3 Tips For Staying Lean This Off-Season

Shorter days, holiday parties, and fewer events on the calendar to train for mean one thing to those of us who like to race‚ the dreaded off-season is here.

If you’re like me, then from a fitness perspective you hate this time of year. It’s really easy to lose your motivation, put on a few pounds, and erase all that hard work you’ve put in throughout the year.

But it doesn’t have to happen. Here are a few tips to help you survive the off-season so that you can start next season in a better place than you started this season. Wouldn’t that be a great thing?

1. Adjust Calorie Consumption For Decreased Training

My training and mileage has really been curtailed the past few weeks. Mostly this is because of injury and tapering for my big event. But I’ve also scaled back intentionally because I’m not training for another event and I’m trying to rest my body a bit.

Unfortunately, I haven’t quite cut back on my calorie consumption and my body is adjusting to these excess calories in the expected, but unfortunate manner that we’re all so used to. Yep, my pants are a tad tighter, and the scale is tipping a bit heftier.

I’m nipping this in the bud much earlier this year than last. So it’s back to logging my calories and limiting myself to about 1800 per day. Do you know how many calories you should be eating?

2. Moderately Indulge

Does that 10th bite of cheese cake taste as good to you as the 1st or 2nd? For me it doesn’t. But there’s still a part of my mind (and my pocket-book) that wants to belong to the “clean plate club.”

Don’t be afraid to step away from the plate. It’s ok not to finish. It’s even better to share with someone else.

I really believe in a sort of law of diminishing returns when it comes to food satisfaction. That first bite tastes like heaven. But if you slow down and actually take some time to enjoy that bite and truly let your mind and stomach process the glory that you’ve just ingested, I’m betting the second, third, and fourth bites won’t give you as much pleasure as the first. So why not save the calories when the reward isn’t as good as the risk?

Go ahead and indulge, but do it smartly.

3. Get Rid Of The Factory Foods

I don’t know about you, but I feel much more full after a meal of freshly prepared, raw ingredients than I do after eating a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. There’s something more inherently satisfying about taking the time to prepare a home-cooked, healthy meal. So open your cupboard, trash all the processed foods, and get back to basics.

If you’re like me, already looking forward to the next racing season, then these tips should help distract you from the fact that you’ve got nothing to train for right now. But just because you’re not training doesn’t mean you have to let your body deteriorate. In fact, you should be doing the opposite. Concentrate on your nutrition, let your body rest and recover so that you come back stronger and healthier—ready to race!


Mac Smith is an ex high school chemistry teacher who lives in Salem, OR. He also used to be fat. Today he's a stay at home dad for his two kids and also the writer of the blog Get Fit Slowly. There he has chronicled his journey from fat to fit and offers advice for others on how to live healthier lives.

2 thoughts on “3 Tips For Staying Lean This Off-Season

  • December 17, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Thanks Jarret: I’ve been working all day today (without much success) on trying to break old habits. Don’t know why they resurfaced today, though

  • December 17, 2010 at 7:18 am

    Hey Mac, those are some great tips. I found when I used to compete in sports that it was challenging to adjust my diet during the off season to compensate for less activity. As for finishing the plate, that’s unfortunately something that many of us were told to do be our parents while growing up with myself included. Old habits can be hard to break, but not impossible.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *