Monday, March 23, 2009

Weight Control

I've never had a problem with weight control. I was never a skinny kid growing up, but certainly not fat. Then when I got married, had a child, and adopted a totally sedentary lifestyle, I packed on about 60 lbs over my high school weight in 10 years. There was no struggle involved. I ate poorly, avoided exercise, and the poundage multiplied.

When I got my wake up call that all was not well in 1996, I began to modify my diet. Most importantly, I caught the mountain biking bug. Hours on the bike per week more than anything else took the weight off. When I reached my current steady state weight in the 160's, I found I really didn't have to regulate calorie intake. I ate healthy foods and let the volume of exercise regulate body weight.

I've owned a Tanita body fat scale for about five years now. I bought it after meeting another individual that obsesses over body fat. If you ever get to know this individual, even barely, he's not shy about asking you to strip down in his bathroom to step on his super fancy Tanita scale and report the numbers. For me, the body fat is really irrelevant. I let health and real performance be the measure of optimum body fat. Those scales primarily measure hydration level anyway and only indirectly compute percent body fat through look-up tables based on other data you enter about yourself. They are not very accurate in an absolute sense, only relative sense.

I periodically log my weight and body fat, maybe a few times per week. The results are interesting. First, my body weight has been very consistent over the last five years, deviating no more than +/-3 lbs. Body fat stays right at around 9%. Weight may go up to 166-168 in the winter then drop to 162 in the summer when cycling volume is highest. Also notable is that last year my weight didn't drop much in the summer, yet I PR'd several hillclimbs. I produced higher Watts/kg, weighed more, thus must have produced much higher absolute Watts. Many factors could explain this, but this at least proves you don't necessarily have to lose weight to be faster on the climbs. Another notable feature is that my weight didn't peak as high this past winter. I've ridden decidedly less in January and February than in previous years, skied more, but total less volume. I do know that most of my work this winter was at higher average intensity than in years past. Maybe a lot higher. This not only burns more calories per hour while exercising, but also boosts the metabolism for hours after exercising. This perhaps helped keep the weight in check this winter. I certainly didn't constrain myself on the eating front whatsoever.

It's really hard to say how the past three months of training will play out once the cycling season gets underway. It's not something I fret over. I wouldn't trade any of the incredible skiing in for riding, especially since skiing conditions where mostly superb and riding in same conditions sucked. I have less than 1000 miles on the bike, no hours on the trainer, and nearly 500 miles in the mountains on XC skis. This adds up to a healthy 100,000ft of climbing so far this year, mostly on snow. This ought to count for something.

Hoping to get a long ride in Saturday before heading off to the islands. Options are a Gonzo/Kanc up-and-overs, or even a 4NaaP ride if I can confirm Bear Notch is open. More likely though, it will be a SNH loop, hitting all the local walls like Parkers, Abbot, Pead, Purg and maybe Unc.


Anonymous said...

Less free conference room food this winter = less winter weight gain.

Mookie said...

I've been meaning to get one of those Tanitas- simply for monitoring purposes of course... I've read that hydration levels affect BF readings but I would imagine that numerous readings over time would get you close to your real BF%.

It's interesting that you PR'd all the hillclimbs while actually weighing more- particularly someone who has been riding intensely for 10+ years. There must have been quite a spike in your sustainable wattage to account for the couple extra kilos in BW AND to go faster, no less. I'll take a double of whatever you're having.

Luke S said...

I just drove over the Kanc, coming back to MA from skiing in Jackson, which is pretty clear. Bear Notch Rd. looked like it was plowed from the Kanc, but you can't see very far up it, and I don't know what its like at all.

Have you ever skied in Jackson? They have some epic climbs that a guy like you could get into. East Pasture, Halls Ledge, and the North Hall Trail all offer 900-1000 feet of vertical and are varying degrees of steepness and brutality.

Hill Junkie said...

Finally got a hold of somebody at a forest service office. Bear Notch is in fact closed. They never plow it past the gates you can't see from the Kanc. They open when the last of the snow melts in May. Boo.

Never skied Jackson but want to. My friends rave about it. It's such a long haul. I can reach Waterville in 90 minutes, but Jackson is well over two hours. I have skied up Mountain Rd at Bretton Woods. I believe that also is around 1000ft gain.