new tack

One of the changes that has come out of the last few months of upheaval is that I’ve been forced away from my routine. By itself this isn’t a good thing. I’ve kept track of what I’ve eaten and how much activity I’ve done each week with reasonable certainty since November 2006. With a little data cajoling, I could produce a number as to how many calories or grams of fat and fiber I’ve had since then. I’ve kept meticulous records of intake and activity and aside from maybe 3 days out of every year my records were 95% accurate. All that went out the window 2 weeks ago. The triple threat of terrible circumstances, overwhelming responsibilities and unfamiliar surroundings were enough to completely blow me out of the water. While back in PA I exercised a bit and spent a ton of time working around the house, but I ate what I wanted, where I wanted, when I wanted. 1 week of that was enough to erase 1½ YEAR’s worth of progress in a snap. Let me say it again for emphasis. 1 WEEK = 1½ YEARS. I like to look on the bright side, and the one good thing that has come out of it is that I had an excuse to just stop and spend my time reflecting a little bit instead. Here’s what I’ve learned:

I’ve known for a while that what I’ve been doing hasn’t been working. I’ve been steadily eating more even though I’m trying to eat less. Everything I have been eating is the wrong thing. I’ve been riding more, but not enough to compensate. Some of it is due to life, stress and circumstances, but not all. The only thing the obsessive-compulsive logging has been doing is documenting the spiral.

Valuable Information and Soul-Crushing Reality All Bound In One Convenient Package

A month or 2 ago I picked up this book on a lunch break walk to Barnes & Noble. I found a ton of good information about strength training, flexibility, cross training, different foods to eat, a little riding technique, bike fit, and interesting discussions of biomechanics. The bad came in the form of the detailed training matrices which were a sober reminder of the fact that I just haven’t been riding enough to make any kind of real progress. I’ve been fooling myself that my epic 5 mile round trip commute qualifies as ‘training’. Other activities are too sporadic as well.

I decided to keep the journal, but drop the digitized super-detailed information which will save me a few hours a week. Next I signed up at the gym where I work and bought some sessions with a personal trainer. The time has come to ask for second opinions about where to go and what to do next. I’ve been to one appointment for evaluation. Cardio looks good, and they set me up on a strength training program. It was great to learn a routine with proper technique, and I think I finally have the patience to stick with a meticulous regimen, but right now I’m about 36 hours out from my first session and most of my muscles feel like absolute crap. biceps – crap. chest – crap. quadriceps – crap. abs – double crap. I think I averaged just over 11 mph on my commute yesterday. The challenge is going to be how to work everything together. Unless the recovery period improves from strength training, I just can’t imagine doing extended cardio or cycling efforts on the off days. Because I need food to build muscle, I’m not going to try and restrict the amount I’m eating any more, but I HAVE to control food quality in a major way.

It’s not even about how I look. It’s not about any rewards I’ve set up for myself that I haven’t achieved yet. It’s all about not making any effing progress and being sick of it. That and I’m beyond done with hauling a full sized me up hills. I’m done with negative posts. I’m not sure if this new experiment is going to get me any closer and there are still a bunch of variables to work out, but one thing is for certain and that is it’s time to mix it up a bit.

10 thoughts on “new tack

  1. Dave,
    Aha! I guess summer of 2011 will be the season to get the untrained, trained. I’ve set myself up with a (moderately) butt-kicking 9 week training schedule to get ready for Deerfield Dirt Road Randonee. Perhaps a dual ride sometime? I’d be interested in how you’re approaching this.

    My only advice: never lose the fun of the ride.

    See ya on sunday.

    • Yes, looking forward to Sunday very much. Riding is still fun, I just think it would be more fun if I could do it better. Part of my prob is that I go from 2-5 mile commutes, to 10-15 mile weekend solo rides, to 100+ mile monthly rides – willfully neglecting the mid-length rides. The training schedules in the book had 2 and 3 hour sessions nearly every day of the week, and while that is more of a possibility now than it was 1 month ago for me, I still don’t see it as a reality. Any time you want a partner for a ride, let me know. I just need a few days notice for a while so I don’t do strength training the night before.

  2. Dave, First, the pain is normal for any new routine that is working your muscles in a way they are not accustomed. hang in there and they will adapt and strengthen. Second, Separate diet frm fitness. Unless you start doing uber high miles, you won’t burn off enough to really lose – that comes from eating right. Further, a high mileage diet will focus on carbs, which is what you want to avoid. It sounds like you’re on the right track, but don’t focus ony less on what you’re eating. Good luck.

    • Thanks for the advice, I’m dropping the ‘diet’ (defined as weight loss) for now – focusing solely on quality or nutrition. Part of my problem over the years is I’ve been going back and forth between eating less to lose weight, then feeling lousy b/c I can’t make it through the week riding even 45 min a day on 1200 cals. Many a night I’ve come home, stepped off the bike, sat down for 5 minutes and then had a severe bout of light-headedness when I went to stand up. Then I overeat on the weekends when I’m out of my routine with friends or family. Not healthy OR productive. I figure once I get used to the strength regimen, the muscle stiffness will go away. The pain doesn’t bother me so much – I just hate waiting through recovery.

  3. You might enjoy gary Taubes book: Why We Get Fat…. Its a quick read and makes a pretty good case for “it’s not how much we eat, but what we eat.”

  4. I haven’t read it, but i might now. Another good one is Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma. While not diet based, it does delve into how politics and agribusiness have shaped our plates over the last decades.

  5. Wish I had some words of wisdom, but your post could be my post. This weight thing is amazingly frustrating. I read the Taubes book and liked it, but it in some ways is so revolutionary that it’s hard to accept when so many of your other nutritional sources are going to disagree. Ultimately, stay away from the d*%m processed carbs. That stuff’ll kill you! Good luck and as a previous poster said, enjoy the ride.

    • Thanks, when I first heard of Taubes’ books, they sounded reminiscent of David Crowell’s post on sugar I saw last year. ( ). I have some relatives who have gluten allergies, and I’ve discussed diets with them many times. There are many similarities between the eating plans you have to follow since a large source of refined carbs in our diets come from baked goods or wheat products, and many of the processed foods that have gluten hiding in them also have carbs and other bad things lurking around. Short story is I pretty much know what I have to do, it’s just the act of reconciling that with every day life.

    • Thanks, I’m 3 or 4 weeks in right now and the recovery times are getting shorter. Next I’m looking for the mental boost of being able to appreciably ‘feel’ stronger on the bike.

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