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Winter-Break Fitness

Ask a Pro — Diane Stibbard

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

Diane Stibbard - two-time dualthlete of the year

Question: “I’m going away for a winter break but worry about losing the fitness I’ve built on the bike over December and January. Do you have any suggestions?”

Diane’s reply: 
This is the time of year when some of us escape winter and head south to warmer temperatures and sunny beaches. Winter holidays allow us to unwind, get some rest and boost our Vitamin D levels. However, if you’ve been diligent about your indoor training since the holidays, you may be concerned about how to maintain your weight and fitness while you’re away.


1. Participate in the resort spin classes. This can replace your regular ride workout.
2. Replace your spin/ride workouts with workouts on the Elliptical. The Elliptical is a cross-training machine that works the quadriceps, glutes, calves and hamstrings—all the muscles involved in cycling. Cut your workouts down from 60 minutes to 30 minutes, and your longer 60+ minute cycling workouts down to 45 minutes. By reducing the time spent working out you’ll still feel that you’re on vacation but you’ll be doing enough to maintain your fitness for 7 to 10 days. If your resort has limited fitness equipment, then the list below will help keep you active without a traditional workout.
Here are a few very short but intense options to do on a stationary or spin bike. (if using a stationary bike, set the bike on the manual program so you can adjust the level you need)

Workout 1
5 min warm up
10×30 seconds maximal effort – with 30 seconds of very easy spinning in-between each effort
5 min cool down

Workout 2
5 min warm up
5-10 sets of the following
1 min hard – 30 seconds easy spinning
5 min cool down

Workout 3
5 min warm up
15 minutes’ steady state where you can converse but it is somewhat hard to talk
5 min cool down

Other ways to incorporate fitness:

– body weight exercises (don’t require a gym) lunges, squats, push ups, triceps dips, abdominal crunches and waist twists, planks. You can do a full workout with nothing but your own body.
– remember: activities that you would not normally equate with calorie burning can actually mean you are stoking the body’s metabolism – waterskiing, golf, playing in the pool or wave pool with your kids. If you own a cottage, then mowing the lawn, weeding the garden, and other regular household chores.
– walking up and down the stairs in the resort
– organize an activity with your family that involves movement and keep it fun; award prizes to motivate participation- beach volleyball, bocce, water tag, swim races.
– walk the beach morning and late day before heading back to your room
– pack resistance tubing in your bag, for 10 minutes of exercise before breakfast; good way to kick-start the metabolism.
– take the stairs in your hotel instead of the elevator.

Food and drink strategies:
– intersperse sparkling water after every alcoholic drink
– to avoid overeating, drink a large glass of water before every meal
– snack on very fibrous foods in between meals (carrots, celery, salad greens)
– pack fruit and trail mix in your bag; avoid eating junk food while waiting at the airport or for shuttles to and from the resort.
– balance treats like ice cream with leaving two mouthfuls of food on your plate at lunch and dinner. Remember one or two mouthfuls of food can add up t0 200 – 300 calories depending on the meal.

Enjoy your time away, and try not to stress too much about your fitness. If you follow even half of these suggestions you will/should minimize fitness loss and weight gain.

Training for a two-day cycling eventDiane 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, visit Diane’s website or contact her at

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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