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Make the Most of the ‘Off-season’

22 Comments

off season nutrition

The last ‘big’ races/events are over for the season – triathlons, cycling, marathons, the Games – all done for another year.  It’s officially the ‘off-season’; the time for our bodies to rest, recover, and start preparing for the next go.  While the ‘off-season’ is commonly associated with athletes, it truly applies to all of us.  During the summer months we tend to be more active, eat differently, and in general are much more conscious of how we look, feel, and perform.  When the fall and winter months roll in we tend to ‘hibernate’.  It’s darker, colder, our clothes are baggier, the holiday eating season rears its head, and exercise takes a back seat.  Yep, it’s the ‘offseason’ for pretty much everyone – and while it does give our bodies a break it also sets us up for a massive spring ‘dig-out’ to recover from the time off and overly indulgent eating.  So hardcore athletes, average Joe’s, and paleo newbies listen-up.  The ‘offseason’ doesn’t have to set you up for extra work later; in fact, if you’re smart, you’ll use it to prepare yourself for next season and come out stronger and healthier than you were during the last go-round.

The “Get ‘On’ in the ‘Off’-season” Game Plan:

Step 1:  Set your goals and make a plan.  Look back at last season (or the last 5-10 years) and review what was good and what needs improvement.  For athletes, average Joes, and paleo newcomers alike, things to work on might include an aspect of training or exercise (strength, endurance, start workout program, etc.), nutrition/diet hurdles (weight loss, weight gain, eating for energy, improving a heath condition, dialing in training diet, etc.), life balance (family, work, fun, etc.) or something else.  Decide what you want to accomplish and set your priorities.

Step 2:  Enlist help.  Okay, this is where the experts come in.  Whether it’s a coach to help develop your training program, a Paleo Dietitian to help get your nutrition dialed in, or a life coach/mentor to assist in finding life balance; get the help you need now – don’t wait until next season.  This is the perfect time to work on your weaknesses and get everything dialed in!

Step 3:  Evaluate your progress often.  It’s easy to get lazy during the winter and holiday seasons.  What starts as one treat easily becomes six or seven; one or two missed workouts turns into a month of ‘couch surfing’; and jeans migrate to sweat pants with elastic waistbands.  This is not the direction we want things to move!  If you find yourself slipping -don’t quit!  Regroup, refocus and jump back in!  Use your ‘support team’ – coaches, Paleo Dietitians, etc. to hold you accountable.  Stick to the plan!

Step 4:  Don’t succumb to guilt.  It’s perfectly fine to decrease your training (in fact in many cases a little rest will help things), enjoy some holiday treats (some, being the KEY word here), and just veg out a little during the dark winter months.  Just don’t let a couple of cookies or a missed workout or two make you feel guilty and drive you into a downward spiral that ultimately ends in giving up.  Really focus on enjoying treats, time off, and a break from the busyness of the summer season.  Whatever you do DON’T let a few ‘off’ days make you throw in the towel.  Two cookies do not equal failure – two dozen cookies per day for two weeks – and we’ve got some problems…  Food and exercise should never control you or your life.  The steering wheel is yours – a couple left turns won’t hurt as long as you turn right a majority of the time!

Step 5:  If you follow steps one through four, you’re going to come out an ‘ off-season’ champion!  You will find yourself ready to take on the challenges of next season.  Your weak links will be stronger, nutrition will be dialed in, and trying on bikinis for spring break will actually be enjoyable for a change!

What are you waiting for?  Gear up your ‘Get On in the Off-season’ Game Plan now – and next season you’ll be a force to be reckoned with!  Let us know how we can help!

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  1. Brenda
    October 26, 2011 at 6:42 am

    Thanks for the encouragement Amy. I’m actually looking forward to the winter months to get myself in awesome shape before spring. I’m in my second week of Paleo but had a question about honey…is it okay to indulge in a tea with honey (1 tsp) occassionaly. If so, what would you recommend as the max frequency before it starts creating too much of an insulin response? I do love a little hot tea with honey but will do away with it if it’s an absolute no-no. Thanks in advance for any feedback.

    • Amy Kubal
      October 26, 2011 at 10:41 am

      Brenda, every once and awhile some tea with a bit of honey is fine. Just make sure every once and a while doesn’t become every day!!! :)

  2. Jen at luck & funny
    October 26, 2011 at 7:57 am

    Cold and dark to me signals that it’s time to move indoors — weight training! During the summer I move to maintenance and focus on play-type activities, which means lots of swimming, long walks, beach activities, and more indulgences. Winter is when I set goals and really buckle down. To be honest, I can’t wait for the clocks to change!

  3. Erin C
    October 26, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Maybe it’s because I live in a cold climate and am a total gym nut, but I actually get MORE fit/lean/strong in the winter. I hole myself up in the gym for, oh, about 6 months straight while the snow and ice flies outside. No patios calling my name, no abandoning my hard workout in favour of a casual dogwalk in the park, no slothy camping trips or summer vacations with delicious eats n’ treats… Winter’s my time to shine, baby.

  4. Michelle
    October 26, 2011 at 8:50 am

    It’s too hot in Florida during the summer for me to really enjoy being outside unless I’m at the beach. This time of year is when I get frisky and truly enjoy being outside, working hard and training hard. I can’t wait for the clocks to change either!

    • Amy Kubal
      October 26, 2011 at 10:39 am

      You are one of the lucky ones Michelle! Here in South Dakota soon my nostrils will be freezing together every time I breath in when I go outside… Not a good time!

  5. Ian
    October 26, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Really well said about not letting things spiral. As opposed to feeling guilty about slipping up and having a couple cookies, it’s best to just realize how much you enjoyed them and not stress about it. One little slip isn’t going to ruin your goals so just keep on doing the healthy stuff.

    • Amy Kubal
      October 26, 2011 at 10:37 am

      Thanks Ian!!!

  6. stone temple paleo
    October 26, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    Shoveling the snow is a great total body workout.

  7. PaleoDentist
    October 26, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    I’m thinking of eating “in season” as in eating what is available in my geographic region. this means as soon as the available plants are gone, they are gone from my diet. so I will be going carnivore for 3 months. I will be using a local organic farm as my edible plant source.

    • Amy Kubal
      October 26, 2011 at 4:29 pm

      Awesome plan!!! :) Unfortunately, some consider ‘Santa’ and ‘Snowman’ shaped cookies to be eating ‘in season’! Glad that you aren’t part of that group! :)

  8. Vicarious
    October 26, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    This is a great article, and very timely for me. I spent this summer, like many others, disappointed that I didn’t get my ass in gear and feeling fat, frumpy, uncomfortably hot and wishing that I could finally wear a bathing suit or some nice summer clothes without oozing out of them. Too frequently I let things spiral out of control, and by the time new year’s/early spring rolls around, I have so much work to do to get even remotely in shape that it’s overwhelming and I give up.

    I’m going to make this off season the one where I actually get in shape and get my body to where I want it to be for the first time in my life. I want to be ready for next summer to have fun and enjoy it and not have to worry for once if anyone else notices my rolls of fat as much as I do.

    • Amy Kubal
      October 26, 2011 at 7:18 pm

      Awesome!!! Let me know if I can help you with the nutrition piece! :)

  9. Jordan
    October 26, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Amy,
    Love the tips! I live in a similar climate to you. It’s about to get really cold here. This is definitely the time when I begin to put on the track pants, and let things slide a bit. Thanks for helpful ideas to help us steer the ship.

    Cheers,
    Jordan

    • Amy Kubal
      October 26, 2011 at 7:17 pm

      Thanks Jordan!

  10. frances
    October 26, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    This post came at the perfect time: I’d had a stellar paleo day yesterday–that is, until my upstairs neighbor brought down four freshly-baked pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. The mister and I scarfed ‘em in immediately. And after a moment of chastising myself, I came to the same conclusion that you did: two cookies ain’t gonna derail the wagon. I think many of us paleo folks tend toward the Type A, all-or-nothing, perfectionist personalities, and it’s important to go easy on ourselves when we’re not 100% on the ball. That’s simply not sustainable. Thanks for reminding us/reconfirming that!

  11. Susan H
    November 2, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    I suppose it depends on your sport. I’m a fencer, and our season goes from August 1-July 31. Our “season” never really ends, except for that vague month in August when teenage fencers go to camps, and older fencers (like me) are thankful that we still have our knees.

    Otherwise, our competitive season is “casual” with Club tournaments on the weekends, sprinkled with National qualifier events every other month. In January, that’s when the hard-hitting serious stuff starts, because there are even more qualifiers and club tournaments on weekends. Everyone is gearing up for Summer Nationals at the end of June/first week of July. Add to that if you’re an “elite athlete”, and you’re not only flying to fence these National qualifiers, but international events as well.

    So I suppose that while this is the “off season” for most, it’s more like “active recovery” for others. Part of that for me (and my boyfriend) is to cook and eat clean on the weekends and during the week, but not to beat ourselves up if we go out for sushi with rice. We also do the dreaded CrossFit, but our box is more like what Rob talked about in Episode 94, with an actual sane methodology and programming geared to On-Ramp beginners and work to not necessarily be that “elite” CF’er (though we have a few who do compete), but to maximize your personal potential without just killing yourself over it.

    So overall, I agree with the article, even though the idea of “off-season” is more like “off-month” for me!

  12. Gilberto Gaulding
    May 1, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Off seasons are perfect for me. Well, soccer is my only sport and when there are no games, I pretty much stick to working out at home and running around the neighborhood.

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