One of the toughest things about being a pro athlete is adjusting to the stark difference between being in-season and the off-season. You go from spending 8+ hours a day with the same group of guys to interacting with them only occasionally via text or Facebook. You go from having every aspect of your day neatly planned out for you from the time you get to the field to the time you finally leave (with the rest of the time often spent sleeping, watching TV or playing video games) to all of a sudden being responsible for figuring out your own schedule. And those are just the major, obvious changes. There are a million little things, too. In college I remember being overwhelmed by how much laundry I suddenly had to do once I could no longer throw my sweaty workout clothes on a laundry loop and have them appear magically clean (although sometimes a little damp) the next morning.
Anyway, one HUGE adjustment is getting used to fending for yourself when it comes to food. It’s one thing to eat relatively healthy when the majority of your meals and snacks are provided and consumed at the field. But making nutritious choices is equally important during the off-season. You might be lucky enough to have a mom or wife/fiancee/girlfriend who takes care of most of the cooking and grocery shopping for you (in which case you should probably go thank her right now). But if you’re living on your own or, more likely, with a group of old teammates, we’ve got a few tips for surviving the off-season.
First, always make sure your kitchen is stocked with healthy snacks such as fresh fruit, almonds, granola bars and yogurt. That way you always have something to grab on the go.
Second, plan your meals out for the week. If you know what you’re having for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day you’ll be more likely to stick to the plan (and less likely to wander off to Chipotle because it’s next to your gym). It might be helpful to use a template to organize your plan. Personally I like this one, but you can check out some others here. Shout out to baseball wife Breanna Maruszak for the template links. If you’re interested in baseball life from her point of view, she has a very entertaining blog called Married to Baseball.
Third, as much as you probably hate to hear it, you might want to stick to some of your eating routines. There was a reason you ate peanut butter and banana sandwiches for lunch every day during the season, maybe you don’t want to stray too far from that routine. Whole wheat bread, peanut butter and cold cuts are another good thing to always keep in the house.
Fourth, don’t be afraid of the kitchen! Just because you set off the fire alarm last time you tried to use the stove doesn’t mean it will happen again! Check out Cook’s Country’s Cooking 101 for some easy-to-follow recipes (they even tell you things like why your fried chicken came out greasy last time you made it).
We’d love to hear your cooking-related tips and stories so please feel free to comment below!