Sunday, December 07, 2014

Training - Weight Loss Stuff

Back in 2009-2010 I embarked on a weight loss program that resulted in a March 2009 -> March 2010 weight loss of about 40 pounds. I dropped from about 190-200 lbs (between 2004 and 2009 if I hit 200 lbs I'd start thinking I "really need to ride a bit") to 155-158 lbs.

Forty pounds.

That's more than a completely full 20 pound LP tank for a grill.

It's the weight of two reasonably light road bikes.

It's 40 one pound packages of ground beef.

It's 20 packages of the two pound family pack of chicken parts.

It's a whole lotta weight.

The weight loss absolutely changed my racing.

At Bethel, at my new weight, on the non-aggressive laps, I often dragged the brakes to keep my speed in check. Instead of doing 400-800w to get up the hill, I was doing 300-500w, even with the brake dragging.

On the fast laps I could ride through the field and off the front.

My sustained power was still suspect, as that seems to be an overall genetic limitation of mine, but I had so much reserves, due to the low weight, that I seemed to have much more power.

(The reality is that with my weight loss my FTP dropped a solid 10%, my max sprint power dropped 200-300w, but the lighter weight more than made up for it. The only place I lost out was on descents - missing 40 pounds of mass really slowed me down on fast descents. I found myself frantically sprinting down hills trying to stay with riders I normally rocketed past on the same hill.)

After a solid season of racing I upgraded to Cat 2. I'd never been a 2 and it'd been a goal of mine for 25 years, so I took the opportunity and upgraded. One thing I didn't reveal at the time was that we'd decided to start a family. My thought was that I may never get the chance to upgrade again.

Then, in order to eliminate any temptation (I didn't want to distract myself from the family thing), I purposely gave myself zero goals for 2011. Without goals I had no motivation, and without motivation I didn't even do a lot of my JRA ("just riding along") rides.

2011 was less than successful in two ways. First, as a result of having zero goals I really had no fitness and therefore I had no real results. Second, the family never started per se, and my zero goal season ended up a "season pas", a season without. I downgraded back to Cat 3 sometime in 2011.

Of course Junior arrived in 2012 and then my priorities changed. I was glad that I took that Cat 2 upgrade because for a while, even now, training and racing enough to earn the upgrade again seemed highly unlikely, at least if I wanted to be a good dad and husband.

Fast forward to 2014 and I had gained back a good half of that 40 pound loss. I didn't train much for a couple years, doing in a month what most races do in a week. I prefer to spend time with Junior than on the bike so a nice Saturday afternoon means, to me, an hour or two at the playground, not an hour or two on the bike.

My results suffered accordingly. I could win field sprints, which is sort of normal, but in straight out Cat 3 races I really struggled just to finish races. When the field collectively dropped the hammer I was usually one of the first ones spit out the back.

Racing is fun, but getting shelled 4 or 5 minutes into a race isn't fun.

I don't foresee suddenly having a ton of time to train, but I can see myself losing weight. As a teammate so astutely pointed out, I don't need time to diet. I need time to train.

So, three weeks ago, I started on a diet sort of like the one I went on in Oct of 2009. It's calorie centric, focused on sacrificing everything to lose weight. My thought is that I can adjust my diet after, but I know I won't spend a ton of time researching and preparing foods. I am also trying to avoid diet foods, except one or two here and there (non-fat Greek yogurt for example). No artificial sweeteners, just judiciously picked foods.

And the weight started to come off.

My diet isn't complicated, and it's probably not ideal, but it works for me. I need the following from a diet:
1. Not much food prep. I prefer not to spend a lot of time preparing food. To me 5 minutes is a lot of time.
2. Easy to log foods, meaning I'm not eating 10 or 15 little things at a time. I prefer a meal to have three or four "things" that I log. I use MyFitnessPal to track food. I have a smartphone so I can log food even when we're out.
3. I need stuff that makes me feel relatively full.
4. Beyond a basic set of tastes I don't care what I eat.
5. I learned that I don't really need (or want) sugar.

When I first started the diet I remembered a few things.
1. The first few days really, really suck. I was literally shaking with hunger sometimes (bonking? maybe coming off of a sugar thing?)
2. Once I got past the first few days I could go a while while hungry and not mind.
3. I tend to be aggressive with calories for a few days (1000-1400 cal) then have a bad day (1800-1900 cal). This is okay since overall my caloric intake is much lower.
4. Not having sugar sugar, like in my coffee etc, really levels out my energy levels.

The first week of the diet sort of taught me what I forgot about dieting, it sort of set a new baseline for my body, and it readjusted my internal energy level.

I definitely noticed a solid drop in energy, which is only natural when my calorie intake got cut by a good 30-50%. My hands and feet were pretty consistently cold, but I didn't mind. I still warm up as soon as I get moving, so doing the slow trot-jog next to Junior for an hour is doable.

I'm best when I make a set of meals. I have two current "routines" - oatmeal or a chicken/rice thing. The oatmeal is really filling - a cup of oatmeal (uncooked), a quarter cup raisins, a tablespoon of almond slices, and a tablespoon of brown sugar. Add a bunch of water, microwave, done. It takes me 10 minutes from start to finish, meaning until the bowl is clean in the sink. I usually have this once a day, sometimes twice. Sometimes I do 3/4 cup instead of a full cup, but I learned the hard way that I get hungry much earlier with the slightly smaller meal.

(And as an aside that exact one cup oatmeal thing fueled me today from 6:30 AM, which is when I finished the oatmeal, to 3:30 PM, when I got home from working an event. I had two little paper cups of black coffee during that time.)

The chicken is sort of similar. I cook the chicken in batches (last batch was 1.75 lbs of boneless and skinless chicken breast), I know about the serving size, and I add rice that I've cooked and divided into separate containers. It takes about 4 minutes to get something to eat and 2:30 of those 4 minutes is the microwave heating up the food. It's easy to log since I eat the same chicken/rice meal typically twice a day.

I'm like my dad in that I can eat the same food over and over again. At home I've had either the oatmeal or the chicken for most of my meals over the 2+ weeks we've been home. I totally don't mind. When we're out then I try to figure out good things, typically things that I understand/know, like 100g of chicken, etc. For Thanksgiving we went to my dad's and I carefully doled out, on a scale, 100g of turkey here and there.

I also have turned to black coffee. Those that know me know that I like my sugar with a little coffee and cream so it's a huge change. However, with my weight loss goal in mind, black coffee is perfectly acceptable. I drink less of it, fine, but it's no longer the calorie bomb I usually have. I also don't have the rapid up/down thing that comes with a couple teaspoons of sugar (used to be a couple tablespoons per mug).

How is the diet so far?

I started at 179 lbs, in mid-November (Nov 17 to be precise). I've been at 170 for two days so that's pretty consistent for my current weight. I typically drop, plateau, drop, plateau. My goal is to get under 160, and into the low/mid-150s if possible.

In terms of health at 179 I'm probably, realistically, at about 28-30% fat, meaning I'm in the obese range. My lean body weight is probably in the 127-130 pound range.

This means that at 170 I'm more like 25%. At 160 I should be about 20%. At 150 15%. 140 lbs would be 10%, which is about when I'd be pretty skinny. In 2010 I saw a few 149 lbs reading but I was too weak and ended up gaining a bit of weight.

There's an image here that has some good pictures illustrating the different levels of body fat in men. The images seem pretty close to what my weight/fat% I outlined above. I am between the 30% and 25% right now.

I think 150 lbs would be very hard to hit, 140 lbs pretty impossible in my current life, but 155 lbs should be okay. It's still a bit away but I'd like to get there.

Today? 1365 calories, realistically pretty accurate. 170.7 lbs this morning, up just a touch, but I had an off day yesterday calorie-wise, and I was "off cycle" if you will.

With the pressure of the event off I hope to have some more time to ride a bit to reduce the net calories for each day.

Some more inspirational pictures:

Not a winning sprint but still a good one, Bethel in 2010.
My sprint came around in the last few weeks of that Series.
Photo by Corey Lynn Tucker.

155 lbs and pulling the A race at the Rent, 2010.
Photo by RTC I think.

155 lbs and off the front at the Keith Berger Crit in East Hartford, 2010.
I don't remember who took this.

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