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How do I stay fit and avoid weight gain over the Christmas holidays?

Ask a Pro — Diane Stibbard

Coach, Personal Trainer, and Two-Time Canadian Duathlete of the Year

Diane Stibbard - two-time dualthlete of the year
How do I stay fit and not put on too much weight over the Christmas holidays?

A: The end of year holidays always pose the biggest threat to your weight, fitness and motivation levels. There are office parties, family dinners, getting together with friends for holiday drinks, which all add up to more calories in and fewer calories burned. The trick is to find a healthy balance between joining the festive cheer, without totally trashing all the fitness you’ve established over the course of the summer and fall riding season.

Here are my top five ways to avoid weight gain over the Christmas holidays:

1. Reduce your weekly workouts by one
If you normally ride 3 times per week, then schedule 2 rides per week. If you ride the bike 4 times per week, then schedule 3 rides per week. Any additional rides you get in are a bonus, that way you won’t feel like you’ve totally fallen off the fitness wagon.

2. Hydrate
Drink two glasses of water or sparkling water between each alcoholic drink, this will help keep you hydrated and potentially limit your alcohol intake. If you remain hydrated, you’ll feel better the next day, and be more motivated to get on your bike.

3. Snack
Never go to a holiday party hungry. Have a small snack that consists of a little bit of protein and a little bit of carbohydrate, about an hour before you leave home. This will stop you from diving into a plate of chips and dip, or cheese and high calorie snacks while you’re at the party.

4. Get intense
If you’re squeezed for time but don’t want to miss a ride, then shorten one of your rides and make it more intense. Throw some 30 second or one minute intervals into the ride. That burns extra calories and boosts your adrenalin, motivating you to get back on the bike again throughout the week.

5. Join a class
If your motivation is waning and you’re finding it hard to climb onto your trainer, then find a spin class and do one of your rides with a group. That will help boost your motivation and mix up your routine a little.

Here are two quick 30 minute workouts, for the time-squeezed, holiday party cyclist:

Workout # 1
• 10 min warm up – easy spinning
• 2 minutes in a moderate gear, in the small chain ring (or the middle chain ring if you have a granny gear)
• 1 minute in moderate gear, in the big chain ring
• 5 x 30 seconds high cadence, medium gear, followed by 30 seconds easy spinning – easy gear
• 2 minutes in a moderate gear, in the small chain ring
• 1 minute in a moderate gear, in the big chain ring
• 10 min easy spin to cool down

Workout # 2
• 5 min warm up – easy spinning
• 10 min steady state cycling – in a moderate gear in the small chain ring
• 10 minutes: alternate one minute of hard cycling, followed by one minute easy spinning
• 5 min easy spinning to cool down

Happy holidays. I hope you enjoy the festivities of the season, but still manage to fit in some saddle time. Not only will that help keep your waist line trim, but will also help you to maintain your fitness level.

Cheers! See you all in the New Year.
Diane provides training programs for recreational and competitive cyclists, duathletes and triathletes, including nutritional counseling and personal training. Does your company need a fitness consultant? Get in touch with Diane to discuss fitness seminars for corporations

You want personal training but don’t live near Diane? No problem. Diane does email and telephone consultations. To learn more, contact Diane at [email protected] or at LinkedIn.

Training for a two-day cycling event


Check out Diane’s e-programs: Keeping Fit in the Off-Season and Training For a Two-Day Charity Event For the Time-Starved Cyclist.



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