Monday, March 8, 2010

Week Six: The John Nelson Weight Loss Challenge

More success for John this week! And, for us pledgees, impoverishment (It's not too late to let John steal your money and give it to WWP! See here for details). John's lost a total of 21 pounds so far, which means we've raised $420 for the Wounded Warrior Project. Here's this week's report:
Slowly but surely the weight is coming off. Not as fast as I’d like. But, if I’m going to do it, I’d rather it be a manageable, healthy loss of pounds, rather than a crash diet that will only yo-yo back up once I resume “normal’ eating habits. To end the suspense early, I’ve lost another 4-5 pounds, making my scale read 309. Just nine pounds to go for my goal of 300 by April, and then 290-285 by May 1st. So far so good!

I felt a bit of the change in my ride yesterday. I rode in southern Maryland around Ft. Washington where there were some hills ranging from 10 to 20% grade, according to the Garmin. I didn’t stop on any of them and actually didn’t stop for the almost 60 miles, except at lights and stops signs. Be it the glory of the first ride of the season, or a drop in 20 pounds, additional strength, or knowing I’ll have to climb Sierra Nevada mountains in late May, I think this diet regimen is working nicely.

Kevin tells me that some of the guys on the team are trying to lose weight too, joining me on this quest. I'm proud to be there with ya fellas. I promised to tell you what I'm doing and ask for some additional hints about what I can do. So here it is.

Basically, I’m following no specified diet, or ALL of them. The common concept behind every logical diet is the calories in versus calories out principle. Please tell me if I’m wrong here, but… No matter if you are on Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem, Atkins or the grapefruit only diet, if you cut back on eating, exercise more than the amount you are eating, you’ll lose weight. Even those who have surgery or join the Biggest Loser on television, the point to losing weight is to burn more than you are taking in. So that is where I started.

I figured that I was eating too much at breakfast, lunch and dinner. I could easily cut back there. Instead of having 15 ounces of rice, I’d have 10 or 5. Instead of eating the whole piece of steak, cut it in half or 3/4th and eat the rest later for for breakfast the next day. Milk has tons of calories and some healing protein, but the bad outweighed (pun intended) the good here. I can get my protein from other sources than the fatty, calorie-full milk products. Instead of eating a big lunch from the cafeteria, a sandwich would do. Or some bare, no sauced chicken wings. Point is, I consciously cut down on the portions that I ate; eating only enough to sustain my nutritional needs, and saving the rest for later.

To alleviate the need for nutrition and vitamin intake, I take a Centrum vitamin each day. That takes care of most of the needs from a vitamin and mineral standpoint. There are 100% of your needs in every pill, though artificially gained. Taking a super vitamin with 1000% of the items you need, what is the point of that? Your body can only absorb so much. The rest gets shoved out through the kidney. Ever have that bright yellow ‘stain’ in the toilet bowl? That is the $50 in vitamins you bought at UberMuscle store. No one can absorb that much. If you eat good foods and take a Centrum, you’ll get what you need.

And you won’t have glow-in-the-dark pee.

Speaking of peeing it out, above all else, I quit drinking sodas…even the diet sodas. They fool your body into thinking that you have a repeated source of complex sugar so you can store the energy. This is my theory, developed from some reading and advice. If the body gets the signal that you are getting an ample supply of sugars (from the artificial sweetener), it may be telling the body to store the carbs instead of turning it into simple sugars to burn. Drinking simple sugars (carbs) in fruit juices gives the signal that there are simple carbs to burn off, so do something, quick! So you burn it off in the next workout (or by leg twitches) instead of storing it as excess. The result of the complex or artificial sugar signal is fat building up instead of being used right away. Better yet, just drink water and tell the body to use the fat stores to convert to sugar that it can use, making the deficit in the fat stores. You’ll get the urges to drink the Diet soda or the juice. But, think of the long-term gain, rather than the instant pleasure of a minor sugar rush. Just a layman’s theory, so don’t get excited.

The next means I've become used to not snacking. But if you do, it is an apple. Eat a Delicious apple that is crunchy and hard (the greener, the better). Or a hand full of peanuts or something to chew on to give you the sensation that you’ve eaten something. Something that your teeth grind into, saliva has to form, and there is a distinct feeling of swallowing something. The little 100 calorie packs of muffins or pretzels just don’t cut it. They lack nutrition, size, and melt easily into your stomach, giving it nothing to do. If your stomach doesn’t have anything to do, your brain summons more for you to eat, to give it a job. Otherwise, it tends to try to eat itself. So I fill it at meals with substantial meals like fibrous veggies and protein, and snack on something that will take time to break down. If you are feeling hungry, grab something to kill the hunger. Not something “to eat”. Nutrition isn’t the need. It is just stomach boredom.

On the exercise front, some of you who know me have seen the workouts that I’ve done in the past. They aren’t typical for a 300+ guy. I’ve run miles. I’ve biked hundreds of miles. I’ve swum leagues. I can bench 200 easily. I can keep up with 25 year olds in a 100 yard sprint. And yes, I can work out with the best of them. But still, I’ve been 300+ most of my adult life. So what is happening now to make me drop some excess?

I’ve changed what I’m good at.

I used to be able to get on a bike and ride 100 and drop 10 pounds easy. Then I’d drink a glass of water and (floomp) ten pounds came back. My body was used to pushing out the miles and they have adapted to the work. I’ve grown long strand muscles to maintain the endurance. I’ve inflated the size of my heart, my lungs, and the padding of my seat. I’ve gotten used to spinning my legs forward in a circular motion.

The definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome. So, I changed my workout plan. I do weights, concentrating on the repetition rather than the size of the plate. I use the machines to concentrate on the larger muscles, targeting strength through endurance rather than strength through heavy lifting: working the muscle to burn out with high reps. And finally, I use the elliptical machine, not so much for leg work, but rather for the arm workout; sort of like boxing. The upper-body workout burns a lot of calories because it is muscles that we cyclists rarely use to exhaustion. So I’m using new muscles to burn calories with, rather than experienced muscles that know how to go “through the motions”, so to speak.

I’m not saying I’m an expert. If I was, I wouldn’t be fat and you potentially would not be donating to Wounded Warriors. I also don’t know if the suggestions above actually work or not. Nor do I know if they re actually contributing to the diet or if it's just the public aspect of this that is shedding the pounds off because I don’t want my ego bruised next time I see Kevin on a ride. Nevertheless, I said I’d put out there what I’ve been doing to go from +330 to -310 (not spectacular, but a loss nonetheless).

On the other side of the coin, some of you have also been successful. What have you been doing? Someone suggested the kettle ball workout. It melds in with what I talked about earlier with doing something different. Someone suggested Hoodia for appetite suppression. As cyclists, we should learn to block out urges, pain, and simpler ways out, so I’m using that thought as a motivator to not eat when I’m not supposed to eat, instead of the artificial requirement. Others have suggested that I ride with them, faster and longer than I have. That sounds simple enough, but I usually get dropped after about 15 miles at the speeds you crit riders haul at. I’m an endurance racer now. Speed for short periods of time isn’t my goal. It is long, endured rides over hundreds of miles, conserving energy to last, rather than expending it to go faster. A different mentality altogether, I figure. See Race Across America site for a different perspective on riding. Still, I would like to hear what has worked for you, what doesn’t work, and what you think might work for me.

See you all next week.

1 comment:

qualia said...

Freakin' awesome line you're plotting on that graph. Excellent advice too.