parties and cocktail events can throw your whole schedule off kilter, let alone the eating patterns. Finding the balance is more challenging but attainable. You know you can put in a workout for 30-45 minutes instead of what you wanted – 2 hours. So you do that (better than nothing!) to keep your mind in balance. And find time to pack your meals so if you have to go from office to function, again, you won’t be starving going to the party ready to eat everything in sight.
Find the time during the holidays to be thankful for the things you have – your health, your family and your friends. And by all means, celebrate! But try to find that balance between making your pies, and eating them, too! Finding balance is all about moderation, not deprivation.
Joanna Chodorowska, BA, NC, TPTH is a sports nutrition coach working with athletes and non-athletes to help them find balance between eating real food and their busy schedules. Real food produces real results both at the office and on the playing field. For more information about nutrition coaching programs, please visit Nutrition in Motion or send Joanna and email with your questions!