Firstly I would like to say that this is my journey. This is a lifestyle article that I have decided to write. I am not advocating that you do as I am doing or train how I am training. Nor am I making any money from this article.
As most of you know, in January 2015 I had shoulder surgery. Subsequently I had a series of false starts in attempting to return to training due to continued shoulder pain and the somewhat stressful life of running a small business. As a result I've had a slow but steady weight gain over the past 12 - 15 months.
In November last year I went to Hunter Imaging and had a DEXA scan to get an accurate measurement of where my body was at. There were no surprises and it confirmed what I already knew. But it gave me a number in black and white. I was 94 kg and 22% body fat i.e. Overweight. I was back racing and training 4 days a week on the bike but for once in my life the training wasn't shifting the body fat.
After Reading Primal Blue Print by Mark Sisson. I started to change the way I ate and trained. I reduced processed sugar throughout the week to almost zero and began training at a much lower intensity than I used to. I also stopped filling my water bottles with electrolyte drinks and Branch Chain Amino Acid Drinks. Instead my morning sessions were now being held in a fasted state and I drank plain water. For longer rides, the only external sources of calories were from natural sources and not fruit as most people tend to rely on. My fuel of choice is now a high fat substitute- "Avocado's with a tablespoon of Almond butter".
The transition to a lower carb lifestyle wasn't difficult this time as I had help from a nearby pharmacist that suggested I try a really good probiotic. He explained to me that some bacteria in the gut is fed by sugar. If you take away that sugar the bacteria can actually trigger cravings (something that I was a major sufferer of). I found my sugar cravings settled after taking these for about 36 hours and didn't have that burning desire to eat every sugary treat in walking distance.
Training was a challenge as my usual training diet consisted of one bottle of electrolyte drink and one bottle water. During races I would usually pack a gel or two as well to make sure I had the energy to finish. For the first few rides I did struggle, even at low intensity but I adapted pretty quickly with only one near hunger flat on the bike about 30 km from home. Within a week, I could feel my metabolism start to shift and the mid afternoon phase outs and the binging on the occasional sugary treats stopped. Now 6 weeks in and I have regularly completed 3 - 5 hour training sessions on little to no supplementary caloric intake. I no longer get home and feel the need to replenish with a high carb drink. I feel more energetic and have less energy crashes in the afternoon.
6 weeks in to my new lifestyle choice and I feel completely different. Quite a few people have said I am looking heaps fitter and my skin looks clearer and tighter. I haven't had another Dexa Scan yet. But after recently weighing myself on a set of body composition scales that were reasonably close to my Dexa scan last time, I am now 86 kg and 13% Body Fat.
My wife and I still go out Friday nights for date night and Sundays we have a breakfast in one of our favorite cafes and on the odd occasion, we even go for a walk to the local surf club for a Sunday lunch treat. I never feel overly hungry and I don't feel like I am missing out on anything. Compared to previous attempts at losing body fat and dropping body weight, I am optimistic that this feels right.
My journey has only just begun. My goals are to be as healthy as I can and maintain a balanced lifestyle. I am really happy with how I am going.
What am I eating? Why is it working? Can you do it too? I will leave that to another Blog another time.
Yours in Health & Fitness
Total Performance Centre