"When he laughed his belly shook like a bowl full of jelly", my nearest recollection of an old Christmas song. The holidays are a tough time on triathletes. Limited daylight hinders training time, weeks of parties and huge meals disrupt diets, and travel dashes hopes for weekly mileage. I have a few suggestions that may help to keep you on track, because travel any time of the year can really alter training plans. Finding a way to keep on target during these times takes only a bit of initiative, will sustain fitness, and may also add great value to the trip. Eating well on the road and eating wisely during the holidays is a huge challenge. A poorly executed plan can result in discomfort after meals, low quality workouts the next day, expanded waistlines, and three weeks of workouts that are directed more towards weight loss than technique or aerobic advancement. Here are some suggestions to avoid the peril: Regarding Travel, Plan Ahead - For swimming: Check the web for pools in the area of destination. If you're staying in a hotel, start there - quiz the manager on the length of the pool and its temperature. Most hotels don't have pools for lap swimming, so if they are uncertain of the length it's probably a kidney shaped, kiddy pool with a hot tub like temperature. It's pretty inexpensive to visit a pool for lap swimming, and you might even get lucky with a masters program to fit your needs. Before you travel, look to the web for assistance: www.usms.org has a great list of pools, just click on "places to swim" and "search" and you can direct it to the city and state in your future. For Biking: Traveling with your bike is a bit of a hassle. It can be expensive ($50 to $100 for the flight depending on what agent you get, and a decent box can be pricey), a bit of set up and breakdown, risk of damage, unknown routes, etc. etc. Before you go, find a heath club or gym that has either a stationary bike - or better yet, a spin class. TAKE YOUR CYCLING SHOES. I ride Time shoes and pedals, and I travel with my own shoes, pedals and two wrenches for a quick changeover just before class starts. If you are going to take a spin class, don't waste it with running shoes and toe clips! Do all the necessary legwork beforehand - location of club, spin class schedule, guest fee cost and type of pedals on the bikes. For Running: There is no better way to see a new place than on foot. Several good runs can result in a new perspective and greater exposure to the area. Before I go, I like to visit California Map and Travel Center (on the South side of Pico, a couple blocks west of Centinela). A few minutes with a map can result in some great discoveries (parks, nature conservancies, water front routes, etc). When you reach the new area, a call to a local running shoe store can really help to discover great areas and maximize safety. Use running time to judge distance and reduce the pace enough so that you can take in the surroundings - out and back runs are usually the best bet in new areas. For The Basics: If a travel schedule is such a nightmare that a swim/spin/run is out of the question - then I suggest two things: 1) take 20 minutes on any floor to stretch really well and do a little ab work and 2) make drastic changes in whatever is stealing your life away. Regarding Diet - Realize the Truths - I just use the term "diet," and that right there is a risk. Our nation is obsessed with this term. It conjures up all sorts of horrific reactions. If we can get beyond the fallacies of the "grapefruit diet," the 40-30-30 plan, the juice fasts, and (my personal favorite) Nikki Haskel's Star Caps - then we can talk reality. The reality is simple - if you eat more calories than you burn you will gain mass, if you burn more calories than you eat then you lose mass. I like to eat and if I really let it go (especially during the holidays), I can easily wolf down 4000 to 5000 calories in a day. I would need to swim for an hour, ride for about 3 hours and run for 2 hours to burn off the excess calories. Yikes! So here are some suggestions for those of us out there who want to keep a handle on Festive Feasting: Drink less - a gram of alcohol has 7 calories, fat has 9 calories and protein and carbs both have 4. If you're going to reduce some caloric intake, booze is a great place to start. Warning: Eggnog contains everything you want to avoid (yolks, sugar, fat, alcohol, cholesterol, calories, etc. - it's basically death in a Christmas mug). Dedicate one day to go hog wild - pick one day of the week where nothing matters. Avoid deserts, spreads (butter, mayo, etc.), dressings, dairy, etc. for 6 days of the week and then on whatever day you choose - splurge. Eat less bread - pretty much every slice of bread has 100 calories (give or take a few). If you make sandwiches open-faced and avoid bread before and during a meal then you may save yourself 300+ calories at the end of the day. Keep just a touch of fat involved-The body needs a bit of fat to feel satisfied. If you avoid fat completely, you will need to eat more often so keep a bit of fat in your diet. Up the quality and value of the calories you do eat - pick the veggies off the party tray and pass on the mini quiches. Pull the yolks out of deviled eggs and eat the whites. Try to decide beforehand to what limits you will hold. Don't stuff yourself - eat smaller meals more frequently and you will feel better and more than likely consume fewer calories at the end of the day. There are always leftovers to have later. Have a great holiday and I'll see you out there.