Junk in your Trunk – 8 Tips to lose the luggage

StethoscopeIt was just a routine checkup. The requisite pre-exam paper work had to be filled out. You know the stuff; general personal information, health history and questions about any chronic health conditions and the like.  Oh and vaccination history.  Goodness, who the heck can remember that stuff! Thankfully I snagged the health file from the office and was able to piece together those historical medical tidbits and scribe them into the forms.  After handing the paperwork back to the receptionist, a brief wait ensued and then it was game time. There was definitely a bit of anxiety present; increased heart rate and an almost caffeinated alertness.  Totally understandable I think. A lot of us get visceral reactions to the smell of antiseptics, Band-Aids and the sight of those ‘biohazard’ bins in the exam rooms.

After of few minutes, the visiting intern came in and took vitals. Oh, no – the weigh in.  Why does that simple act of stepping on a scale create so much apprehension?!  Thankfully this one would be barefoot (no added ‘bonus’ weight!).  The numbers were recorded without much ado. After some quick conversation about running and triathlon (the doc commented on a race hoody I was wearing) she left and commented that the doctor would be right in.

As if on cue, the head doc entered the exam room.  He was really fired up because the intern shared with him that was a professional triathlete. He had a six degree of separation connection to another female pro and was curious if I knew her.  The conversation then rambled into the arena of bicycles and Mr. Doc had just dropped some coin to buy himself a new bike. Though he admitted he didn’t know when he would have time to ride it, he was definitely inspired by triathlon and everything it represented.  It’s amazing just how much triathlon has found its way into so many people lives! Anyhoo, just when I was starting to wonder if this appointment was going to cut into today’s training time, the doc got back to the business of medicine.

He pulled out all the doctor tools – the stethoscope, thermometer and that thing that you look in ears with and systematically completed the remainder of the exam.  After reviewing the healthy history file and satisfied with the info he collected, the doc took a deep breath.  He exhaled, “well, I’m afraid to say, you’ve got junk in your trunk.”

Holy, neon compression socks! Did he say what I think he said?
Those words could seriously traumatize any female and send her on a salt and sugar bender.
Who knew that despite regular sprints

down the beach and healthy carrot treats, Bella was clearly not exercising enough. It’s my fault since I have been so busy and I haven’t taken her on walks as much as I used to.  Fortunately, aside from the thermometer thing (you know where they put those things), Bella wasn’t offended. She was shivering and shaking a bit like Chihuahuas do, but likely resigned to reality. The pooch has to unpack the pounds.

Bella the chihuahua
It’s no secret. We all probably have some extra luggage that we’d like to unload. Whether it’s the accumulation of weight from a former lifestyle, a little post pregnancy weight or those last pesky pounds to get to a desired race weight, we are all in the same boat. Add in the specter of squeezing into some skin tight tri gear and even tighter wetsuit and few (or many) extra pounds can sometimes work against one’s motivation to get out and train or race.

Whether you’ve got 3 pounds or 33 pounds you’d like to shed,
Here are eight quick tips to help you on your way:

  1. Take Inventory. Write it down.
    We are really good at fooling ourselves about what we eat.  Keep track of your food and drink consumption for 3 to 7 days. Write down the what, when, where of what you ate or drank.  You’ll quickly start to see patterns, giving you direction for a plan of attack.
    Are you eating too little or too much? Do you starve yourself all day and binge at night?
    Do you eat enough at one sitting to feed a small country?
    Identify an area you can work on and set small goals accordingly.
  2. Increase your vegetable consumption. Add a veggie or two to each meal. Fill up on colorful, nutrient dense choices. Fiber is filling. Be sure to choose of mix of textures including crisp and crunchy for the most meal satisfaction.
  3. Check your fluids. What are you drinking daily? Water, energy drinks, juices, alcohol, sodas? Do you know how many calories that ‘healthy’ smoothie from the local yoghurt shop contains? Awareness is half of the equation. Understanding what you drinking may uncover a chronic state of under-hydration or perhaps an over consumption of fruit juices.  (lots of calories!) Make sure you are getting what you need but consider reducing consumption of drinks that pack in excess calories or don’t provide critical nutrients.
  4. If you eat out, choose your selections wisely. Consult the menu and the nutritional information.  We are not talking deprivation here, but aim to balance the nutrient and calorie load. If you really want to fried appetizer, then maybe opt for lower calorie vegetable or protein dish. If it’s dessert that you are dreaming about, skip the appetizer, choose a main dish that fits your desired calorie profile and split the dessert with your dining companion.
  5. Calories in / calories out. Be realistic about the calories you are burning. Are you running 3 miles a day and burning a few hundred calories? Or are you logging 50 mile bike rides and churning through 1500 calories in a workout? If dropping some wiggly stuff is your goal, then it’s important to have a good sense of your daily energy expenditures so you can fuel accordingly. In other words, running three miles and rewarding yourself with a 1500 calorie burger and 450 fries won’t help you on your journey to svelte street.
  6. Fuel for your workouts. Reduce your portion sizes / calories at main meals.
    During the main part of your training/racing season, be sure you are fueling during your workouts. It might make sense to not take in calories while training because you want to burn them off, right?  Not quite!  Generally speaking, for workouts over 75 minutes, you
    want to provide your body the fuel to perform. Under hydrating and under fueling will compromise your ability to perform (and get the most from your workout) and impede recovery. Instead, check your portions at meals and choose what you eat carefully.  Manage your calorie reductions at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  7. Ramp up the intensity. Add short intervals to your workouts to boost your calorie burn and fitness (your coach can help here!) While it’s true you burn a higher percentage of fat at lower intensities, you actually burn more total calories and boost your fitness simultaneously when you pick up the pace.
  8. Get strong. Strength train. Not only will strength training help your build muscle and increase your resistance to injury, working the weights (or strength exercises) will assist you in your quest for less (of you).

I don’t believe that there are ‘bad’ foods when it comes to eating, just better choices (ok, except maybe pork rinds).  Keep your diet varied and colorful and integrate the tips above and you’ll be well on your way to dropping the junk in your trunk!

Rachel Sears Casanta is a professional triathlete, endurance sport expert and owner of Hypercat Racing, an endurance sport coaching and bike fit studio in Ventura, CA.  Rachel coaches runners, cyclists and triathletes of all levels. Contact Rachel for more information about triathlon training plans and coaching packages. Visit www.hypercat.com

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