Thursday, August 31, 2006

My Diet

I've been trying to decipher in my head why I lost so much ground in the weight-loss war over last winter. I have plenty of excuses. Among them; I was going back to school and didn't have time to exercise, I hurt my shoulder while lifting weights and had to take a break, and it was cold outside so I couldn't ride my bike. All of which is true, but they are still just excuses.

In reality, I think I just got burned out. For over a year, everything that I ate got written down in a log. I would log calories, protien, carbs, fat, sodium, and sugar. It worked great. On most days, I could pretty much hit my target numbers. Writing down what I ate made me accountable for what I ate. It was a system that worked well enough fr me to lose one hundred pounds.

Here's the problem. Writing down the nutritional contents of every scrap of food works very well for short periods of time, but doing it for over a year, or the rest of your life, becomes an incredible drag! For one, it's time consuming. It would take me longer to log down my meal than it would to eat it. Secondly, who wants to carry a notebook around everywhere they go? I just got tired of it. Burned out. So eventually, I quit tracking my food. This meant I lost accountability and eventally started gaining weight again.

What a bummer to think you have to write down everything you eat for the rest of your life.

I think I've found a great compromise. My wife turned me on to the weight watcher diet. The plan is pretty simple. Based on your weight, you get so many points worth of food per day (I get 31 per day at the moment). Food is converted to points based on its calories, fiber, and fat content. You can eat whatever you want provided you don't exceed your daily points. There's some flexability built into the plan as well. You can earn more points with exercise and take advantage of weekly flex points that allow you to "cheat" a little. Once you get in the swing of things, following the weight watcher plan is much easier than tracking all you nutrients like I used to do. I really enjoy it. I've lost over 20 pounds since I started following the plan and I think it might be what I need to put me over the top. I worry a little that it will get harder when my daily points begin to drop with the weight, but my plan is to slowly increase my exercise to help make up for any drop in points.

Basically, the weight watchers plan forces you to learn portion control. I eat whatever I want, but if I don't want to run out of points, I need to watch my portions. Portion control is my biggest weakness. I'm the guy that can eat a whole pizza, an order of wings, and a 2 liter of pop on his own. The part of my brain that is supposed to tell me I'm full apparently died a long time ago. So this weight watchers thing seems to work very well for me. I can eat basically what I want and work it into the daily plan.

I'll let you know how it works for me!


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My Weapons of Choice

So you may be asking yourself, "Self, what kind of bike does a phatty ride?" I have anticipated your question and figure now is a good time to share my bikes with you. When I first fell in love with bike riding, I went out to a big bike chain and began shopping for road bikes. I was about 290 lbs at the time, so I was very concerned about getting a bike that would hold me. As luck would have it, the salesperson I had was bigger than me. The bike I was attracted to was a Giant OCR3 and the sales-guy told me it was the bike he rode. I suspected he may of been feeding me a line, but I took a shot and bought the bike anyway. I can't say I was disappointed in my choice. I've had the Giant now for going on three years and I've never had any real problems with it. I was having some problems with the rear wheel going out of true so I replaced the wheel with a 32 spoke Mavic Open Pro rim. I bought the Open Pro on the advice from a website called Big Men On Bikes. I've ridden the Giant as heavy as 315 pounds and as light as 260 pounds. I definately feel more confident on it when I am lighter, but I have never felt like my life was in danger. I can't wait to ride my Giant at 225 pounds ... I can only imagine I will be as fast as greased lightning!

As much as I like my Giant OCR 3, I wanted to get another bike for riding around town. The Giant is a road bike which means it has the skinny litte road tires, and I have added clip pedals (which means me feet are connected to the pedals when I ride). It's a great bike for the open road/trail, but a little difficult when riding around town. With that in mind, I bought my Gary Fisher Marlin mountain bike. I love my mountain bike. For one, it is rock solid. I was able to ride it at 300+ lbs without a second thought. Its fun to ride around town because I can actually hunt out mud puddles and gravel that would kill me on my road bike! I have spent more time on this bike than my Giant this year, if only because I am still recovering from last winter's set back (weight-gain) and I feel more confident on my mountain bike. I consider my mountain bike my "trainer." It weighs a lot more than my road bike, so I have to work a lot harder to go fast. I figure riding the mountain bike will eventually make me a stronger rider on the road bike!

As much as I love my bikes, when I get below 230 lbs, I have plans of buying a super-duper road bike! I can't wait!

My advice to any phattie who wants to shop for a bike is simple. Avoid Wal-Mart and similar stores like the plague. You get what you pay for. Department store bikes were put together with inferior parts by a teen-aged kid that has no clue what he was doing. They will fall apart under the weight of a phattie! Find a bike shop that is run by someone that seems genuinely interested in helping you find a bike that will fit your needs. If you enter the store and get blown off, find another one. At a bike shop, your bike will be put together by someone that knows what they're doing and will service your bike after the sale. I can't stress enough how important that is. The internet is also a great resource. Take note of what bikes other phatties ride, find a good bike shop, and make the best choice possible. You won't regret it.


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Phat History

Like most people that struggle to keep the weight off, my phat history is a story of ups and downs. I was always overweight as a child (my mom had to buy me the "husky" jeans), but I was never that heavy. Despite being big, I was pretty athletic. I loved playing street-football and basketball which I am sure helped keep me weight stable. After my sophmore year in high school, my whole family went to a weightloss place (Nutrasystems, I think). I lost over 50 pounds. When I returned to school the next year, I weighed 188 pounds. Pretty decent for a kid that was growing to be over six feet tall. I stayed pretty close to that weight until I graduated and when to college.

College was another story. My steady diet of beer, subs, beer, pizza, and beer caused me to start gaining weight. By the time I got married at the age of 22, I had "blossomed" to over 350 pounds. At a physical for a job interview, a doctor told me if I didn't do something to get my weight and high blood pressure under control, I wouldn't live past 30. So I did something. It was a stupid something, but I did it. I pretty much starved myself for the next 8 months. I ate well less than 1000 calories a day and worked out a couple of hours a day. The weight loss was rapid (I dropped down to 178), but I was in terrible shape. I could't bench press 100 pounds because I was so week from starvation. Eventually, I began to suffer from terrible stomach pains. It's my theory that my stomach was eating itself. I'm not sure how scientific that is, but I'm going with it.

Man how I wish I had discovered the cycling lifestyle at that point in my life. Cyclists have it figured out. They realize that to ride insane distances, they have to consume a lot of calories. It's the only way to survive on a long bike ride. If you don't eat, you can't ride very well. Almost every long bike ride features food in some way. Riders talk about how you have to consume so many carbs per half hour to avoid the dreaded "bonk." Think about it. What could be more healthy? Wanna eat pizza, ride your bike 50 miles, then eat some pizza. Cyclist know how to balance food with exercise.

Unfortunately, I didn't find cycling at that point. When I began eating again, the weight began piling on. when I finally decided to do something about it (about 3 years ago) I had got up to over 390 lbs. I don't know how high I got because my scale maxed out at 390. So let's just say I was 390+.

I can say without a doubt I will never weigh 390+ again. I began losing weight simply by walking. I didn't really watch what I ate, I just took a walk every morning. At first, I couldn't walk 20 minutes without my right foot going numb. I would limp in the front door from my walks. Eventually, I began increasing my distance and before long, my diet started getting better. I quit eating fast-food and drinking pop. It seemed silly to waste my walking time by eating poorly. It took about a year, but eventually I got down under 300 lbs. Then, I went bike riding with a buddy. Our old Wal-Mart mountain bikes were junk, so we both went out and bought road bikes from bike shops. Needless to say, I had a new primary form of exercise.

Eventually my weight got down to just under 260 lbs. I rode several hundred miles in both 2004 and 2005. I had a setback last winter though as I struggled to complete my college degree while working full-time. I didn't have time to exercise or eat well, so my weight began to increase again. all the way up to the 310.6 pounds you see in my Measure of Fattiness to the right. I think God that He opened my eyes and helped me see what I was doing to myself. Luckily, I was able to nip it in the bud. I began riding my bike again this summer and the weight began dropping off. I consider my winter weight-gain as a minor setback. Yeah ... I gained some back, but I am not gonna beat myself up over it. It's all a learning experience. I'm just a slow learner!

I am determined to get my weight down to a healthy point using diet and exercise. My goal is 225 lbs. At my height and build, I am pretty sure that will be a healthy weight for me. Not only will it make me a better bike rider, but it should be pretty easy to maintain. If I set myself up for an unrealistic goal, say far under 200 pounds, I'd never be able to maintain it without starving myself. I'll get it ... just watch.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Phatty on Wheels? Uh ... What?

What's a phatty on wheels? In my case, it's a big guy that likes to ride a bicycle. I love to ride mine. I'm not the slim, tiny-waisted guy you've seen in the Tour de France. Heck, I'm not even the kind of trim guy you see on the roads in your neck of the woods. As of this writing, I am 287.9 lbs at 6' 3" tall. In the world of bicycling, I'm almost as big as they come. I say almost because I know of people who are bigger. Their dilemma is the same as mine. The world of bicycles is designed for small people. In fact, the smaller the better. If you really want to use the coolest carbon-fiber frames and the lightest racing wheel set, you better be on the far south-side of 200 lbs. I'll never be below 200 lbs ... this I know.

Inspired by people like the Fat Cyclist and Mike Magnuson, I do plan on doing the best with the body I have. Why? Because the only alternative is to sit on the couch watching life go by on the tv while eating a bag of doritos. I love riding my bike enough that it gives me the desire to get in better shape. At the moment, I have a couple of vague goals in my mind. I would like to hit a 1,000 road miles next year. I would also like to ride a century (100 miles) in 2007. Weight wise, I would like to be close to 260 by the end of 2006 and under 230 at the end of 2007. On this blog, I intend to log my progress at reaching my goals. I have another blog where I detail my thoughts about other things (mainly God and the books I have read), but I wanted this one to be specific to my cycling, exercise, and weight goals. Why? I don't know. Maybe it's because the best blogs seem to have a theme. Maybe it's an effort to keep my life organized. Either way, I hope you enjoy yourself here.

My next entry will detail my weight history in all its gory details.