During my off-season, I tend to relax. I get more acquainted with my couch and the latest seasons of This Is Us. I drink a few extra glasses of wine. I never pass on dessert. Mentally, this break is important. During a training period, I’m fairly disciplined with sleep, hydration and nutrition so now, it’s fun to cast-off early bedtimes and recovery smoothies in favour of returning to the land of normal wake-up times and social events. But after a while, it becomes increasingly evident that it can’t last forever. When that happens, I book a meeting with my sports nutritionist to set me up with a November plan.
I should point out that I don’t ever follow strict plans exactly. My morning coffee and occasional chocolate are non-negotiable. My sports nutritionist needs to find a way to add both of these into a plan. In all of this, with her help, I decided to try a sugar cleanse as a way to improve my health but without obsessively tracking anything. Here’s what I’ve learned.
Drinking enough water is hard. The standard recommended intake of eight cups of water is ideal for most, but when you’re adding training to the mix, you need to replace those lost fluids too. Realistically, I find that I’m needing about 10 cups of water a day. To stay hydrated more easily, I’ve done this by swapping in sparkling water. That just makes things more fun.
November’s a bad time for a friend to open a cookie company. I was recently gifted a box of assorted cookies from a close friend who’s an incredible baker. There are a few non-negotiable rules in my life and one of those is not offending those who I love because of dietary experiments. Yes, I tried them and yes, I would do it again.
Alcohol has a lot of sugar. I gave my sports nutritionist a heads up that I would be attending a number of galas and holiday parties this month and would most likely have at least one drink. She helped me plan for this. I found myself reaching for vodka and club soda which really isn’t so terrible with juice of a lemon or lime added.
This is a good way to eat more veggies. While I’m already a fairly healthy eater, I was shocked at how many vegetables I reached for when I eased up on my carb and fruit intake this month. Breakfast and dinner was when I had the bulk of my starches and I’ve swapped that out with roasted root veggies, zucchini noodles or fresh, raw veggies.
I found a new favourite breakfast. Granola is my weakness and sadly, it got cut this month. When it comes to breakfast, there are only so many eggs I can eat. I began experimenting with high fat, high protein breakfasts. I landed on my absolute favourite concoction of plain Greek yogurt topped with coconut strips, pumpkin seeds and almond butter. It’s so good, I doubt I’ll be going back to granola when November ends.
So how have I felt? It has only been a few weeks but I’ve had a number of people comment on my skin which is really healthy during a traditionally dry season. I’ve also had an increase in energy – much appreciated during a time that’s a bit of a dull month with shorter days. With the month drawing to an end, I’m not going to jump right back into bad habits. Rather, I’ll ease into a full holiday season enjoying my Christmas cookies but also remembering those veggies!