Why am I doing this? Why did I feel like I needed to change my diet? Why wasn't my current diet working? Why did I switch my training?
So to put things in perspective, I have been a competitive athlete since I was 7 years old. I love to train. It's part of my make up. Working hard and striving to improve my performances makes me feel like I am achieving something. In 2003, after a few years of inactivity, I began my fitness re-incarnation. Cycling was always what I used to drop weight and get fit. It helped me start my journey from a 103 kg depressed, binge drinking alcohol to the 84 kg National Defence Cycling Champion in 2009. Some weeks I would train up to 14 - 15 hours, consisting of both long rides, high intensity intervals and racing
Fast forward 7 years. I'm now 45, married and own and run Total Performance Centre. In those seven years I have gone from a steady Defence job where I new my every working hour and had little stress to a self employed massage therapist still with not a lot of stress and finally to a business owner with staff to manage, classes to organise, a gymnasium to keep clean and tidy, promote the business with in my beliefs, and still continue massaging. Then January last year I had major shoulder surgery that kept me from doing much of anything for six months.
Stress, excuses and a complete cessation of training for many months and a series of extremely poor eating choices all lead to a slow and gradual weight gain and a massive reduction in fitness. I suppose it would be easy to blame the business and the surgery and a raft of other things for my weight gain. But in the end it came down to me making a series of poor eating choices and trying to justify that "It will be fine once I start training again".
Fast forward to Jan 2016. I had been back training up to three hours a day, three days a week, plus racing on most weekends since October 2015. After 4 months of regular training and racing. I was still 94 kg 22% body fat and feeling like that I was going nowhere. I was no closer to making it back to racing as an A grader. In fact I was flat out calling myself a competitive B grader. I felt like I was treading water and going no where. I felt useless and direction-less and I couldn't remember why I was riding.
While getting ready for one of my Wednesday morning training rides, I still had no clear idea on what I planned to do on that ride. In fact, I even contemplated driving to work. I was listening to "Primal endurance" by Mark Sisson and the narrator was talking about training and diet and common mistakes endurance athletes make. It was like he had been watching my entire adult athletic career and he was standing there in front of me talking about my racing and training. It was a real slap in the face at first. No one really likes to find out that after a decade of dedicated training and racing that they have been doing it wrong in more ways than they are doing it right. Seriously though, how could anyone think that what they are doing in regards to training and diet is correct as a cyclist when they can't get their weight below 85 kg and 12% body fat when training more than 13 hours a week. A bell seemed to go off in my head while sitting there listening to this stranger talking to me. Everything he said resonated with me and everything he said gave me confidence that I had more to give. It gave me that tingling sensation that I hadn't had in quite a few years. I was excited and I couldn't wait to get out on the bike. I had a purpose.
Why didn't my old style of training shift the weight? My guess is I rushed going back to racing. I had no endurance base in my legs or lungs. To come back to racing B grade, I was pushing harder than I possibly should have. I was also doing hard training rides 3 days a week. Which were at a level that was causing me to deplete carbohydrate stores. This lead to sugar cravings that would magically pop up the day after my training sessions. Also stress levels were higher than they used to be and of course there is that thing none of us like to admit. I am getting older.
What am I doing now?
More on that next time.