Wednesday, November 23, 2011

pre-emptive holiday weight loss

okay, yeah, i know, i haven't posted anything in awhile. sue me. things have been a little busy and i've been a little preoccupied. all of it career-related, and hence something that's a little high on my list of priorities. but now that it's Thanksgiving break i have a little bit of breathing room, so i figured i should post something here for all of you, since things have been feeling a little bit lonely.

i haven't completely been out of things.  i have, despite everything, managed to maintain some semblance of a workout schedule, and even generated some progressive training.  it wasn't that hard, since training is pretty much part of this lifestyle that i (and i'm sure most of you) lead.  truth be told, for me it's actually necessary, even compulsive, since it's about the one thing i have that lets me get my head straight.  if it wasn't for training, i don't know where i'd find something that lets me clear out the stress, decompress, focus, and--most importantly--make some sense of everything.

which is why i can say that even as things have gotten busier my training has actually ramped up, both in intensity and volume.

which is good, since i'm heading into the inevitable weight gain that comes with the holiday season.  and getting my weight under control now hopefully saves me some headaches post-holidays.

although, i am trying to do things a little differently this year.

my weight isn't constant. over the course of a year, it fluctuates. i've tracked it, and it actually follows a sine curve, with my weight going down during the summer and rising in the winter. which makes sense, considering that during the summers i'm more physically active and eating a diet dominated by fresh fruit and vegetables, while during the winter i'm more sedentary and eating a diet skewed toward cooked and baked goods.

usually, i treat the winter weight gain as part of the off-season, with time reserved for hibernation to let myself get some physical and mental recuperation from a season of racing.  typically, being in the U.S., i mark the start of off-season with the arrival of Halloween (October 31) and continuing through Valentine's Day (February 14), with the peak (or, depending on your point of view, the nadir) being from Thanksgiving (usually November 23-24) to Christmas (December 25) and New Year's Day (January 1).

i don't eliminate all training during this time period, but i do definitely usually scale back the workouts or do cross-training in other sports. regardless, the effect is the same: a more sedentary lifestyle.

only thing is, the sedentary lifestyle of off-season is timed with a season accompanied by holidays that can only be described as caloric tsunamis.  at least in the U.S., Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and Valentine's Day are all occasions where everyone--including me--indulge the time-honored American affliction of engorging ourselves with all the foods we're advised to avoid: fatty meats, fatty vegetables, fatty carbohydrates, fatty desserts, fatty fat fat fat fat fat fat fat. usually with lots of salt and sugar to help it all go down.

the resulting weight gain, along with the  simultaneous loss of conditioning, means that i'm digging myself a hole every winter in terms of work that i know i'm going to have to do with the arrival of spring to get myself back into shape...and that means foreknowledge of having to go through all the suffering of climbing the mountain of training all over again.

this year, i'm doing things differently...or so i hope.

usually, i try to assuage my neurosis about weight and conditioning by engaging in bouts of binge training on every holiday, with the self-consolation that i'm burning off all the calories i ingested and restoring some of the fitness that i lost.  even though i know that this is just futility in the onslaught of food and indolence.

this year, i decided to maintain the training through October and November, with the workouts actually going on a progression into this Thanksgiving. the goal is to have some pre-emptive weight loss, with me actually over-shooting my lower weight targets.

the idea is that whatever weight i gain during December will actually serve to just bring my weight back to normal.  if not that, then at least it will be compensated by the weight i lost before.  in addition, by maintaining conditioning through November, i'm cutting short the off-season and reducing the amount of fitness i'll lose before the next season starts in March.

essentially, this means that the sine curve peak will be restricted to just 3 months (December, January, & February), producing either a lower peak (i.e., less peak in weight) or less time in sedentary mode (i.e., less wavelength above my average weight).

at least, that's the plan.

the tricky part is that the off-season is actually crucial in terms of providing your physical and mental engines time to recover, particularly on microscopic and subconscious levels--which tend to add up and affect you in ways you don't realize, and which tend to take their own pace in terms of recharging.  and so it's not something to be shortchanged, meaning that i'm playing a balancing act between what i know is some much-needed recovery versus much-concerned weight & fitness issues.

i don't know how this will turn out, since this is the first time i'm trying it and it's still ongoing.  i'll have to let you know how things go.

and oh yeah, to everyone in the U.S.: Happy Thanksgiving!  and remember: caloric tsunami!

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