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Saturday, 7 September 2013

You can't outrun a bad diet

It is easy to live in denial when you're trying to lose weight. You just tell people, "I'm trying to lose weight" but if your actions don't match your words then you're just lying to yourself. As it happens I can be a very convincing liar.

Training for any kind of race will burn a ton of calories, but there's still a limit. After my fourth Ironman at Coeur d'Alene I realized that I needed to look more closely at my diet. My weight had plateaued at 275 lbs and holding. I wasn't gaining weight but I was certainly not losing any. One of my big wakeup calls was when Kyle Kowalski, a guy I referee hockey with, just looked at me after a game and said bluntly, "how can you workout that much and still be fat?" At first I was taken back by this, but he had a point. I started to really look at what I was doing wrong. Obviously it wasn't a lack of exercise. The only answer had to be that I was eating too much.

After I lost all of my easy weight the first time I had hit a plateau at 285 lbs. I decided to try Weight Watcher's online. What I really liked about WW  online was that I didn't have to go to meetings. I could take responsibility for my own weight loss and food tracking. I think this worked for me because I had already established my discipline in my training regimen and didn't need the pressure of others to keep me on track. If you don't think you're going to have the discipline to stay on track on your own I would definitely recommend attending a WW meeting at your local franchise. Just like with a workout class, group weight loss can provide the peer pressure and support that some people need to push them over the top.

I watched my mom work on a few different weight loss programs and although the programs that make you buy their food will work, they don't teach you anything. You buy a meal in a container and that's what you eat. Weight Watchers forces you to eat regular food but calculate what appropriate portions would be and in the process you start to get an innate sense of proper eating.

I was surprised by a few foods and just how many points were in them and this was where I was making my biggest mistakes. As a reference, I get 54 points and my mom get 33 points per day. As a snack I would often grab a bowl of cereal. I was shocked to find that that was worth 10 points. 1/3 of my mom's daily food intake in one bowl of cereal and 20% of mine. No problem, I just started finding better options for a snack that would fill me up for less points.

Previously I visited a dietician and she looked at my training and gave me a plan where I would plan out a meal with all the food groups and eat that same meal all week. BOOOOOOOORING!!! I was not a fan of this. I love food, many kinds of food, and to discriminate would be unfair. Eventually this broke down because I got bored and angry and would start to eat other foods than what was made for me. 

I had also tried the Four Hour Body, a diet plan where you could eat all you wanted of a few different types of food and once a week binge on whatever you wanted. This was fine, at the start, but I didn't get big by denying myself certain foods. You can probably last a couple of weeks, maybe even a couple of months, but eventually you're going to want to get a bowl of ice cream or a pizza or whatever your particular favorite is and not want to wait until your cheat day. At this point, the diet no longer works.

What needs to be noted here is that my wife, throughout all of this, has just made whatever food I've asked of her. Lentils and spinach for breakfast? Done. Beans and chicken every meal for a month? Check. She didn't want to eat this so she would make everyone else something different. Never once did she make me feel bad or hint that it was a hassle and I really appreciate this. It is this kind of support that makes my ventures possible.

Weight Watchers doesn't do this to you. On WW you can eat whatever you like. It just becomes obvious to you over time that certain foods will serve you better than others and you slowly weed out the bad foods. But on those days where you just need a pizza you account for the points and satisfy your craving. Another thing I've learned about food cravings is to just give in to them in moderation. You're going to eventually so you might as well do it "responsibly." Calculate the points that it will cost you and work it into your daily allotment.

Some of you may be able to be happy on the diets where you are denied certain foods, but I just can't give up certain foods forever and recognizing that in myself was a huge step in the right direction. Since Ironman Coeur d'Alene on June 24, 2013 I've dropped 17 lbs from 275 lbs to 258 lbs. I had a DEXA scan done where they use X-rays to measure your body's make up and if I had zero body fat I would weigh 216 lbs. This means that I'm just under 17% body fat and feeling great. My overall goal is to get to 250 lbs and I think this would be a nice place to stay.

Whatever your activity level, whatever your goal, it is absolutely critical that your food intake be in control.  Find a way to eat that works with your tastes, your lifestyle and your weight goals. Finally, actually set a goal. If you don't know where you're going you have no idea how you'll get there.

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