The Weight Loss Battle

BlountOnBikingGuest blogger Don Blount is serious about dropping some poundage.

WEIGHT_04-15-13One hundred ninety-six pounds (89 kilograms). That is what the scale showed as my weight on April 15, the morning I went in to see my doctor for a troublesome right shoulder. I mentioned previously that my doctor is also a cyclist. For him, the longer a ride is and the more climbing it has, the better. My doctor, who is in his mid-50s, weighs 136 pounds (62 kilos). I kid him that he is the size of a seventh-grade boy.

And each time I see him we discuss my riding, climbing and eventually my weight. And I always pledge to lose some. And I do. I have lost as much as five pounds. The only problem is I usually to gain it back.

I watch what I eat. I eat no red meat, only poultry and fish. And I don’t snack between meals. But it seemed that no matter how hard I tried I could not lose a significant amount of weight or keep it off. So I was kind of resigned to remaining in that low-to-mid 190 pound (86 kilo) range.

That is until that doctor’s visit. For some reason I left vowing to lose weight and to keep it off. Maybe it was because I was tired of struggling up hills. Maybe it was because I was tired of my little doctor chiding me. I don’t really know.

During the first two weeks I lost four pounds. I was pleased and prepared for the long, hard slog.

Then a friend, a former work colleague, announced that he had lost 74 pounds (33.5 kilos) over two years. When I asked him how he said: “Just what you used to always tell me, diet and exercise. There are no shortcuts.”

And as a throwaway line he mentioned that he also used myfitnesspal, a calorie-counting app. He suggested I check it out.

And I did.

WEIGHT_07-31-13One hundred seventy-eight pounds (81 kilos). That is what my scale showed on July 31. A weight loss thus far of 18 pounds (8.2 kilos).

What did I do differently? In short, I used the calorie-counting app to see exactly what I was eating. Quite frankly, I had no idea of the calorie content of some of the foods I ate. And although I worked out regularly, I often ate more calories than I burned. (Let me know if you want more detail and I will send it to you.)

And although these calorie counts are only estimates, they served as a good guideline for me to follow what I ate. For me, it became a daily goal – Win the day. To burn more calories than I consumed. It later became a guideline. Eat 2,000-2,500 calories a day and be active.

I made sure to consistently go to the gym and to consistently ride my bike.

From April 15 to July 31 I rode 1,802 miles (2,900 kilometers). That is 460 miles (740 kilometers) more than I rode during that same period last year.

I rode 505 miles (813 kilometers) in May, 543 miles (874 kilometers) in June and more than 573 miles (922 kilometers) in July.

Weighing less is better both in everyday life and for biking. I now look forward to rides I would not have considered just a year ago. (And don’t tell the hills but I no longer consider them evil, at least most of them.)

And although I am not yet at my final goal I am already thinking of how to stay at this smaller size.

As my doctor says: What comes off, stays off.

Rethinking Biking

If insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results, I guess it’s time for me to make some changes. Specifically, I’m taking a serious look at taking a hiatus from weekly club rides.

Two weeks ago, I was left behind by the rest of the B’s, and not by just a little. Today, I was the only B to show up for the Sunday ride, and they dropped me within three miles. I had already alerted the club president that I would be turning around before the rest of the group, so that wasn’t a problem. I wound up soloing on a route of my own choosing. But if I’m going to spend most of my Sundays riding alone, why bother with the club?

The main reason is, the club ride is my long ride of the week. It’s also the fastest I ride during the week. Even though I’m left behind, I push myself to try to stay close. If I ride alone, I don’t push it.

That’s largely because of my aversion to training. But if I’m going to get back to the point where I can at least acquit myself as an average B-level rider, I’ll have to train.

But it’s one thing to say I have to train — and even to start some kind of training regimen. I must stick with it. That’s where I’ve fallen down in the past. I’ll do intervals on a certain day two weeks in a row, then I’ll stop. If I’m riding alone, it’s easy for me to turnaround early, and turn that planned 58-miler into a 45-mile ride. Frankly, 45 miles would be pretty good for me these days.

Today, I got an added incentive to whip myself into biking shape. My wife and I are planning a European vacation next summer, and this morning she decided that it would be fun to spend part of it on bikes — as part of an organized bike tour. A great idea, I think. She’s already started her own brand of training for it — she found a new Pilates studio. I’ll just be more diligent about my riding.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress in the coming months.

 

Time to Drop Some Poundage

Today’s club ride went out on the Fitzhugh route again. I say again, because we just did it two weeks ago, and we don’t usually repeat a route so soon. But after yesterday’s rain, the weather forecast called for stiff wind from the northwest, so our club president suggested a route that would give us a tailwind on the way home.

I felt good about riding Fitzhugh. Last time, I had little trouble with the rollers that characterize the route, and felt strong for most of the ride. But with only one other B rider showing up, in a group of 24, I figured I’d be hard-pressed to keep the peloton in sight.

We did a good job of sticking with the group until we got into Granada Hills, a neighborhood about three or four miles from the start. As its name implies, it’s not flat. Pretty soon, I saw the last of the pack rounding a corner at the top of a hill and disappearing. By the time Brian (the other B rider) and I got to the intersection with U.S. 290 that marks the end of Granada Hills, they had lost us completely.

That was okay. Fitzhugh is an out-and-back route, and I knew we would meet up with them again as they were on their return leg. But I was a bit concerned about my riding today. I didn’t anywhere near the pep I had the last time, and it was a struggle for me to top the rollers.

We made it out to the intersection of Ranch Road 12, which is the traditional turnaround for B riders. I’ve gone beyond before, and rode out to the A turnaround, but didn’t feel like it today. I was tiring already, and we had to battle the rollers on the way back. On top of it, a light mist was coating our glasses, and it looked like we would be contending with wet conditions on the way back.

Brian and I took turns in the lead on the way back. I was well warmed up by now, even though the temperature was falling, if anything. I found it a little easier to pull myself up the hills. But when we got to the gas station at Fitzhugh and 290, I was glad to stop a bit.

In a couple of minutes, another of our group pulled in. New York John doesn’t like to ride in the rain, and he turned back before the rest of the A group. We set off for home.

John took the lead most of the way. He’s smaller than me, and his bike is lighter. While he pedaled at a good pace, it wasn’t too fast for Brian and I to keep up with. But on one slight uphill stretch, John easily cruised well ahead of us.

Brian has an excuse. He works on offshore oil rigs, and doesn’t get a chance to ride regularly. “When I’m home, I ride every day,” he said. “But it seems like I can’t get any better. I’ve got my pace, and that’s it.”

I, on the other hand, do have a regular riding routine. I haven’t been getting better either, but today bothered me. I just didn’t have the energy to keep up with John. And I had to confront the unhappy reason for that. I’m overweight.

Right now, my weight is more than it’s been all summer.  It’s clear that I finally have to do something about it, because I know from experience that if I were to drop just 10 pounds, I’d be riding better.

So that’s what I’m going to work on. I want to drop 20 pounds by the end of the year. It’ll be difficult, but I think I can do it. I promise I won’t turn this into a weight loss blog, but I will let you know from time to time how I’m doing.