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Thursday, December 30,2010

Beating the Bloat

Five ways to recover from the holidays

By Tom Winter



You’ve enjoyed the holidays.


The festive cookies with lots of chocolate chips. The brownies with plenty of ice cream. The roast beef for Christmas dinner. A second helping of that roast beef. And then, of course, the cocktails. And the beer and the wine. And now, what you’re left with is an already tight cocktail dress that’s gotten a lot tighter. A suit that’s getting stretched and a malady known as The Bloat.

It’s OK, we’ve all been there. The demands on everyone during the busy holiday season often means that sometimes you have to wrap presents instead of unwinding your legs on a bike ride. But don’t worry, there are ways to beat The Bloat. Here are Boulder Weekly’s favorites. Five easy, fast and fun ways to keep both your fitness and sanity as the holiday season winds down and we step into the new year.

Ski the Divide

We all know that exercising at altitude is tough. Higher elevations make you work harder, you burn more calories and suffer a bit more. The payoff is that you end up fitter, stronger and faster. After all, that’s why so many elite athletes come to Boulder to train. But Boulder has nothing on Loveland Ski Area. Sitting at 10,800 feet at the base, and topping out at a rarified 13,010 feet on the Continental Divide, Loveland provides skiers and snowboarders an ideal venue to burn off the holiday fat while making turns on silky powder. Best of all, you can ditch the lifts and earn your turns out on the steep and deep terrain of The Ridge, where it’s possible to tap into untracked terrain with short hikes along the Divide. Working out has never been this fun.

Walk the Mall

Living in Boulder, it’s easy to forget that Pearl Street used to be chock-full of traffic. It still is, but now the cars have been replaced by pedestrians. If you believe that every journey starts with a step, then the first step to battling The Bloat is to take a leisurely stroll down Pearl Street for some post-Christmas window-shopping. Take your time and enjoy the scene. While street performers are thinner during the winter months, the people-watching is still fantastic. Best of all, if you do wear yourself out from the exertion, you can pop into a coffee shop to sit down and warm up. It’s OK to go with a cuppa Joe, but the mocha with whipped cream is off limits!

Cruise the Path

Boulder is a city of bike paths. And the gem of the system is, without a doubt, the Boulder Creek Path. Winding under massive cottonwood trees, through diverse neighborhoods and even past a park or two, the trail attracts thousands during the summer. But those folks are staying home right now, which means that you can beat The Bloat and get your body back in motion via a cruise along the creek. The east-west route takes you from the base of Fourmile Canyon out into the eastern grasslands of Boulder. Along the way you’ll pass mothers strolling with the kids, parts of CU’s campus and plenty of bird-watching opportunities. The flat trail is fast and smooth and perfect for remembering that before you ate that Christmas dinner, you actually knew how to ride your bike.

March the Mesa

There are trails, and then there’s the Mesa Trail. This superlative hike runs from Chautauqua to Eldorado Canyon, taking amazing views of the Flatirons as well as spectacular eastern vistas. During the winter months, sections of the Mesa can be surprisingly deserted, a far cry from the summer madness that sees tourists and locals alike swarm over the footpaths surrounding Chautauqua. But the best part of the Mesa Trail is the fact that the hike essentially contours along the mountains, meaning it’s easy to get back into your hiking groove. Sure, the short uphills may make you sweat out that extra cocktail or two you had at your work party, but those climbs are followed by long meanders through woods and open meadows. One hint, go in the morning, when the rising sun takes the chill off and the Flatirons glow.

Take the Plunge

Remember the Summer Olympics? How about those Olympic swimmers? Well, if you’ve forgotten, we’ll remind you. Those swimmers didn’t exhibit any symptoms of The Bloat. In fact, they were as lean as, well, dolphins. But you don’t have to be a dolphin or an Olympic swimmer to take the plunge at the North Boulder Rec Center’s lap pool. Featuring eight lanes at 25 yards each, the lap pool is perfect for getting your swim on. And at 87 degrees, it’s a lot warmer and nicer than the Boulder Reservoir at this time of year. Wrap up your workout with a soak in the adjacent hot tub and admire your new post-holiday body. After all, you’ve earned it.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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