As a clarification to my post about my experience being quite a bit different from the 80/20 Diet to Exercise ratio that is so pervasive throughout the internet. I suggested that my experience tends to be 30/70 the other way… I truthfully feel I should clarify a few things because of one comment in particular – and to all of you who left comments on that post, by the way, thank you. This post is much like the original. I don’t use pretty language and I don’t leave room for excuses. If you’ve got a good one that works for you, you need not read any further. You just may be beyond help. On second thought, check it out, what have you got to lose?
The word diet is a bit of a funny thing, it is defined thusly: “The kinds of food that a person, animal, or community habitually eats”.
Well folks, that encompasses a lot. You’ve got your normal folks, you’ve got your sugar addicts, you’ve got you paleo dieters, you’ve got your vegetarians… And there are a dozen different subsets of vegetarians for crying out loud. The main point here is this: My diet is only 30% of the equation because, all things being fair, it’s quite decent and the intake matches my fitness perfectly. I haven’t fluctuated more than a few tenths of a pound, week to week, in months. And that’s the goal folks, that’s the idea… I’m at a comfortable place where my weight is in balance with the food I eat and the amount I exercise I can fit in. Getting that balance took some effort though – it’s not as if I can just ingest whatever floats my boat at a given moment in time. Even with 600+ miles a month there’s sacrifice.
I have a list of the fun items in my diet, and can show what it takes, specifically, to be able to: Drink a Coke once or twice a week, have a few pieces of candy once a week, stop for fast food once a week for lunch, one night for dinner and eat pizza on another night in the week (which is a fair amount of crap if I do say so myself, but it’s really not that much in the scheme of things)… What does it take? Please keep in mind, I need the pizza and fast food just to maintain my weight, I’ve done the math and it’s the easiest way I know to load up on some extra calories so I don’t end up at 145 pounds… Everything but the Coke – sue me for imbibing a guilty pleasure or two.
Let’s see, in March I weighed 162.5 pounds and I burned 23,496 calories between riding and running. In April that shot up to 28,471 and my weight started dropping. In May I burned 34,317 calories and in June I was all the way up to 35,616 – that’s an average of more than 1,000 calories a day my weight dropped precipitously to around 150 – too light for my liking – so I had to start eating more and managed over the next month to put 5 more back on – and that’s exactly where I want to be (I opted to double the fast food intake per sitting because it’s easy calories – you’ve gotta eat a lot of spinach to put on 5 extra pounds when you’re burning 30,000+ a month). For July I had a bit of a slow month and dropped down to 26,858 (and adjusted my diet accordingly) but then I jumped back up in August to 37,066 and 36,380 for September.
Translated to action that equates to a 20 mile bike ride every day, seven days a week, with one day off a month. Think about that the next time you pull into the donut shop on your way to work, or the next time you order that super sweet mocha coffee with whipped cream, sprinkles and God knows what else in it. Let’s say you drink a liter of Coke a day – what’s that? A couple of 20 ouncer’s? Over the week that’s about 4,000 calories. Over a 30 day month, that’s 17,000 extra calories that either has to be burned or goes straight to the gut… And that’s just soda! The point is, I actually average more than 20 miles a day in a month and I can’t eat like that.
Let’s take that a step further though and translate that “couple of Coke’s a day” into action: 10 miles on a bike a day, at 20 mph, every day of the week, every week of the month…with one single solitary day off in the month. Just to burn off “a couple of Cokes”. I burn 36,000 calories a month folks, and I still can’t drink “a couple of Cokes” a day because as good as it may taste, it’s crap calories.
Now, I’ve used the arguments before so I know how many of them go… “But I don’t eat all that much food, I probably don’t eat that enough to make up the difference”, yada, yada, yada… If that really were the case, you wouldn’t be blaming the fact that you have to lean forward to see your shoes on the fact that you’re getting older and “the metabolism just slows down when you’re over 35”. Bullshit it does, my metabolism will kick your metabolism’s ass, our metabolism slows down when we slow down (to an extent, of course, and when it really does, adjustments must be made). We get fat for one of three reasons (or any combination of the three) – First, we eat too damned much food (good or bad). Second, we eat enough good food and then cap that off with a bunch of extra crap and soda. Or third, we stop moving. And that is the purpose of this addendum. My last sentence in the aforementioned post was, “We can all head down to the donut shop and tell each other lies about why we’re fat and have a grand old time.” When we’re overweight, we do lie – to ourselves and others – about why we’re there. Oh, it’s the genes or the metabolism or the weather… It’s too hot, it’s too cold, it’s too perfect… There’s not enough time…Blah, blah, blah. Every time I hear the excuses, I think of Charlie Brown’s teacher, because that’s about all they’re worth.
In all of my years I’ve only ever heard one good non-excuse: “I’m gonna die a fat man”. One sentence, no excuses and no bullshit.
For anyone with a weight problem I recommend doing exactly what I did: Stand naked in front of a mirror and say aloud, “I’m going to get (or stay) fat”. If that doesn’t shock you into action, try it again tomorrow, and the next day. Keep on it until you’re sick of hearing yourself say it, when you’ve had enough, do something about it. I only lasted one day… But I was there nonetheless.
So I has big plans to take it easy yesterday, say a 17 mph average over my normal 16 miles for a nice recovery ride after Saturday’s bonk. I did manage to do that for about a tenth of a mile. After about 15 seconds I grew a little uptight about the fact that I gave up on Saturday. It just wasn’t sitting well even if it was an epic bonk that had me panting “no mas”. All at once all of the mileage that I put in this season didn’t matter – because I quit. I didn’t fight it very hard, I just got on my horse.
My first mile was my slowest, excluding stops by lights and even a train. I’ve resigned to the fact that Endomondo’s auto-pause is just going to suck. In any event, the important part was that I gave myself an attitude adjustment that was sorely needed. I’ve grown to like the easy days just a little too much lately so I decided it was about time I fell back in love with the hard work.
I also learned something today about how I ride when I’m pushing. The reason for paying attention is an incredibly bad kink in my neck. I’ve got an appointment set up for Thursday afternoon with my doctor to get a handle on it. I have an idea about what’s up, but I’m waiting for the professional opinion before I write about it… The important thing that I can comment on ahead of time, is that I squeeze the hood with my right hand, specifically my middle finger, when I’m pushing hard to wind my cadence up. I do this subconsciously to keep from favoring my dominant left leg in my pedal stroke. Over time, say 45 miles of a 90+ mile ride the tension really builds up… The idea, of course, is to be loose on the bars and because I’m tight, that tightness travels all the way up my arm, to my shoulder and into my neck. When I started out yesterday my neck had been tight much of the day but felt quite a bit better than on Saturday. By the 9th mile consistently above 20 mph, I noticed that stabbing pain in my right shoulder fire up again, so I tried to trace that down…to that middle finger that was locked on that hood so I could get just a little bit more out of my right leg. I went back to that well three more times over the next four miles, and sure enough, the pain flared back to life. The looser I was, the better I felt. I can tell you, that’s going to be a hard habit to break, but I’ll obviously have to. I don’t think that’s all of the problem, but it’s a big piece.
After a smattering of stop signs, red lights and a train I ended up with a 19.2 mph average. Actual would have been a shade over 20, maybe 20.2. In the end, the push was more important than the final figure, it was getting out of that comfortable zone where I’m moving, but not really working as hard as I could. I really needed that.
Now, for me there’s a trick to this… I’ve been putting in some huge miles and I’ve been using that to justify relaxing on the shorter rides. I suppose in the end there should be some kind of balance, but I change from month to month (and sometimes week to week) with what I want to do with cycling… Most times I like the speed, but up until Saturday I’d been better at the endurance so I tended to favor that to the detriment of speed workouts – I’m beginning to think the two are connected – in other words, I was good at the endurance because I worked hard on speed. Time will tell.
As for the kink in my neck, that’s really got me nervous. It could be from gripping the bars too tight, but it could also be from putting in so many miles and craning my neck to see down the road. If it’s the latter, that’s where I’ve got a problem… And there is that distinct possibility. When I was fitted for my new pedals, Matt raised my saddle to accommodate the higher rise on the cleat. If it was too much, that could be causing the pain. The problem is that I like it where it is right now, in relation to the bars – I can ride comfortably in the drops, and even on the hoods my head and back are quite low which presents a decent aerodynamic posture for someone of my age and flexibility. The only fix would be to raise the stem and bar and I’m just not willing to do that – yet.