The Cyclist's Guide to Holiday Survival

“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” François de La Rochefoucauld

You may have found a groove to eat right during a normal week, but what about the holidays? Winning in the kitchen to lose weight with our Weight Loss Meal Plans. takes on a different when you are not in YOUR kitchen.  Espcially, when you are in the airport or a long trip to relatives.  If you are one of these athletes, you might be concerned that you'll derail all the hard work you've put in by over “holiday-ing." If so, we promise you that you're not alone.

We understand that every athlete's relationship with food is different. You may have no worries about indulging in your annual thanksgiving feast, but for others the thought of navigating holiday gatherings with lots of food can seem daunting. Regardless of which end of the spectrum you fall under, Coach Frank and our Dietitian, Lacey Rivette, have some tips that you'll find helpful this holiday season.

Tips on How to Eat Intelligently this Holiday Season:

  1. Count Memories, Not Calories: Holidays are a time where food is meant to be abundant, shared and enjoyed, not to a source of stress (I think we can all agree that 2020 has given us enough to stress about). If weight gain is a concern for you, consider this: Holiday meals make up ~3-5 of the 1100+ meals you'll eat this year and you'd have to do some serious damage to gain an entire pound or 1/2 kilo (about 3500 calories) from just one meal. With that said, you can still implement the following tips so that you enjoy the holiday without straying too far from your nutrition goals.
  2. Don’t Fast or Skip Meals: Restricting calories is a sure fire way to set yourself up to make poor food choices. Instead, have a nutrient dense breakfast and/or a small snack before the holiday meal so that you aren't throwing everything you see on your plate.
  3. Use a Smaller Plate: It is easy to let our eyes overfill our stomachs, especially when we have a giant plate to fill. If you aren't convinced, check out this picture. Wouldn't you be tempted to fill that extra white space with some stuffing or an extra dinner roll?
  4. Load up on Veggies & Lean Proteins: Aim to make half your plate veggies and lean proteins. These are winning in the kitchen approved & will keep you satiated!
  5. Eat Slow & Follow the 20 Minute Rule: Eat your first serving slowly and then wait 20 minutes before deciding if you are still hungry. Why? Because once you begin eating, food has to make its way from the stomach into the small intestines before digestive hormones can be released that signal to your brain that you are full.
  6. Set yourself up for success: If you are going somewhere else, bring a dish that you know you can have a large portion of (e.g. a salad or roasted veggies). If you are having people over, have to go containers ready so they can take some leftovers home.
  7. Eat Intentionally: Remind yourself that you can say no to the foods you don't enjoy. Just because someone cooked a dish does not mean you are obligated to eat it.
  8. Have a Dessert: Remind yourself that you don’t have to say no to dessert because again, this black or white way of thinking is a good way to set yourself up for failure. So have a small piece, just be conscious of your portion sizes.
Coach Franks Tips to Help you Ride Faster:
  1. Follow a Training Plan, but be ready to adjust your daily routine to accommodate what’s really important during the holidays: spending time with family and friends. There isn’t a workout in the world that you “have to do” during the holidays that will make or break your 2021 season. Recognize this and take a practical approach to adjusting your prescribed training. Be committed to your plan but equally be flexible when family time calls.
  2. Carve out some time for a Turkey ride on Thursday morning (see what I did there?). In other words, ride if you have time and have fun: intervals aren’t necessary unless you want to do them. Joining a group ride is a great way to get you out the door and into colder temps on Thursday morning. 60-90 minutes of riding is plenty of time for a productive training session, and it’ll help cancel out some pumpkin pie!
  3. Be Consistent: On days that fall on and around Thanksgiving, New Year’s and other holidays, be committed to riding your bike regardless of how long you have. Got 30-minutes of free time? Good, ride for 30-minutes. Keep your legs moving every single day, even if it means riding for a comically short amount of time. Remember the tortoise and the hare? The tortoise wins every time and in cycling, consistency to your training is the tortoise. Have all day on New Years Day? Ring in the new year with a 2 hour an 24-minute ride or 2024 kiloJoules or even 224 TSS!
  4. Challenge Yourself: Plan a 4 day block of training at Thanksgiving or a 7 day block in-between Christmas and New Year's Day. Live in a cold weather climate? Hop on the trainer and take or take on  the Festive 500!
  5. Prioritize Recovery: Take naps and sleep more. This is a year round tip but during the holidays you actually have the time! Use the downtime to relax and repay the sleep debt you run during the work week. Ask Santa for a Whoop to measure and track your sleep so you can increase the quality of your sleep and develops strategies to get more in the new year. Take advantage of your days off work to sleep in a little longer and pass out on the couch watching football before anyone sees you sneaking that nap!

If you can practice these tips, you’ll come out of the holiday season happy, riding fast and fueled well!
One cookie Phil, not the whole box!

Are you training indoors this winter? Here are 5 tips from Coach Jake that will help make your trainer time more productive. 


Download and join Optimize, your Year-Round Training Solution where Coaching is included, and we have two meal plans and 30 recipes for you to eat right and lose weight! The training plans are unlimited and there's a 14-day trial to see for yourself!


About Frank Overton

Frank founded FasCat Coaching in 2002 and has been a full time cycling coach since 2004. His educational background includes a Masters degree in Physiology from North Carolina State University, pre-med from Hampden-Sydney College. Frank raced at a professional level on the road and mountain bike and currently competes as a "masters" level gravel and cyclocrosser. Professionally Frank comes from medical school spinal cord research and molecular biotechnology. However, to this day it is a dream come true for Frank to be able to help cyclists as a coach.

Hire Coach Frank!