The Thing Whose Name I Dare Not Speak

Very loyal and astute readers will know that I have an ulterior motive to my cycling bliss, one that I rarely refer to directly.  When I do raise the subject, it is often tangentially, usually in terms of its effect on equipment wear, rather than a detailed discussion of the topic per se.

I am speaking, of course, of my weight.  Specifically, I am a tad heavy.  And by “a tad heavy,” I mean 20-40 pounds, depending on how hopeful I am on a given day.

In March 2010, after a glorious three year post-retirement run where I ate whatever I wished and did absolutely no physical activity whatsoever, I came to the conclusion that I was killing myself.  Interesting (if not fun) Fact:  you can gain 40 pounds in three years doing precisely nothing.  When I retired from the Army, I weighed 225 pounds.  I wasn’t exactly svelte even then and probably should have been 15-20 pounds lighter.  When I walked into my LBS three years later, I was up to 265 pounds and the sky was the limit.

I needed to do something.  Cycling was a great low-impact cardio workout which I used to dabble in during my younger years.  It seemed like a logical solution to the problem of my expanding waisteline.  So I started pedalling and shortly thereafter I started this blog.  And life has been much improved ever since.

Many bloggers talk extensively about their successes and failures with weight loss.  For the most part, I do not.  This is for two reasons:

1.  I don’t think I could write a very entertaining blog based on my quest to lose weight (and I shall thank you in advance for not making snarky comments about the lack of entertainment this blog provides in its current form).

2. Most importantly, I was hoping to lose the weight by simply having fun cycling.  It wouldn’t seem so much like work and I would thus trick myself into becoming thinner.  If I told you (and hence myself) that I was trying to actually lose weight, the magic would be gone and disaster would ensue.

So I continued to eat pretty much whatever I wanted whenever I wanted while cycling away.  Perhaps I could literally have my cake and eat it to.  It was a grand experiment to see if exercise alone without changes to my diet could get me to the weight I wanted to be at.  What a wonderful world it would be if such a thing could be accomplished!

After 21 months, I can report that this technique has given me marginal success.  I am now holding steady at 240 pounds – a 25 pound decrease over my starting weight.  People who haven’t seen me in a while walk up and say, “Steve, you look great!”  By that they mean that I am not nearly as obese as I used to be.  That’s nice feedback.  Thank you.

Still, it’s not nearly where I hoped to be at this point.  I am therefore forced to conclude that over a hundred years of medical research is accurate – if you want to lose weight, you need to exercise AND control your diet.

Sigh.

So that’s what I am now doing.  I am actually paying attention to what I put into my mouth.  I won’t bore you with the details, but suffice it to say the amount of vegetables has gone up and the amount of fried foods and candy has gone way down.  We’ll see what that does.  Hopefully, I’ll weigh less which will mean that I look more dapper, cycle faster, and break my bike less often.  That would be nice.

I won’t be turning this into a weight loss blog.  Others are far more informed, inspirational, and entertaining than I on this subject.  In other words, Reason #1 above is still in play.  I may mention my weight once every blue moon, probably as it relates to some other cycling event/conundrum I am involved with.  In other words, we shall return to our regularly scheduled programming.  I’ve got tires to install and I KNOW you are all simply beside yourselves in anticipation waiting to hear the details! 

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13 thoughts on “The Thing Whose Name I Dare Not Speak

  1. Of course you know that writing about weight loss invites others to share their opinions on the subject…

    Losing twenty-five pounds while still eating whatever you want is a pretty good accomplishment, I think. As you say, to make further gains altering your diet is likely inevitable.

    My family tends towards being over weight and I started heading in that direction while I was still a very young man. I wasn’t keen on continuing to do so. Regular exercise and a only slightly modified diet has completely reversed the trend. The annoying thing is that my family members say that I am “naturally thin” and don’t credit the hard work it takes.

    • In the end, I believe it can be boiled down to a mathematical equation. Calories Burned must equal or exceed Calories Ingested. Sedentary lifestyles virtually guarantee that this equation will not be met.

    • If so, then I’m all set. I’ve dropped 1/3 of the weight I want to lose by cycling/running and eating a steady diet of fast food! Imagine what will happen if I stop eating pizza at 9:00 PM…

  2. I smell a very lively comment stream coming for this post!

    Steve, I think you’re onto something, but there is also the issue of what type of calories you take in, probably. I’m definitely no expert on the nitty gritty of all this, but my secret last year (if you care to know) was cutting down on beer and wine and foregoing sweets. I think sugar (or rather fructose) is a huge contributor to obesity in North America (it seems to be in just about everything that is processed). Simply eliminating this by eating real food will result in some nice weight loss, and a myriad of health benefits to boot!

    There’s also the case to be made for conditioning, which I still need to get my head around. The better shape you are in, the faster you start burning fat when you exercise. This might be one reason why so many people give up on exercise regimes – they don’t stick with them long enough for their physiology to change, resulting in a more efficient fat-burning machine. I’m pretty hopeless in this area (explaining) so check out ‘Fat Burning’ on Coach Rob’s page on my blog. He’s better at it.

    And even if you don’t talk about it, throw in the occasional self portrait, so we can see how things are progressing!

    • I think that sort of analysis is especially important at your level, Gerry. If your goal is to maximize performance, then you need to measure everthing, including the types/amounts of food you’re eating. I intend to start simply by eating less and better foods. Perhaps one day I’ll figure out grams of protein, sugar, etc… When that day happens, you’ll see my higher numbered bib passing you by on the Etape! 🙂

      And then I’ll wake up.

  3. It’s an equation: eat less + exercise more = lose weight. In these terms you don’t need to change your diet, just eat marginally less each day. Having said that, I can testify to the wondrous weight loss effect of cross stitch embroidery. It is very difficult to eat cheese and drink wine when you have an embroidery ring in your hands. Gerry’s right about processed foods though. Losing weight should have a wonderful effect on your hill climbing so good luck with your plan.

    • I regularly tell Gerry there are very few things I would object to more than shaving my legs. Cross stitch embroidery makes that list. I’m afraid I shall need to look elsewhere for hand-occupying activities.

  4. I read with dismay a few months ago that losing weight is 75% diet, 25% exercise. I had thought that my increasing mileage would make all the difference yet I lost about 20 pounds and it has since leveled — frustratingly so as I have plenty left. So like you, what goes in the gullet must be changed. I try to imagine how much more fun it will be climbing hills 20 pounds less… Just so you know, you’re not alone suffering — whether at dessert time or up those hills.

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