Enjoy The Off-Season, But Don’t Regret It

The combination of winter and the off-season represents a threat. Professional triathlete Pip Taylor provides advice on how to keep the off-season pounds away.

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The combination of winter and the off-season represents a threat to triathletes. Professional triathlete Pip Taylor provides advice on how to keep the off-season pounds away.

Written by: Pip Taylor

Photo: John Segesta

The combination of winter and the off-season represents a threat. Race day seems far off, and the pool does not sound tempting. Besides, who is going to see your buff tri body under all those layers as you lie on the couch and reach for some more mac ’n’cheese? It may not matter if you gain a couple of pounds. In fact, for many athletes this is actually healthy and allows for some much needed recovery. An extremely lean body, while it may be ready to race fast during the peak of the race season, is not always optimal year round in terms of building and maintaining physical as well as immune strength both of which are required in the foundations of hard training. On the other end of the spectrum, though, you don’t want to have to spend the entire next race season trying to get rid of the indulgences of the winter.

So try to tread a happy medium; indulge and treat yourself if you feel you have been deprived all season, but keep in mind your goals for the upcoming year and ask yourself what is more important. Yes, the holiday season and the cold weather are going to make staying on track tough, but staying active and eating healthily for most of the time will not only help you feel better but also give you a head start in the new year.

Warming, comforting and filling food doesn’t have to be heavy. Moroccan lamb and couscous soup is a favorite in my family. It is a satisfying dinner that is hearty, healthy and delicious. It’s simple to make and takes very little preparation time. It is also great for freezing or for taking in a thermos to work. And it is open to interpretation—substitute your favorite or readily available vegetables, and while I wouldn’t make it with anything other than lamb (yep, I am an Aussie!) you could try using cubed beef. This will make a big pot, at least 10 generous servings, so invite some friends or freeze some for another day.

Moroccan Lamb and Couscous Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil

2.2 pounds (1 kg) cubed lamb

2 Spanish onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons ground coriander

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder (to taste—add more of less if you want)

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

28 ounces (800g) crushed or chopped tomatoes

2 medium-sized carrots, chopped into bite-sized pieces

1 sweet potato, chopped into bite-sized pieces (or pumpkin)

1 cup green peas or broccoli florets

2 15-ounce (440g) cans of chickpeas

34 ounces (1L) chicken stock

3.5 ounces (100g) couscous

1 bunch continental parsley, chopped

1 bunch mint, chopped

juice of 2 lemons

yogurt to serve


In a large pot, heat the oil and sauté the onions until soft. Add the garlic and spices and cook a few minutes until fragrant. Add the lamb and stir though onion mixture, and then add tomatoes and stock. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and let it cook gently for about an hour. Add the veggies and—if it is needed—a cup or so of water (so everything is covered) and continue to cook gently for about 45 minutes. Add the chickpeas and stir through to heat. Add the couscous and peas and let sit for 5 minutes until both are tender and warmed through. Stir through the herbs and serve with a dollop of the yogurt.

This soup makes a fantastic meal by itself—high in protein and carbohydrates as well as nourishing vitamins but is also great served with some accompanying pita or flat bread, warmed through in the oven.

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