I fired down the first piece of pizza cold while I jammed the rest in the toaster oven to warm up. I was that hungry, even though I’d topped my breakfast toast, four pieces washed down with three cups of coffee, with a donut and a half after my arrival at the office.
The off-season, or winter as civilians call it, provides something of a double dose of fitness trouble for me. On the one hand, I use the cold and snow as a reason not to be on the bike. On the other hand, I eat like Robinson Crusoe at a cruise ship buffet. Really, culturally, American’s set themselves up for failure, scheduling our Thanksgiving feast in late November, just as the cold is setting in. The caloric excesses of that holiday tend to dovetail nicely with the pre-Christmas calorie orgies, followed quickly by the holiday itself and then New Year, when food and drink again become the center of social interaction.
By then, bad food choices have become bad food habits. I spend January (and most of February) trying to get back to something like a reasonable daily intake, to incorporate a vegetable somewhere during the day, if not the week.
Really, I do the opposite of what makes sense. In the summer, when I’m riding the most, I eat the best. When I let myself go, late in the fall, I really let go.
I am lucky. My genes keep me thin and my cholesterol low. Outwardly, there is little indication that I am completely off the dietary rails. But when I get back on the bike I know it. I may only be five pounds from fighting weight, but I’m a lot farther from true fitness, and I know I need to eat better to feel better.
I know I’m not alone in this. The Group Ride this week asks how hard you think about your food? Do you carefully monitor everything that goes into the tank, or do you ride hard so you can eat whatever you want? Do you eat differently in the off-season, or do you maintain a consistent diet? What’s your weakness? Mine is sweets, but I have been known to abuse french fries, too.