Maxwell Strength & Conditioning Blog

Enjoy a peek at the world through Steve's eyes as he delivers sermons on everything from training to peace of mind.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Coach's Ten-Point Guide to a Bloat-Free Thanksgiving Holiday!

The dreaded (or blessed, depending on your point of view) holidays descend upon us! This is a stressful time for some of my readers, especially those of you motivated by feelings of social obligation (and its lifelong companion, guilt) than by feelings of genuine joy, much less, "thanksgiving".

It's become cliche the way people corrupt themselves during these social festivities. In truth, I'd say people would be better off forsaking the fuss and bother and going their own ways, but that's not going to happen for most of you, so let's satisfy ourselves with damage control.

This...   ...or this
it's your choice!

First, let's look at the holidays and ask what it is about these few weeks that can utterly undermine an entire year's accrued fitness results.

Sadly, it's not unusual for a citizen of the US to gain 10 pounds over the winter holidays, after abandoning their fitness routines. The reasons why?

  • The days are shorter and there is less light
  • People tend to resist working out in the dark and are driven indoors and into more sedentary activity
  • Lack of light can contribute to depression, in some people more than others. When people are depressed, they often do less and eat more
  • Cold weather further curtails many activities with the same consequences
  • It's pro-football season and many guys sit around for hours during the weekends watching their favorite teams vie for the playoffs (Coach raises hand)
  • In fact, overall TV viewing generally increases, which is especially heinous when coupled with frequent runs to the refrigerator for snacks

Despair not! I've put together an effective ten-point program.

1. Get in a brisk walk everyday of at least 30 minutes
If you can go longer, so much the better. Pair it with deep breathing exercises to really stimulate the system. An easy start is inhaling on a count of four and exhaling on a count of eight.

2. Eat at regular intervals--no matter what those intervals may be
Don't fall into the trap of a starve/stuff "diet". While it's good to familiarize yourself with genuine hunger, go too far and you could make the error of sharpening your appetite to the point of bingeing.

3. A great way to ease into a winter meal is to first enjoy a small bowl of soup
Starting off with a warm, nutritious soup can provide a sense of satisfaction early into the meal so the body isn't grasping for something more.

4. The Coach's favorite: a pre-emptive strike on calories!
This means a hard, pre-meal, calorie-depleting workout. A vigorous workout positions you for optimal nutrient partitioning, meaning your chances of gaining fat from any calorically-dense foods you eat is greatly decreased. Think of it as earning the meal.

5. For the most part, desert the holiday dessert overload--unless you enjoy the role of couch guy lying there, belt undone and his pants unzipped!
I don't mean to be an old poop, if there's a ritual dessert you love and crave year-round, better to enjoy a reasonable portion in season, rather than going the smug and austere route, but budget yourself and go in rationally. While it's not the time of year to eat solely from the radish and celery plate, still take it easy!

I myself have always hankered for pecan pie, also pumpkin. During my householder years, I'd usually enjoy a slice of each for the morning after's breakfast rather than adding it on top of the previous evening's mountain of turkey and gravy.

6. At the end of the big meal, when everyone else is having dessert, have a coffee
This provides you a sweet but sharp taste, stimulating digestion and reducing any post-prandial bloat. The dessert buffet can be the toughest course to resist; there's it's the final assault of tenacious relatives trying to fatten and soften your resolve--and your waistline--no matter how many polite demurrals you offer them in treaty.

7. First fill up on plenty of turkey and vegetables
Then, when you've hit your quota, start considering the sweet and starchy options. Often, after satisfying the body's taste for protein and the bitter taste of greens, you'll find yourself with less room than you may have previously thought.

8. During the ensuing TV marathon, haul yourself off the couch every single advertisement and get in some joint mobility--or even just a stroll around the room
It's amazing how getting vertical and walking around a few minutes can not only burn a few calories but improve your energy and outlook. An NFL game contains innumerable advertisements, providing you ample opportunity to rouse yourself from the threatening stupor. Choose a single mobility movement at a time and perform up to 100 repetitions. If there's enough time remaining during the commercial break start in on a second movement. Work on areas that feel especially tight and/or congested.

9. One of the best ways to rid yourself of a bloated gut is getting up directly after a big meal and walking
Try it yourself, for even 10 minutes, it's amazing.

10. Limit the alcohol
Stay yourself at one or two drinks. Realize that while moderate alcohol intake won't harm you, coupled with heavy meals, it's a recipe for fatty goodness. There's a subtle pleasure to be found in self-restraint that is typically overlooked on these occasions.

Now for the nuclear meltdown! Coming to a sub-division near you (or your least favored relatives!)

Here's one of my favorite pre-feast challenges!

This workout is ideal, since many of you travel to lands where gyms become a distant memory of your other, temporarily stalled, life. You won't need anything more than your jump rope and Lifeline Jungle Gym. If you like, swap out Pull-Ups for the Body Weight Rows and Jumping Jacks for Rope Skipping.

What makes this workout a super stealth annihilator is a devious combination of aerobic and anaerobic systems work.

Are you ready?

1) Rope Skip x 200
w/ Lifeline Heavy Speed Rope

2) 6-Count Burpee x 20
Full-range squats & Push-Ups, please!

3) Body Weight Row x 10
on Lifeline Jungle Gym

4) Full Sit-Up x 20
*feet NOT anchored

If you can't do a Sit-Up, roll a towel and place under the low back to adjust the leverage slightly

5) Body Weight Deck Squat x 10
Be sure to get in the shoulder stand before lowering into Plow

6) Run for 5 minutes
Since you might be in a strange neighborhood, use the "out & back" method: running out 2-1/2 minutes before heading back the same way whence you came.

Repeat the circuit 6 times! And let me know how it goes!

Six rounds of the above will get the metabolic furnace stoked and the muscles primed for an ample refeed.

This workout also makes a great detox the day after.

And remember: if you don't share people's values, you needn't concern yourself with their criticisms--or even their approval.

In Strength & Health!

P.S. If you like what you've read and are looking for some assistance in achieving your fitness goals, consider my online training services. I've got an opening for the appropriate candidate.

Coming in 2010:

Wichita KS 6-7 March

Motola Sweden 19-21 March

I hope to see you there!