Saturday, May 10, 2014

Fat-hlete

Long time since I posted. Working at a young company is different. It’s vibrant and people are open possibility. For me it certainly helps with encouraging my goals of being a better… Fat-hlete?

Sorry? a what? A fat-hlete you say. It’s pretty self explanatory but it’s something that’s been on my mind as I try and achieve my weightloss goals and get ready for the triathlon season.

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The above calculator has told me I’m not just overweight, I’m obese. That word is dreaded, sickening, unmotivating, hateful, and depressing all at once. Honestly, I think I’d rather it say “fatty fatty fatty” as a technical term than “Obese”. It’s a word that is feels foul. And emotionally, it can be devastating to people. So while people say “You don’t look like you’re 220lbs” or “You carry it really well”… there is one place where not showing it doesn’t matter. When you do any endurance sport – especially on a hill.

Being from “The Rock” I’ve ridden hilly, windy, and winding roads. Newfoundland can be considered a tough place to bike. RDF means rain, drizzle, and fog which is a standard day. A low humidity day is 78%, a high is 99% and it’ll linger and not rain. A calm day is 20km/hr winds. A windy day (that I’ve biked in) is 60km/hr gusting at 80-90km/hr. And it gusts! It’s generally so tough that the Vikings couldn’t handle it and left. If they had been tougher North America would have been populated Vikings and the descendants of Leif Erison. I like to consider myself tough, and honestly not that bad on a hill. I can dig deep and find power power.

A rough calculation can show that 1kg of extra mass up a 100m climb with human body efficiency is an additional (m*g*h/0.05) => 5kcal of energy. So 10 of that is 50kcal. That means it takes just about one bag of M&M’s to climb 400m climb with an extra 10 kilo’s. The 5% efficiency is just a guess. I remember the 10% food chain transfer from high school, and assume like a car, you push hard, efficiency goes down.

Sounds great. If I don’t eat that bag of M&M’s I’m down 200kcal and bam 1/17.5 of a pound lost. It’s not that simple.

What works for me

 

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I don’t have too much recent data since I started logging again on a few weeks ago. However I used to log a lot and here is something really cool. Weight gain averages little more than 100kcal a day. In the recent “Unbalanced Job” I was trying to cycle, run, and eat right but I missed too may rides and runs and I ate out too much and seldom do a restaurant have any really good options. If stressed I’d hit a Starbucks for a mocha, then an mocha + a snack, then it’d be twice a day. The company also ditched the semi healthy cafeteria service for a vending machine. A VENDING MACHINE. Yet the company also would pay for homeopathy through health insurance. Who’s fault is this – mine and mine alone.  But the interesting thing, is my body is on average packing on 100kcal worth of weight a day. I’ve heard this magic number before. I’m not 100% sure if the body craves that much or if it’s the max “efficiency” for weight gain.

Can you lose weight and still have those mocha’s and junk food. YES! That’s that first straight line in the more recent detailed graph. My life is more balanced, I am focused, but I was still eating junk. Over 2 months and 1.4kg lost. Compare this with 1.5 months and almost 5kg lost. Of useless fatty weight.

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It sucks to lock down. You crave things initially. And bad. Soooooo bad. It’s torture. However there is a cool side effect. When I was 260lbs (about 6 years ago) I could almost eat a whole 18” pizza by myself or a 460g bag of Peanut M&M’s and be fine. I wouldn’t get sick. I’d feel guilty, sad, disgusted with myself and during the binge eating I lacked self control. However, I could physically stomach it. Fast forward, I was down to 195lbs and I couldn’t stomach a full bag of M&M’s or a hot chocolate from Tim Horton’s.

I’m not back down to that level, but I’m getting there. An no, I can’t stomach Tim Horton’s hot chocolate. It’s about 3 times too sweet for me.

Victim of circumstances?

No – you can’t blame your life, job, etc. It’s a contributing factor and sometimes it’s harder to compete with. If a job or an element of your life is destroying your health you have to determine if it’s worth it. If you ask me, no… Never long term sacrifice your health.

It’s harder to get back as you get older and then the possibility of kids, permanent disability, etc sets in. Having a single parent that died when I was 14 due to preventable heart disease – NO, you do not sacrifice your health. I warm my friends now of long hours of stress, and doing overtime. 40 hours a week is unnatural if it’s hated work, and 60 hours will probably kill you 20 years sooner even with vigorous exercise.

So here is my long term timeline:

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2003 – University begins

Summer 2005 – First Engineering workterm, stayed with cousin who told me to go buy a Canadian Tire (department store) bike to get to work because they would not be driving me and I couldn’t afford a car. There was no public transit in a small town like this. Hadn’t biked really since I was a kid, but it’s a small town! Around 250lbs. Had been continually gaining weight.

October 2005 – Riding to work, a car waved me to cross by riding across a cross walk on a side road, kept going not realizing the cross symbol changed for the major road. Hit by a GMC Yukon. No Helmet and listening to an ipod. I am a helmet advocate. I was lucky, my head scraped the ground and had the Yukon been going a little slower I would have touched down with brain damage. If it had been going much faster I wouldn’t have just cleared the 4 lane intersection, I would have landed in the direct path of traffic coming in the other direction. I was lucky. I won’t ride with anyone who isn’t wearing a helmet.

Knee busted up (Arthritis setting in the last few years) but not broken (I’m tougher than Vikings, remember?). Broke my left big toe. Suggested surgery to reset it – they messed up my mailing address, too late to fix but honestly not bad. Did I mention tougher than Vikings?

Spring 2006 – Bought my Hardrock Sport Disc Specialized bike to replace my mangled one. Light biking, commuting, etc. No real rides longer than 10 – 15km. NL is hilly.

January 2008 – First workterm with General Motors in Oshawa, Ontario. I hit over 260lbs. However, it was a tough workterm where I would be walking around a plant six hours a day. I hated the job because it was so hard and there were days I didn’t have the thirty seconds to shove a sandwich in my face (union rep was the hugest asshole I’ve ever met, until I calmly told him I wouldn’t be putting up with his crap anymore – that’s how you get respect from and angry union rep. 90% of my people were amazing though.) I left this workterm at 220lbs. Terrible bus service meant if I missed the bus I’d walk 45 minutes home otherwise it’d be over an hour home via bus. I just spent hours everyday walking.

May 2008 – Returning from workterm I was complimented by my peers so much. Biking was easier. Still biked a bit, but not much, no real weight change.

September 2008 – Haven’t been able to lose weight. Returned to GM for my last workterm. Hoped it would be another 40lbs lost workterm. Didn’t happen. Left at 220lbs.

May 2009 – Bike trip to Europe. Not to lose weight, but cycled around London, to Cambridge, then Belgium and Germany. Not much compared to what I can do now.

Sept 2009 – Grad school begins. More biking. Bought my first road bike (GT Series 4, Low end, Sora components – and no matter what that one bike shop said. If you’re half competent you can maintain Sora shifting well. If you can’t, you’re not a good mechanic).

Jan 2010 – Wanted to do a bike race, but they didn’t exist in NL. My  friends girlfriend was a runner, and suggested Triathlon as an option

May 2010 – First sprint distance Triathlon. Nearly died in water (near last), rocked the bike (+40 places), died during the run again (-17 places).

October 2010 - I started locking down on food, exercise, bought a Kurt Kinetic trainer for the winter. Started looking at creating a piece of software that had “virtual power” before Trainer Road did it right.

May 2011 – 2nd Sprint Distance Triathlon. Did well. Got down to the goal weight of 195.

Grad school stress sets in, looking for job, etc. I start to gain weight again. My diet had slipped a bit. Introduction of a few sweets / treats once and a while.

October 2011 to Dec 2013 – My “unbalanced job”. The job was good. I learned a lot. However it was not an enticing place to exercise (and other things). I had a lot of conflicting activities outside of work which meant healthy eating went out the window, exercise was compromised and my weight gain continued. There were several employee’s that made comment to my face ( and some while smoking directly next to the entrance of the building by the “No smoking within X distance” sign) – and not encouraging or positive comments. Later they hired more young people which made it more comfortable. However, it was not 100% conducive to being active at the workplace. Sticking me in an industrial park for 6 months without a shower or even sidewalks was a contributing factor in wanting to leave.

Jan 2014 – Present – New job working on sports tech. It means while I look ridiculous going for a run at –24 Celsius, the response is “awesome!” or asking if it was good, or commenting on how tough I am for doing it.

What’s your point?

I see people posting on Facebook / twitter / blogs about weight loss. Here’s what I see a lot of

  • Naturally skinny people saying “don’t take advice from fat people”
  • Overweight people feeling lost
  • Overweight people have success but usually via spending a lot of money to a “coach”
  • A handful of success stories, but then struggles to keep off the weight

So what have I figured out

  • Refined sugar is the enemy of all. Figure out if other things are your specific enemy. Just because you aren’t allergic doesn’t mean you can respond poorly to some foods
  • Life balance and support. It’s not good if you’re so time constrained that you can’t cook or eat proper meals. It’s also important to be around people who will lock themselves down and understand your goals. This is hard for a lot of people to truly support that
  • Find a tracking method that works for you. I like to weigh daily. If I start inching up in weight it’s a red flag. I read “weight once a week”. I call BS on that. My weight can fluctuate 2.5kg from day to day with overeating and hydration. If you’re weighting weekly you can’t see that. Honestly that guilt snack you had might show up, guilt you the next day, and keep you way from another for a week. It’s probably unhealthy to rely on guilt, but I figure a little guilt about a snack is better than a lot about being overweight.

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