Losing Weight the DBLDBS Way!

It's been five weeks since I stepped off a plane from San Francisco weighing a few pounds more than at any previous point in my life. Nine days spent sitting idle behind a computer. Nine days of eating way too much for breakfast and drinking too many beers with dinner. We need not discuss the desserts. I can't pin all of this blame on Duke though. My eating habits in general had deteriorated over the winter and the frequency at which I was working out could be measured in lunar phases. I wasn't getting fat, but I was certainly getting soft. Something had to give.

This is where I could write about how hardcore I've become in terms of working out and watching what I eat. I could tell you that I'm again training for marathons and Ironman triathlons and stage races in Canada. But it'd be a lie. As it turns out, I'm enjoying pretty significant results with what I would consider a very non-drastic course of action. I call this the DBLDBS plan, short for Don't Be Lazy, Don't Be Stupid. All rights reserved, copyright 2011, property of Randomly Generated blog. Rebroadcast or description of events prohibited without the expressed written consent of Major League Baseball. Oops.

Before I share the details of my plan, a few results are in order. I've been using our wonderful Omron scale every Thursday morning to chart my progression in terms of weight loss, body fat percentage, visceral fat, and skeletal muscle percentage. After five weeks of DBLDBS...
  • Weight: Lost 9.4 lbs OR 4.6% improvement.
  • Body Fat: 1.6 percentage points lower OR 6.4% improvement.
  • Muscle: 0.9 percentage points higher OR 2.5% improvement.
Most importantly of all from a long-term health perspective was my decrease in visceral fat. I dropped from a reading of 10 to an 8. Visceral fat is that which builds up around your internal organs and potentially contributes to higher cholesterol and diabetes. According to the log sheets that come with the Omron scale, a rating of 10-14 is considered "High" whereas 9 and below is considered "Normal" (15 and above is considered "Very High). I'd love to get it down to a 6 or 7 just to on the safe side, but I'm happy to have it down to an 8.

So what have I been doing? Well, like the plan states, I stopped being lazy and stopped being stupid.

 Exercise
The first thing I did that Thursday after I got home was go for a run. It didn't go well. I hadn't run in a year and I was very heavy on my feet. I was slow and I even had to walk a short hill just 2 miles into the run. But I felt good having done it. It was a 2.9 mile trail run at a pedestrian 8:59/mile pace, but I was feeling good. Good enough to want to go biking the next day, and the day after that, and the next day too. Essentially, I've finally embraced the idea that even 30 minutes of daily action is better than inaction. That a bike ride doesn't need to last for 3 hours to be worthwhile, that I don't need to beat myself up over running so much slower than I used to.

I also discovered the Garmin Connect website which works wonderfully with all manner of Garmin training devices. Kristin and I both have a Forerunner 305 for running and I have the Edge 305 for cycling. I've been uploading the data from each workout to the site the past five weeks. The blue squares are running, red is for cycling, and purple is for strength training (done exclusively with Active 2 for Xbox Kinect).

March Garmin Connect Calendar

April Garmin Connect Calendar
 Admittedly, there's not much information in the calendar view, but if you were to click one of those days on my Garmin Connect site, you'd be able to get a much more detailed view of the activity like this entry from last weekend's mountain bike ride. I mention all of this to show that 1) I've been working out 5-6 days a week, 2) that my weekly totals are rather modest, and 3) that having little gadgets and software like this makes it easy and fun to track your progress. All of the routes you upload are shared with other Garmin users too and are searchable by city and zip code. I've already downloaded a running route two miles from the hotel I'll be staying at next week in NC.

As an aside, regarding Active 2 for Xbox Kinect, I've been strictly using the "trainer generated" mode. Many of the squat and jumping exercises were destroying my knees (we have bamboo hardwood floor in the room with the Xbox and the yoga mat I workout on wasn't helping at all). Depending on my mood, I either tell it to generate a 30 minute upper body workout (Hard difficulty), or I'll do 20 minutes of upper and 15 of core. Or some other combination. I can toggle on/off exercises I don't wish to do. This ends up being a very solid workout yielding results that I can see in the mirror.

One final note on the workout schedule though. I learned the hard way a year ago not to ramp up the running mileage and pace too suddenly. I did that in the fall of 2009 and wound up hobbled with a stress fracture (in my femur of all places). So I've been limiting myself to just 3 to 5 miles for the time being, with my "longer" runs being done with Kristin so it forces me to slow down (and her to speed up). That said, I did manage to bang out a 7:45/mile average during yesterday's 3 mile rain in the run. Not exactly fast, but it felt really good.

Diet
This is where we address the DBS portion of the plan. There's the obvious things like cutting back on beer and sweets and yes, fast food too (as an aside, I honestly believe the McDonalds Double Cheeseburger is penny-for-penny the best tasting food of all time... unfortunately, I can't not eat 3 of them) but I had to cut deeper than that. After all, it's not like a drank a beer every night or passed through the Golden Arches more than once every two or three weeks.

So I started with breakfast. My typical breakfast was either two huge bowls of cereal or a couple of toasted bagels with butter. Too many carbs, too much buttery fatness. So, thanks to Costco's reasonable prices, I've been enjoying Chobani Greek Yogurt (non-fat, full of protein) with some granola every morning for the past 5 weeks. Yes, every morning. I've also been waking up much earlier, eating earlier, and having a snack during late morning. Which brings me to my other change. Out with the Pop-Tarts, in with the Nature Valley Fruit&Nut granola bars (again, thank you Costco). For lunch, I've managed to restrain myself to a single sandwich and not two. Afternoon snacks are now fruit or a nuts/trail mix instead of Pop-Tarts or chips & salsa. Kristin and I have also been better about dinner lately. We've always eaten pretty healthy at dinner, but we've cut back on various saucy chicken dishes and have been eating a lot more grilled chicken with a light seasoning. More fish too. We've also adjusted our eating out habits to lean more heavily towards sushi and Panera Bread instead of pizza and Chipotle Grill. Exceptions can be made though.

Finally, the other change I've made is in the realm of vitamins. Now, I don't actually know if this matters at all -- there's always a strong placebo effect at work when you talk about vitamins and people's dietary supplements -- but I've been much better about taking my adult gummy vitamins in the morning, and an Emergen-C and multi-vitamin after working out.

So What's Next?
Seeing 204 pounds light up on the scale last month was a wake-up call that gave me a few goals. For starters, I wanted to get back under 195lbs by the end of April. Mission accomplished! Next up is to get below 190 by the end of our bicycle trip in June/July, and be firmly back under 185 before my birthday on October 1st. That would really enable me to better enjoy the new Stone Gardens location when it opens this fall in Bellevue (bouldering at 196 pounds was not fun).

I was in the best shape of my adult post-college life in 2002 when I was running ultramarathons and doing long distance triathlons. I weighed 176 pounds back then, had single-digit bodyfat and was in excellent shape. I was also swim/bike/runnning over 25 hours a week. I won't be doing that again, but there is a lot of room for improvement between where I sit today and that pinnacle. And somewhere in the middle perhaps sits a pleasant plateau at which I can hopefully set up camp and stay a while.

Care to join me?

2 comments:

Jessica said...

Great work, Doug! That's some pretty cool tech stuff you got going on. I subscribe to myfooddiary.com which is a comprehensive food, exercise and weight tracker and I love all the various reports. I feel myself getting stronger too now that I'm working out frequently again.

Keep up the good work!! Looks like fun since you keep your workouts so varied.

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