Cheers to a Healthy Derby Season

Jeff Howard, right, with Mark Eliason.

Tips for Staying Well from Seasoned Derby Pros

By Jeff Howard

Derby season is here! It is the most exciting time of the year to be in Louisville, but it can also be the most exhausting. I’m here to help you navigate and prepare,  so I’ve included a few tips to help you maintain a healthy balance for the big weekend.

Leading up to Derby, try to get as much sleep as possible and maintain a low sugar diet. Train as you normally would but focus on cardio and large muscles. Also remember that working out the next day after the big event may sound like a good idea, but it may be the worst thing you can do, especially if you haven’t started rehydrating yet.

Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it causes the body to lose more water. Exercising and sweating can cause you to dehydrate even more. If you can hydrate enough to feel better, you may be able to work out later in the day. Intake wise, I recommend drinking a lot of water and eating healthy. Eggs, bananas, soup and fruit can help replace nutrients depleted by alcohol and speed the removal of toxins from your body.

I also reached out to a few local movers and shakers to find out their tips. They shared, in their own words, how they prepare to celebrate Derby.


Shannon Cogan
WAVE 3 News Anchor

Leading up to Derby, I:

Drinks tons of water.

Concentrate on hot yoga, cycling and walking. Focus and do research for the races.

Limit my sugar.

Clear my schedule completely so I just focus on the Derby and being with my family.

Plan meals for my family ahead of time so they’re prepped and ready to go.

Shannon Cogan, right, with Kendall Cogan.

During Derby, I:

Drink water with electrolytes.

Drink throat coat tea for all the on-air chatting.

Try to get eight hours of sleep per night.

Take in enough Vitamin C.

Plan my food so there are no surprises. Stick with light portions of salads, oatmeal and a protein, and try to eat every few hours.


Hollis Gargala with Blaine McLaughlin.

Hollis Gargala Pharmaceutical Sales Representative, Community Volunteer and Civic Influencer

Leading up to Derby, I:

Up the size of the weights I normally lift and focus on arms and legs.

Hydrate – drink a ton of water.

Do intermittent fasting and eat good, real foods (no late night Papa John’s) for at least a couple of weeks before.

Get a spray tan. If you can’t tone it, tan it.

During Derby, I:

Bring a pair of flats in your clutch and/or bring bandaids and shoe cushions for your feet. The high heel struggle is real.

Pace myself. The lillies and mint juleps are stronger than we think, so drink water in between alcoholic drinks.


Eric Wentworth
Owner of the Hub and the Champagnery

Eric Wentworth with Teague DeLong.

Leading up to Derby, I:

Get eight hours of sleep.

Do efficient workouts – spinning, circuit, etc.

Do meal prep that week.

Do not eat sugar.

During Derby, I:

Do a quick workout, like a Tabata using cardio and weight bearing exercises, the day of.

Try to eat every three hours.

Make wise champagne choices. Dry champagnes typically contain less sugar than most other kinds of wine, but there is also a type of sparkling called “no dosage” or “brut nature,” which have effectively zero sugar.


Laura Melillo Barnum, center, with Cheri Collis White, Jill Woods, Laura Wagner and Suzi Preston.

Laura Melillo Barnum
Founder of Melillo Media Strategies and Former Vice President of Community Investment at Yum! Brands

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, and include valuable electrolytes as well. Alcohol can result in dehydration, which can cause headaches, lethargy and, God forbid, it can affect your skin as well. The old standby for those in the know includes Pedialyte powder packets added to a bottle
of water.

Protein, protein, protein. Keep your body super-charged with accessible protein (and I’m not talking about the olives in your dirty martini!). Take some healthy snacks packed with protein – your favorite nuts, a homemade protein bar or maybe even some apple slices with your favorite nut butter.

Goody’s Powder. If you do overindulge the night before, good Southerners always add a Goody’s powder to their liquid of choice to start the day. It has a little kick of caffeine along with required pain relievers.

Beyond that, I try to have a day or two of juicing and/or smoothies leading up to Derby. I keep my workouts early and often – especially the HITT (high-intensity interval training) – ones that keep you energized and burning calories when you have to indulge in that piece of Derby pie a la mode.


Faith Hope Yascone.

Faith Hope Yascone
SAG Actor/Stylist and Co-Owner of Frankfort Avenue Coachhouse

Leading up to Derby, I:

Get a trainer.

Walk for an hour a day – 30 minutes one way and 30 minutes back.

Drink only water. If you must drink alcohol, choose prosecco or club soda and vodka (stick with clear liquors) with tons of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Do you not eat after 7 p.m.

Eat lean proteins.

During Derby, I:

Plan a quick breakfast every day.

Do light cardio and quick bodyweight training to show off my muscle.