What’s Your Reason?

There are a ton of reasons to lose weight: health concerns, preventing disease, the desire to achieve fitness goals, vanity. It doesn’t really matter what the reason is, as long as it’s something that can motivate you to strive for success. It’s funny how those reasons can evolve and change, it’s strange how my mentality changed once I became a runner.

When I was 250 pounds I set achievable weight loss goals for myself…

  • I wanted to lose 50 pounds by my brother’s wedding. 8 months later I was 199 a week before I walked down the isle.
  • Then I wanted to lose another 25 pounds. I did it.
  • I hung around several plateaus and FINALLY achieved my goal weight: 150 pounds.
Andy's Wedding

I’ve written about it before…how that Elusive Goal Weight tends to change. It can change many time too! I’m not talking about changing goal weights now…what I’m talking about is a shift in priorities.

My reasons behind losing 100+ pounds were:

  1. Health and disease prevention. (I was developing diabetes.)
  2. Vanity and improving my self-esteem. (I was tired of being The Fat Girl.)

I achieved my weight loss goals and successfully prevented diabetes and a whole mess of other issues I was having. When I was training for Reach the Beach and Hood To Coast, I realized that my reason behind losing weight wasn’t vanity anymore. For once, I had a “higher cause” for losing weight: improving my running and cycling abilities. Instead of focusing on the numbers on the scale, I was focusing on other numbers: fitness numbers.

You may think that 5 or 10 pounds does not make much of a difference in terms of fitness abilities but you’d be wrong. Losing even 5 pounds for a runner can increase speed AND decrease injuries by a huge amount.

If you have any doubts, check out this article about Tour de France. “Any excess weight such as body fat will only slow them down.” Lance Armstrong counts his calories, weighs and measures his food and follows a strict diet when he’s training for those mountain climbs in Tour de France. Even 5 pounds extra will add time. Not good when you’re competing against cyclists who are smaller, thinner and younger!

Runner’s World shared a pretty nifty guide on how to increase your time.

2 lbs
12.4 secs
25 secs
52 secs
5 lbs
31 secs
10 lbs
20 lbs

Losing 5 pounds will shave almost 5 minutes off your marathon time! When I was running 3-4 times a week in preparation for Hood to Coast I had a hunger that was insatiable. I ate so much food…but I also burned tons of calories. My body also wasn’t losing weight during my training. Losing weight while training for a running event is near impossible. I’m sure many of you can attest to that.

What I found interesting in the article was this quote:

“…while excess muscle on a cyclist’s upper body is dead weight, it’s vital in other sports. So, if you like to run, swim or play team sports as well as cycle, don’t lose weight by just losing muscle mass, or you’ll notice a decline in your performance. Similarly, if you lose too much body fat, your health will be affected.”

Basically with cycling, you want your muscles in the lower body–which is a no-brainer since the leg muscles are what drive your body forward. It never even occurred to me that my big swimmer’s shoulders could be a downside for cycling…Regardless, swimming is here to stay for me because I love it.

But when it comes to cycling, I’ve noticed that my performance has improved with a few simple things. The first thing that has helped has been weight lifting. Losing body fat is always a good thing. The squats and lunges I’ve been doing to strengthen my lower body has made my recovery time fast.

Another thing that has improved my performance is the core work I’ve been doing.  Having a strong core is essential to cycling because when you’re hunched over a road bike for long hours that can lead to back pain. Having a strong core prevents back pain from happening.

The reason can change, motivations can evolve as training and years go by. Being flexible to those changes is what keeps things interesting.

QUESTION: What’s your reason? Has it changed since you first started losing weight?

Happy Days Are Here Again!

It’s been almost two months since I sent off our heart rate monitors to get new batteries and be resealed.  It ended up taking that long because the place lost our stuff! 🙁 For weeks I was calling to get an update and find out when we’d be getting them back. The guy finally said he lost them. I was pretty upset by the news and delegated the issue to Michael. I knew I couldn’t keep a cool head. He thankfully called the guy and worked something out. The guy said he’d build us both new heart rate monitors free of charge and send them to us within 10 days.

Well they finally arrived! Just in time for the weekend workouts too. You have no idea how happy I was to get my HRM back. I love that thing. While I got used to working out without it, I don’t like that. I hate not knowing how many calories I’ve burned or if I’m in my heart rate range. I am so glad I have it back.

How I’ve been calculating my calories for the last two months: estimating. If I use a machine like the elliptical I go off what the machine calculates I burned and subtract about 100 or 150 calories from that number. For example, the elliptical typically says 650 calories burned in 55 minutes. I record that as 500 calories.

What I am most excited about is seeing the actual number burned with my heart rate monitor to see how far off my estimations were. I’m also curious about what that number is for spin class!

Saturday morning I went to the gym and started with the elliptical machine. I did about 60 minutes. The machine said I burned 653 calories.

What was the reality? My heart rate monitor calculated a much smaller number. 525!

So I was a bit off in my calculations but it’s not the end of the world. Especially since I’d been UNDERcalculating my weight lifting sessions for the last month. That’s always difficult to calculate without a HRM but I guessed I burned about 100 calories when in reality I was burning about 200. In the end it all evened out.

After my cardio I spent about 40 minutes doing some free-weight routines. Some of them were suggested by Suzanne and they are awesome. I love how the free weight routines wear me out more than using the weight machines. It’s almost like mixing in some cardio into it because of how high my heart rate spikes. Check out my progress photos! I’m so happy with my body right now. I can SEE the results of weight lifting.

Stomach is flatter and toner, my legs are toned (I think from both squats and spin class). I love it!

Time: 1:41
Calories Burned: 745

I finished my routine with a bunch of stretching and abs. I incorporated some yoga stretches for my lower back and calves. My calf muscles have been tight lately. Here is a photo of my progress in real clothes!

Michael and I went out to dinner Saturday night to use a Groupon that was close to expiring. We went to a fantastic restaurant called Iorio. I’ve been there once before for my birthday and the good was amazing.

We split the calamari appetizer, which was probably better than Jake’s (the best calamari in Portland) and Michael got the Caesar salad. I had a few bites of the salad and ordered a glass of Malbec wine. The wine was delicious; light and mild.

Michael got the fresine dish (pasta with fresh parmesan, sauce and sausage). I got the ravioli of the day which came with beef inside and was smothered in a spicy red pepper sauce. My sauce wasn’t spicy though, it was sweet. There were hints of nutmeg and cinnamon and maybe even pumpkin….? My dinner tasted like Christmas! It was fantastic though.

For dessert we split the flourless cake with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. The dessert was kind of a joke. It was teeny tiny! But we split it (so we each got 3 bites?!) and it was pretty amazing. I just wish there had been a little bit more.

It was a really nice date night! Lots of decadent food and delicate flavors and I got to get dressed up a bit to got out with my honey. The highlights of my weekend.

QUESTION: How accurate are you in your calculations?