7 Ways to Become the MacGyver of Off-Season Weight Control

Weight loss is a perennial New Year's Resolution. As cyclists, we need to be mindful of our weight year-round, not just around January 1. After all, the fastest way to improve your power-to-weight ratio (a really raw yardstick to how fast you can go on your bike) is to chop off the weight while maintaining your power.

At this point in your off-season, if you haven't been minding your weight, it's time to start. Here are 7 ways to get control as shared by Tyrone Holmes on Active.com.

  1. Keep Riding - The no-brainer reason: manage the calories-in/calories-out equation. The hidden reason from my perspective? You've created a habit of daily (or almost daily) workouts, so don't break that habit. New habits are hard to establish. Working out is a healthy habit to have. Cherish it.
  2. Ride Long and Hilly - You need some longer moderate intensity riding each week. Plan for one long ride and one hilly ride. If weather prevents these from being rides outside, see the next idea...
  3. Cross Train - This is the winter saviour of icy-weather cyclists like me. Any aerobic activity will do: cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skating, running, swimming. Even a bout of snow shoveling counts! I've filled many of my winter Sundays with a long cardio-combo session of snowshoeing, followed by classic cross-country skiing, finishing with an hour of clearing my driveway.
  4. Strength Train - Cycling is not a weight-bearing sport. Our bone density will benefit from strength training year-round. Your peak power generation will also benefit. And a strong core provides a stable platform for your legs to push against while riding. Off-season is the best time to begin strength training if you haven't already done so. And when you return to in-season? Keep it up once a week. See the power of habit in idea #1 above...
  5. Stop Eating So Many Carbs - Riding less than 2 hours at a time? You do not need sports drinks or energy bars. Water is good enough. Perhaps in the hour before or after you ride you can have a few higher glycemic index (GI) carbs. Outside those time-windows, keep them low GI, like you get from most vegetables.
  6. Have a Holiday Eating Plan - Set eating rules in your mind before you go to holiday party meals. For example, follow the Michael Pollan Plan: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. Another way to look at it: If vegetarians can define themselves by a rule of never eating flesh - and live every day by that rule - can't you create an equally self-empowering rule (or set of rules) for yourself when you go a-partying?
  7. Do You Know About the 5-Pound Rule? - Don't expect to maintain your race-weight all season long. 5 pounds of weight gain is okay - but no more! When real in-season riding returns, 5 pounds can come off quite easily. But if you've got more than that to lose, an in-season weight loss plan can muddle up your efforts in real power gaining workouts. You won't have the energy in your tank for high-quality workouts. You might also want to read my article about the issues of asymmetric weight loss.
There you have it. 7 solid ways to control your off-season weight. MacGyver would be proud that you've got so many resourceful ideas in your mental toolkit!