Monday, March 31, 2014

Hitting "reset"

This morning I stepped on the scale and found that I weighed the most I have in over a year: 191 pounds.

As I trained for this past weekend's ultra, I decided to stop tracking my calories and just try to eat relatively healthfully. I did, however, continue to weigh myself -- although I didn't record my weight every day. This graph shows the progress of my weight over the past year:

That line is headed in the wrong direction

As you can see, I've gained almost 15 pounds since last November. The big event that led to about half of my gains was my injury after the Spencer Mountain 5K in November. I wasn't burning nearly as many calories in workouts, and I was eating out of frustration that I couldn't work out!

Then in January and February as I ramped up training I gained the other half the weight; somehow ultra training just made me hungrier, and I convinced myself that gaining a little weight wouldn't hurt my performance much.

But now that I'm going back to working on speed, those extra pounds will be critical. So I'm revamping my diet to try to drop those pounds and return to a better racing weight. I'm going to be tracking my calories as closely as possible on MyFitnessPal. My diary is open, so anyone can see what I'm eating.

The major change I'll be making compared to my previous regimen is to make a more concerted effort to keep a balance between carbs, protein, and fat. The goal will be to allocate my calories 50% to carbs, 30% to protein, and 20% to fat.

Previously, even on a day where I wasn't overeating, I had been allocating way too many calories to fat. For example, consider October 21. On that day, I had cereal for breakfast, a taco salad for lunch, and a Caprese salad for dinner. But for snacks I had almonds, a chocolate chip cookie, a granola bar, hummus, and an apple. I had some wine and scotch as well. The totals for the day: 91 grams of fat, 155 grams of carbs, and 87 grams of protein. That doesn't sound too bad until you realize that fat is 9 calories per gram, where protein and carbs have only 4 calories per gram. That means I had 819 calories of fat, 620 calories of carbs, and only 348 calories of protein. Almost half my food calories were fat!

Today I gave my first shot at getting closer to the ideal. As of now I've eaten 585 calories of fat, 736 grams of carbs, and 356 grams of protein. So that's 33% fat, 41% carbs, and 20% protein (The numbers don't add to 100 due to alcohol). If I'm hungry later today I will have some fruit or maybe a shredded beef taco (hold the cheese and sour cream).

The main difference is substituting beef jerky for some of the fattier snacks. I've ordered some protein bars that have a better balance of fat and protein, but they haven't arrived yet. And tomorrow I will be testing out a new lunch salad that should have significantly less fat than my previous go-to-lunch, the taco salad.

I'm also planning on limiting myself to two glasses of wine per day. That may be the toughest part for me -- I'm  a guy who likes his wine. I will probably replace some of that wine with smoothies, which will also improve my carb and protein numbers.

My goal is to get back to 175 pounds in three months, then maintain that weight indefinitely as I look to improve my times in shorter races. I'll try to update you with my progress here periodically. Wish me luck!

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