Don’t wait to lose the weight!

Many players rely on in season training to take them to their in season weight.  While this may work, it may not be the most healthy option for your body.  As you get closer to your competitive season you will be asking a lot from your body.  You’ll most likely be doing more intense training.   Tournaments are brutal.  Do you really want to ask your body to do its most intense adaptation and repair work while operating under a calorie deficit?   If your mind is on weight optimization you may not be as diligent about replenishing your glycogen stores and eating protein after your workouts.  Not eating enough will have a negative impact on your ability to recover between workouts.  Improper fueling during tournaments and long practices will negatively affect the quality of your performance.  If you have a few extra pounds you’d like to lose, why not do it now while your workouts are less intense and there is less damage to repair between training sessions?

Relying on hard workouts to help you lose weight in season can also prevent you from taking responsibility for learning about proper portion control and nutrition.  You may be able to eat almost as much as you want in season, but if you continue those eating habits into the off season (or into your thirties) you will find that weight gain becomes inevitable.  Psychologically, it may be easier to learn to eat smaller portions in the off season.  If you are not working out as much you will logically understand the need for fewer calories.  Additionally, some people report being less hungry if they are not exercising as much.  Hunger is actually a bad moderator for food consumption.  Just because you feel hungry does not necessarily mean that you need more calories.  The hunger mechanism is still not well understood and may affected by exercise disproportionately to the amount of extra calories required.

Weight loss is not rocket science.  Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to know your blood type, eat like a caveman, eat raw foods, or eat only grapefruit.  You DO need to consume fewer calories. There are more and less nutritious ways to achieve the goal of fewer calories, but even eating only Twinkies (not recommended!) will work if calorie reduction is the primary goal.

Just because it’s not rocket science doesn’t mean it’s easy.  Behavior modification is extraordinarily difficult.  Here are three tips that are backed by research, not celebrities.

1. Weight yourself frequently

The National Weight Control Registry was created to figure out differences between people who are able to lose and maintain weight loss versus those who do not.   The researchers of NWCR have mined a database of over 5000 participants in a long term study.  They found that people who successfully lose and maintain weight loss, weight themselves frequently.   It is thought that monitoring weight can help people to recognize when they may be regressing away from healthy habits.  Healthy habits can then be reenforced before they are completely lost.

2. Keep a food diary

Like weighing yourself, keeping a food diary is an act of paying attention. You know that you cannot pretend the second helping of pumpkin pie didn’t happen if you are committed to writing it down on paper. The affect is often to avoid the second helping before it happens.

3. Eat Soup

A perfect weight loss tip for cold winter nights. Soup has been found to control hunger better than eating a meal with the same ingredients, and a glass of water.  Strange but true!

If you try only one thing from this article, please try the fantastic Hearty Lentil Stew recipe below.   Simply in Season is a world community cookbook commissioned by Mennonite Central Committee and they have graciously allowed me to share this recipe with you here.

This soup is cheap, low calorie, nutritious, filling, and surprisingly good considering it’s simplicity.  I cannot think of a more perfect food on a cold winter day!

Hearty Lentil Stew

(serves 6)

4 cups / 1 L water

1 cup / 250 ml dried lentils

1 cup / 250 ml fresh or canned tomatoes (chopped)

4 large carrots (chopped)

2 onions (chopped)

1 teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon dried marjoram

2 T dry sherry (optional)

Cook together until the lentils and carrots are soft, 40-45 minutes.

¼ cup / 60 ml fresh parsley (chopped)

2-3 teaspoons salt

Stir in parsley with salt to taste. Heat another minute and serve, garnished with grated Swiss or Gyuyere cheese (optional)

For another great gift idea…

Simply in Season would make a wonderful Christmas gift for the food lover in your life.

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