Thursday, November 26, 2009

Fat Doug Returns

Towards the end of summer, my sustained body weight was reaching a 30 year low, right around 160 lbs. I wasn't doing anything special. I traded intervals for "just riding my bike." I certainly didn't curtail eating. Research suggests interval training doesn't burn calories as effectively as steady moderate efforts. You do your hard 3-5 minute efforts, destroy your body in five of these, then you are done for the day. I've been doing a lot more mountain biking this summer and especially this fall. Without focused, intense efforts to break my body down, I can ride moderately hard for the whole ride and on most days. This undoubtedly burns more calories per week than doing a couple days with short uber hard efforts, often necessitating a rest day the next day.

Then work got busy. Hours went up. One- or two-day business trips with no chance to ride. Lunch meetings have become increasingly popular, as we are already working evenings, so the only time left to squeeze meetings in is at lunch (when I ride). This drives stress levels went up. Stress alone can cause one's body to make fat. Adding it up: reduced aerobic activity + increased stress + loaded meals in meetings or on travel = weight gain.

I didn't hold back feasting today. Out of curiosity, I stepped on the scale. Precariously close to 170! Not quite an apples to apples comparison though. I normally weigh myself in the morning when I'm partially dehydrated, not after eating half of a turkey and pumpkin pie. The body fat is inching up too. I'm normally around 9% in the morning (dehydrated) and 7% later in the day (fully hydrated). 10% late today is clearly a bad trend.

I'm don't freak over this shit. Do you? Some do but won't openly admit to it. I do not obsess over food or my weight. I've had no trouble maintaining a weight in the mid to low 160's for 10 years. The sooner snow gets here, the better though. XC skiing burns calories at a much higher rate than riding.

So what's with the Fat Doug bobble head? We all have good days and bad days on the bike. A while back, I was having a surprisingly good day when SteveG and I headed into the woods at lunch. He wasn't having as good of a day. Apparently I have a few annoying phrases, or euphemisms for wondering what is holding things up.  One of these phrases is "What's going on?" You know, wondering if maybe they had a mechanical, and that's why it took so long to come up that last hill. Maybe the brakes are rubbing or a tire is going soft. I guess when you are just sucking wind or have lead legs that day, you don't want to hear smart-assed rhetorical questions.

Back at work in email chatter, Steve commented to DaveP all he needed to finish making him go batty was a Doug bobble head that repeated "What's going on?", "Do you have a soft tire?", or "Is a brake rubbing?"  It just so happened that I had a Michelin Man bobble head in my office, something that was thrown in a race swag bag this summer. Yeah, that will work.  A quick print of a Fat Doug picture from the web and a permanent marker completed the Fat Doug bobble head. It was perfect Steve wasn't in his office when I placed it on top of his monitor. I could almost here him go GAH! from the other side of the building when he returned. Yeah, we can have fleeting instances of fun at work.

So now Fat Doug stares back at me by my home computer as a reminder.  The equation is a pretty delicate balance. When weekly volume normally burns the equivalent of two pounds of fat, a protracted period off the bike would produce a dramatic weight gain. Even a 25% reduction in volume could see a two pound gain per month. That's probably the realm I've been in the last couple months. As long as other factors don't interfere with riding and training, my weight takes care of itself. When training runs into interference, some manual intervention may be needed in the diet. Not looking forward to it.


CB2 said...

I've been in the same boat; I usually don't have to worry about what I eat until much later. I'm already at my Winter high!

Mookie said...

I'm right with you. I ate myself into oblivion yesterday; I'd say somewhere in the neighborhood of 3000 calories. I look at it as good training. Heavy winter bike + heavy body= how the hell is this hill that hard?

There are studies out there that suggest there is a considerable spike in post-exercise metabolism after high intensity intervals. This would explain why a world class sprinter, who does very little in terms of total volume, has BF% in the low single digits.

Are you familiar with Tabata intervals?

10 seconds will never feel so short!

Anonymous said...

I had to LOL on that one. I have heard that question quite a few times, maybe one of the times I had a flat.

Dave said...

I feel ya. I am up to 165 from 155 over the Summer. Dave needs to get back on track lest 6 Gaps humble him again.

Big Bikes said...

Yup, I already hit my high. Haven't weighed in for a few days fearing that I've gone over 170. Time for "manual intervention" for me I'm afraid.


plum said...

The week after Thanksgiving was not a good time to return to the scale. I'm back to my Okemo weight, which I don't recall being delightful.

Tabata is very interesting.

jason_ssc1 said...

I have to disagree with you on the moderate versus high intensity thing. I've experienced much greater weight loss from anaerobic efforts. These are mixed into longer rides so it's not totally an either/or for me.