Most of us have a love/hate feeling about the holiday season-- but either way this time of year can be extremely stressful. As an athlete we often have fitness goals as well! How do we survive without alienating our family and friends or eating a skinny person?? Luckily registered dietitian Janet Carter gives us some guidelines for:
Surviving the Holidays Without Killing Your Race Times
Whether your A race is over or you have one on the horizon, it’s a good idea to limit your
holiday “splurge days” to no more than three or four through the course of the holidays. It can be easy
to let an entire 2 months become a big splurge, which would most certainly affect your waistline and
your race times in the future!
A few factors that can affect your performance at future training bouts or events that are important to
consider during this time of the year include:
Alcohol consumption—Try to stick to the amount you are accustomed to. If you indulge a bit
more during this time of year, try to keep it to a minimum. You may also want to consider
using low-calorie mixers or water for mixed drinks. It’s also a good idea to drink a glass of
water before and after any drink you may have—hydration is always key to feeling your best!
High-fat foods—Your body may not be used to the rich, high-fat foods that are often enjoyed
during the holidays. This could lead to upset stomach, heartburn, or other GI distress, so go
light on the gravy!
Desserts—Those holiday cookies and pies are hard to turn down! Not only can they affect your
waistline, but overdoing it could also make you feel sluggish during training or racing (even
days later). Try not to over-indulge, or you could attempt a slimmed-down recipe (often, these
options provide more nutritional value and can be just as tasty as the original—keep an open
Quantity—A little extra food on those few days of splurging may not affect you dramatically,
but if you really over-indulge (or if you indulge more often than the recommended 3-4 days of
the holiday season), you may notice the effects later.
If you struggle during this time of the year, it is helpful to write down your fitness/race goals and put
them somewhere that you can see them to remind yourself of what you want to accomplish. You also
can make plans to train with friends at strategic times (such as the morning after a party) to help
prevent you from over-indulging.
Happy Holidays and happy training!
Janet Carter, MS, RD, CPT, CLS—registered dietitian/sports nutritionist and seasoned triathlete
For questions or personalized plans, email: