Runner fitness: 12 ways to hop past Easter weight gain

Spring is here, and running season is underway. Race participants are exercising extreme devotion to train for everything from their first 5K fun runs to marathons, triathlons, and ultra endurance events. Enter the Easter holiday. Here come the chocolate bunnies, sugar-glazed hams, and jelly beans in every conceivable color and flavor. Uh-oh. There goes the running season diet plan.

This need not be so. Why let a little holiday revelry derail one’s personal fitness and workout goals? Consider these 12 practical ways to keep fitness goals going, even during the delightful Easter holiday season.

Adapted by this user from public domain artwork.

 NOTE: Written by this author, this copyrighted material originally appeared on another publisher’s site. That site no longer exists. This author holds all rights to this content. No republication is allowed without permission.

1. Banish the basket of treats.

Sure, the Easter Bunny leaves candy in all sorts of spots each year. But that’s not a mandate to gorge. Why not pass that stuff around or donate some of it to a food pantry? Chocolate lovers might choose to freeze it for small portion post-race rewards throughout the season.

Here’s a bonus tip: More than a few runners stash a few of those no-fat jelly beans, gummy candies, or tiny Tootsie Rolls for mid-race or long-run training quick-energy treats. These morsels may be more agreeable to tender tummies than lots of the popular goo gel products.

2. Choose snug clothing for the Easter gathering.

This one of the oldest tricks in the books for weight-conscious folks. Baggy clothes seem somehow to encourage overeating. Tighter waistbands remind us not to overindulge, simply because we become uncomfortable. Save the stretchy clothes for running. It works.

3. Take a diet-friendly dish to share.

In many families and social circles, it’s customary for Easter guests to contribute dishes to pass at these holiday gatherings. Why not offer to take a vegetable tray, fruit platter, a big green salad, or another fitness-minded offering?

4. Don’t arrive hungry for the Easter feast.

Showing up for an Easter brunch, buffet, or dinner with a growling, empty stomach only adds to the temptation to overdo it. Eating a smart meal earlier in the day can help to stave off such temptations.

5. Go unleaded for the day.

It’s amazing how many calories a couple of alcoholic drinks, glasses of wine, or refills of sugary soda can add to one’s daily total. Choosing water instead leaves lots of room for yummy eating.

6. Pick smaller plates for the meal.

This tried-and-true visual trick still works, especially at a serve-yourself meal. Larger plates tempt us all to take more of everything.

7. Major on favorite foods in the buffet line.

Weight-conscious folks tend to understand the advantage of surveying all of the food choices at a meal before choosing which to sample and which to enjoy in bigger helpings. It’s a juggling act. If dessert will bring a favorite pie or cake, one might grab a smaller scoop of cheesy macaroni or mashed potatoes to keep the carbohydrate counts down. 

Hey, no one says everyone has to load up on the marshmallow/gelatin ring, just because it's there.

8. Take miniature portions, if needed, to be polite.

Did the mother-in-law make her famous rhubarb pie? Did Grampa bring a boatload of baked beans with bacon? What if someone hates rhubarb or can’t stand baked beans? A tiny taste won’t ruin the diet or poison the palate.

9. Chatter more than chewing.

Remember how Grandma always said, “Don’t talk with your mouth full”? It’s hard to overeat, if one is exercising the gift of great conversation.

10. Get up, and clear the table.

Anyone who jumps up to take plates into the kitchen after the Easter feast can safely stow his or her own unwanted portions without awkwardness or rudeness. A person can push food around on the plate at the table, failing to finish everything, without offending the host or hostess.

Plus, the help is usually welcomed, and it’s a handy way to add some steps to one’s day.

11. Offer to help with the dishes and cleanup.

Again, assisting is polite and generally appreciated. It’s a great way to step away from the temptation to nibble on additional portions, and dishwashing can burn a few calories.

12. Beware of leftovers.

Post-holiday leftovers can extend high-calorie temptations into the whole week (or more) after Easter. Hosts can minimize this by passing along take-home packages to guests or freezing portions for future use.

Even those who practice these Easter weight gain prevention tips may find their calorie, carb, and fat intake increased a bit during the holiday celebrations. But that’s nothing a few longer training runs cannot fix. What’s more, this spring holiday also marks the end of the Halloween / Thanksgiving / Christmas / New Year’s / Valentine’s / Easter holiday food marathon. (Maybe that’s something worth celebrating too!)

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Ever forget how many running track laps you've counted?

Mindlessness can kick in after a few loops around the track. At least, it sure can for me. Maybe you know the feeling.

There I am, jogging along at a happy clip and letting my mind wander off with whatever song is piping through my headphones. I step on up to cross my starting point for the umpteenth time, and I suddenly wonder:

“Have I done 10 laps or 12?”

Oops. Something like that.

Adapted by this user from vintage/public domain image.

OK, don’t judge. One of the beautiful things about running is the way we can be lured into the moment-at-hand, leaving the rest of life behind for a bit. Whatever happened before we stepped into our sneakers seems to evaporate, as the endorphins kick in. At the same time, we might lose count of our laps.

This doesn’t happen in an actual race or on a road or trail run. That’s because our run-mapping apps compute our journeys for us. Some of them even talk to us along with way, chirping progress updates and split times. But those programs (mostly based on GPS technology) don’t measure track runs so well. And our personal activity trackers (like my Fitbit Charge) number our steps and our stride-based daily distances, but they don’t tell us squat about laps.

So we can come around the final bend of each track trip and wonder if we’ve counted accurately.

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.

Cue my forehead slap right here.

I’ve been carrying a smart phone around for years. Like many runners, I use it for training and race tracking, music, photography, and a host of other non-telephonic purposes. 

Screenshot/photo by LAN/Runderdog - all rights reserved.

So why did I overlook the stopwatch feature for so long?

Well, duh. The stopwatch (at least on my iPhone) includes a LAP option. I can click it each time I come around. So when I hit the track after setting a personal goal of running a certain number of loops, I won’t lose my total.

Problem solved.

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Runners: What's the weirdest thing you've ever stepped over on a run?

Outdoor runners tend to be a curious sort. Maybe it’s because runners are so relieved to leave indoor treadmills behind and strike off into the great, big world to knock off a few miles. Perhaps the solitude of stomping out long stretches of roads and trails that makes such folks more observant. Runners may simply be trying to keep their wits about them, remaining alert for possible dangers.

NOTE: Written by this author, this copyrighted material originally appeared on another publisher’s site. That site no longer exists. This author holds all rights to this content. No republication is allowed without permission.

For whatever reason, running enthusiasts tend to encounter all sorts of intriguing sights along the way. On a single cross-country run recently, I stumbled over a full dozen curiosities, strewn about on the ground. 

Adapted by this user from public domain photo.

  1. A belly-up goldfish (next to a Midwestern cornfield)
  2. A bent horseshoe
  3. A bicycle chain
  4. A broken barbecue grill grate
  5. A dead snake (At least, I think it was dead.)
  6. A dented antique gold-leaf serving tray
  7. A disposable razor
  8. A headless Olympic athlete Barbie doll
  9. A preppy grosgrain ribbon golf belt
  10. A single sneaker
  11. An Atlanta Braves ball cap (Did I mention this is Wisconsin?)
  12. Three bed wheels

That doesn’t even count the miscellaneous forms of road kill and blown-out tire pieces I leapt over, as I plodded along.

Perhaps it pays to watch one’s step, while on the run. Runners have shared stories of finding everything from toys to trinkets and coins to corpses. What other strange items have runners seen on recent sojourns?

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