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  • Beth Puliti: About Sports

13 Ways to Avoid Winter Weight Gain

Want to maintain your fitness, but don’t want to turn down extra stuffing or homemade cookies? Don’t worry, you can have your cake and eat it too, literally. John Heiss, Ph.D., senior director of sports and fitness for worldwide product marketing at Herbalife and former USA Cat 2 cyclist, offers a few cycling tips to exit the holiday season without losing fitness or happiness.

1. Crank up the intensity.For most of us, the fall and winter mean long, slow base miles. If you are short on time, skip the long ride and jump into a local group ride or go Strava KOM hunting. You will burn more calories per hour, and work your anaerobic systems. Mixing in some intensity is also fun too, especially for cyclists. 2. Mix-it-up. Holidays usually mean time with family and traveling. And, airport delays. It’s not practical to bring your bike for a few days, so pack a pair of running shoes and log some easy jogging miles. Your quads are probably overdeveloped anyhow, and since it is unlikely you will make the cut for the next Pro Tour team, adding some running to your cycling routine will strengthen stabilizing muscles and hamstrings.

It might even make you ride a little faster too. 3. Core Strength. Winter is a great time to add a little resistance training and make use of all that extra protein from mom's turkey. If possible, try to get a quick 20 minute core-workout in. My favorite circuit is three sets of: 30 crunches, 10 Romanian dead lifts (RDL), 20 forward walking lunges, 10 reps of hip exercises (abductor, adductor, front and rear, each leg), and 20 body-weight squats.Cut down a bit of your belly every day by using this 1 weird old tip.

Lunges will work to lengthen and strengthen hip flexors, which are chronically tight in cyclists, and the RDLs will stretch and strengthening your hamstrings, also typical weak in cyclists. 4. Hike. While an easy hike might be less than your normal training load, it’s something that the whole family can do together and burns more calories than sitting on a couch watching the game. Find a local trail and take a family in a scenic setting.

Carol Michaels, MBA, exercise specialist and the creator of the Recovery Fitness exercise program,, offers even more tips to stave off a sedentary winter season:

5. Plan ahead. Be smart and creative, so that you can enjoy the holidays without wrecking your health. Understand your strengths and weaknesses so that you can determine the triggers that cause you to skip your cycling practice. Think about being with family and friends while eating in a healthy manner and maintaining a fitness routine. 6. Use your time management skills. 7. Don't attend every party. Pick and choose the parties that are important to you. It might be better to rest or use a stationary bicycle than go to another party. Take care of yourself. Get enough sleep, a flu shot, wash your hands and eat nutritious foods 8. Learn how to say no -- to a party or a sugary treat that your spouse or co-worker gives you. The pressure to give in can be great; we don’t want to put a damper on the merrymaking or disappoint loved ones. 9. Schedule fitness into your day. Don’t let a busy schedule get in the way of your cycling program. 10. Use a stationary bike or go out for a ride first thing in the morning when you have more energy. It will also reduce stress, which will help you to control your food intake. 11. Break up exercise into several 10-minute exercise sessions. 12. Book a bike trip for January or February, which will motivate you to practice. 13. Find a riding buddy for companionship.

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