Stick With What Works: Lessons Learned
Looking back at the this blog over the years, it seems that I've talked quite a bit about weight loss, weight gain, etc., I know that this comes from A. Spending the ages of 10 through 21 extremely overweight and being miserable and hating life and B. Losing the weight and falling in love mountain biking and racing, a sport that doesn't discriminate whether you are fat or skinny, hell there's even a Clydesdale class at most races, but it's sure easier when you are lighter. So gaining and losing weight has never been far from my mind since the age of 10.
For most of my true adult life (ages 21 and through 40) I have been skinny and it's been easy to be skinny. Then about 2009 I started gaining weight. A pound here, a few pounds there, and before I knew it 30 pounds has been added to my frame. The clothes still fit (although a bit more snug than in the past), and by American standards I AM still thought of as skinny (that is a sad reflection on our modern culture and current obesity rates). By bike racer standards and MY standards I am a now a Clydesdale. Not by much, but one nonetheless. I am not happy.
Some of the issues came with some medicine that I have had to take over the past few years, but most of it was my own fault. The stress of trying to run the magazine on my own, being a good husband, good father, working, riding and being by myself most of the day lead me to find happiness at the end of the day in making more comfort foods higher in fat and calories than I ever have (Jesus, I started buying bacon! BACON!!) as well as drinking way too much beer. The last time I found myself drinking too much beer was back in 2000 right after my mom died in December of 1999.
Over the past year or so I have experimented with going back to being a part time vegetarian, to trying the Paleo diet, to trying to eat high protein, good fats, and low carbs and none of it has worked. My metabolism just doesn't not work well with high fat food, even when it's "good fat." Wifey has recently had success with the low carb thing and has dropped about 10 pounds in just a couple weeks. I tend to just stay the same or gain weight when I do that.
So I am sticking with what works.
What works for ME is keeping track of calories and nutrients on TheDailyPlate.com (now A.K.A. Livestrong.com), cutting way back on fat (bacon, cheese, red meat), eating good carbohydrates (whole grains, fruits, vegetables), leaner meats (turkey and chicken breast) limiting red meats and having alcohol as a treat on the weekend. This is "normal" for me and combined with the amount of riding I do (6 to 12 hours a week) results in weight loss and added fitness. 50% of the time, it works every time. I joke, this always works for me.
Even though this lifestyle works for me, I am not without questions:
#1 How the hell does a medicine prevent weight loss? I mean if you take in 2100 calories a day (to survive) and ride 2 hours plus burning 2000+ calories, how do you NOT lose weight? The body is no doubt burning the calories, even if the metabolism process is slowed in some way by a medicine, why does the simple math of burning more than you are taking in not apply? What is the body running on if not calories (no matter WHAT the source)?? Strange.
#2 What is it about my metabolism vs. others that allows me to eat a diet that is about 60% carbohydrates and lose weight, but if I cut the carbs out and eat a good fat and protein (Paleo like) I gain weight? Again I say-- strange.
I know that one reason this works for me is that using the Daily Plate helps me keep track of portions and calorie intake and that is key for a food lover like me. Earlier this week I made up packet of meats in 1 serving packets (example: 4 oz. of lean ground turkey) and chucked them in the freezer to use as needed. Now I know the exact amount I'm taking in. Not saying I don't eat 2 servings with some recipes, but seeing what 2 servings is compared to what I thought was a serving is eye opening. I also measure out my pasta and rice servings so as not to make more than I need, 'cause I'm the type that if it's there I WILL eat it. Does it take a few extra minutes? Yeah, but not THAT much extra time and I feel it's worth it for me.
I am amazed at how easy it is to get off track with eating (cheese, bacon, sausage, etc.,....BACON???) well and drinking too much ("oh yeah, it's Tuesday! Time for some beers!" Followed by "Oh yeah, it's Thursday... Friday... Saturday... Sunday....). I was shocked when I went back and looked at some old dietary files from way back in 2007 and saw that I have slowly gained 30 pounds since 2007. YIKES!!!
It feels good to be back and doing what I know works for me and to the routine of this sort of eating and drinking. It feels good to be in control and knowing that I have less than 30 pound to lose to get where I want to be, and that is better than having the 130 pounds to lose when I was 21. Online estimates show that I should be where I want to be by February or March. Sweet, just in time for the 2012 race season!