12/8/10

Staying Warm

Unfortunately, it is not warming up in Jacksonville, FL. We are cold here and I have a chihuahua that refuses to take off his sweater.



So while it is cold outside, you may find yourself having trouble getting going in the morning when it comes to working out. And at the end of a long day, you may find it hard to get to the gym or change into working-out clothes (as oppose to your PJ's) for a late evening workout. Not to mention, it is easy to warm up with sugary sweet drinks (hot chocolate) or holiday drinks at Starbucks, Mcdonald's or Dunkin Donuts. Oh yeah, and then there are sweet treats like cinnamon rolls, bakery deserts and warm brownies to warm up your insides.

Considering it is the off-season and really cold outside, you may be struggling when it comes to finding balance in your life. I don't believe in making excuses or telling yourself that you will start tomorrow or that all is ruined because of one "bad" choice.

I have a few tricks for the cold off-season to make sure you are keeping your muscles and body healthy.

1) Tea - I am more of a coffee drinker in the morning (1 cup pre-workout and 1 cup with breakfast) but once I heat up some hot water, I am a big fan of warm tea. Tea is perfect any time of the day but I especially like it in the evening after dinner. My best suggestion is to find a tea that you enjoy drinking. Here is a good read by a RD regarding the health benefits of tea:
http://www.healthcastle.com/tea.shtml

2) Circuit workouts/Strength training/Plyometrics - What better than doing a 20 min, high intensity workout...without having to leave your house? Whether you have no equipment or a few hand weights, you can get in an effective, muscle-building workout in your very own home. I am a big believer in core work so I highly recommend a Swiss ball (stability ball) and/or a BOSU or joining a gym so that you can access one or the other (or both). Oh how I LOVE working the core.
So, considering that this is the off-season, there is no better time than now to build weak muscles, prior to the build part of your season. Specifically, weak or small muscle groups such as the glutes, lower back, core (although the foundation of the body, it is often overlooked with training), wrists, calves, shoulder, hips and inner and outer thighs.
As for cardio, I am a big fan of tempo work, mixed with short lactate-threshold intervals, in the off-season, in order to gradually teach the body to tolerate lactate, thus forcing the body to become more efficient (faster pace at a lower HR) with training. It is important that you save the high intensity specific workouts for the build and peak part of your season when you have spent the time trying to increase your lactate threshold and VO2 max. There is no better chance for injury than doing aerobic workouts all winter and then wanting to get right back into high-intensity training...with a specific speed or pace in mind. Therefore, by prioritizing some form of strength training (2-3 times per week, for around 30 min), alongside focusing on a mix of tempo/lactate and aerobic workouts, into your weekly routine, you will decrease your chance of injury as you progress with your training intensity and volume over the next few months. It's ok to replace a day of cardio for strength training. You will only gain fitness, not lose it. Be sure to focus on your recovery nutrition as high-intensity, tissue damaging training requires a healthy mix of protein and carbs immediately post workout.
Here's my fav. site for plyometric exercises:
http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/plyometric.html
(I also have a few video's on Beginner Triathlete as well as on my blog)

3) Warm food - Oatmeal, potatoes (white and sweet), bread, warm fruit (fresh or frozen, heated in the microwave for 30-45 sec.) and soup. All great foods to keep me warm inside. Because comfort food can often be high in carbohydrates, it is important that you keep balance in mind in the winter. Be sure to not neglect your post workout protein (whey, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese as examples) and to focus on balance when it comes to meals and snacks. My best suggestion is to plan your meals ahead of time (especially if you are working out), likely the day before, so that you can anticipate what it is that will fuel your day, as well as keeping you warm throughout the day.
Here's a list of healthy comforting recipes from Eating Well
http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes_menus/collections/healthy_comfort_food_recipes


I'd love to hear your suggestions of how you like to stay warm in the winter? Any great workouts or recipes you'd like to share? Feel free to leave a comment or email me! :)