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Daily Archives: March 8, 2012

The Much Dreaded Belly Fat

I subscribe to Peter’s Principles Newsletter.  All too often his suggestions are just a touch over my head.  I care about my health, sure, but some of his recommendations take on too much of a micromanaging look…  Eat this many grams of this, take that many milligrams of the other – Crime in Italy Chuck, I don’t have time for all of that (nor would I want to).  That said, he’s always got some really good advice about some important topics:

“There are more serious concerns about those extra inches around your waist than buttoning your jeans. Belly fat is not limited to the extra layer of padding known as subcutaneous fat, it also includes visceral fat. Visceral fat exists deep inside the abdomen and surrounds internal organs. An excessive amount of visceral fat produces hormones and other substances that can raise blood pressure, negatively alter good and bad cholesterol levels and damage the body’s ability to process insulin. It also increases the risks of breast cancer and colorectal cancer”.

Now I certainly didn’t know about all of those little nasty problems, but it’s fairly obvious; fat = bad.  So what if you went the American route and had that fat sucked out?

“Additionally, a study published in 2004  in The New England Journal of Medicine found that liposuction removal of subcutaneous fat on 15 obese patients had no effect on the levels of their blood sugar, blood pressure, response to insulin, or cholesterol levels, while weight loss through exercise and diet spurred positive health changes”.

Why am I not surprised…  In any event, this next little tidbit is what I really found interesting:

Watermelon. The University of Kentucky conducted a study where watermelon was found to have a significant effect on artery plaque deposition because it altered blood lipids and lowered the risk of developing belly fat”.

Perhaps one of the greatest suggestions I can offer the workout community is to enjoy watermelon after a workout.  If you’ve never had watermelon after a workout but like it, even a little bit, the next 80 degree day that you run or ride in, cut one up into four-bite sized chunks and have it waiting in the fridge for your return.  On finishing, before you even have time to wipe the sweat from your brow, dig in.  Our gang will go through a watermelon after a hot Saturday run.  I promise you, it’s manna from Heaven.  It’s so good, my buddy Dennis and I have had the exact same conversation every week after the second piece for the last ten years or so.  It goes like this:

Dennis:  Isn’t that good?

Jim:  Umhmmm.  (Wipes juice from face with forearm)

Dennis:  It’s like manna from Heaven

Jim:  Nom, nom, nom, nom…

Dennis:  Nom, nom, nom, nom…

Jim:  Man, that is so good.

Dennis:  This is what it’s all about.

Jim/Dennis:  Nom, nom, nom, nom…

Try it, you’ll like it.

Matching Up The Kit…

I stopped by the LBS yesterday against my better judgment and picked up a new road melon protector for training and the my .5 Ironman in September…  It was a bit of a celebration gift after landing a huge job yesterday and something that needed to be bought anyway – but perhaps the timing wasn’t the best.  In any event, I’m now so coordinated that it will make the cycling fashion police bow their heads in reverence.

Per the rules, I’ll be sticking with the black cycling shorts, but that’s where plain Jane sits her butt down.  My bike frame is red, and I use blue bar tape, my helmet matches the bar tape and my sunglasses match the frame.  My bottle cages are white and match my “Army Strong” bottle, which also has a yellow border around the letter boxes and the Army star.  The yellow matches my rims which are yellow and red (and match the bike frame), and my tires, Conti Gatorskins, have yellow lettering that match my rims and my H2O Bottle…  And the pièce de résistance:  A Louis Garneau Red White and Blue USA jersey.

I’ve always been a fan of a red white and blue theme (see my Cannondale as well), but I’m taking it to the next level this year.  It’s going to be awesome.

Let the honking commence!

Photos to follow when weather allows.

Paying Attention To What The Body Needs

An interesting thing happened to me this morning.  I woke up a little early because I’ve had some work I had to get to this morning and I fell asleep early last night (somewhere around 8:30).  On waking I nuked my coffee, same as any other day, and started watching the news.  After sitting there for about three minutes I realized I was absolutely famished.  This was a wee bit odd as I normally don’t get hungry until around 9 or 10 o’clock so I sat there for a while to see if the hunger pangs would subside.  After my second cup of coffee I shut off the news and started getting ready.  Standing there shaving I actually felt a little weak – my hunger wasn’t a fluke.  Now it wasn’t a drained feeling, just a very mild sense that “something is just a little off”.

Well it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out what’s going on.  In my post “How to eat skinny.  Shall we do the math?”  I wrote:  “The main point is that I’m within 200 calories of where I need to be, naturally and without any counting but this is where it gets tough…according to that calculation method [used to figure out how many calories I burn through just by being alive] I burn through 2,433 calories a day, but I move so I have to replace the calories used during exercise to maintain my weight (or not, to lose).  In other words, my basal (or base) metabolic rate is 2,433 but I run 7 miles on Saturday burning 884 calories and I spin 60 miles in a week for another 1,456 – I have to replace those also to maintain my weight”.  The math was done in the middle of winter when I was spinning off 340-360 calories a day and running twice a week (only once that week) for another 1,200 give or take.  But since the weather change, my weekly burn increased – I knocked down 360 in a spin on Monday but actually got out and rode 32 miles over the last two afternoons at 850 calories each.  I’ll be riding this afternoon (850), an active recovery ride tomorrow (600), running ten to twelve on Saturday (1,400) and another recovery ride on Sunday (600)…  In other words, I’m way over my norm and haven’t increased my food intake.  My body is telling me to get back to square.

Two years ago at this time I was looking in the mirror wondering how long it would take into the summer to lose the love handles (small as they were) – this year I’ve got to eat more to maintain my weight.  What an excellent problem to have – in fact, if this is the worst thing that I have to worry about today, I’ll be doing pretty well.