This is the third winter since I went from near 300lbs to a svelte 190lbs. Summer of course passes with little effect. Being a manic kayaker I’m always in the water and paddling & rolling do wonders for your form. However as the snow begins to fly things change. I’m starting to believe you gain 1lb for every inch of snow.For the longest time I hadn’t really noticed my weight gain. For some reason life can just fly by you and you’re just too busy to notice. People around you are either too close to notice or not close enough to say anything. It wasn’t until I saw a photograph of myself holding a then 1 year old Gryphon that I realized how much like an African river mammal I’d become. I found myself looking in the mirror with the the song “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” rolling through my head. This couldn’t be good.
With the help of the internet and WebMD.com it was pretty easy to come up with a solution. This is what you do when you can’t just pull out cash to hire a personal trainer. I looked at calorie calculators and made a backward assumption. I entered my current age, weight, Lack of activity, etc., and found that I would need about 3300 calories a day to maintain my then large self. Ok, so that gave me a good idea that if all I did was cut my calories below that number and take some exercise I would begin to lose pounds. Well, I tend to go at things with a bit of zeal and cut my calories to 1500 and started hiking 3 to 6 miles every day out around the Baraboo Bluffs. By the second summer I was running 3 miles which for me is a big deal. Also we had learned some truly artful cooking and ingredients that allowed us to each food similar to what we had in the past, yet with much lower calorie intake. Vegetarian beef & potatoes go a long way. I had also learned to eat in the morning. I learned that by not eating breakfast your body can act as if it’s being starved and choose not to burn calories at a normal rate as it tries to conserve energy. So I learned to love oatmeal. Yippie!
Results actually came very quickly. By my first kayak class of summer I was down to 220. Then by late-summer I made it to 194. I bottomed out at 187 for a short time and then even at 1500 calories, as fall began to slow me down, my weight went back up to 195 and sat. I even cut down to 1000 calories for a time but without the same level of exercise the weight loss just stopped. Or at least became in perceptible to an impatient American brain.
After meeting a few times with my doctor I learned quite a bit. I think the important message was to not trust the many ” healthy weight” calculators our there. He explained that although they are a base line, they don’t do a good job taking into account body types. I was not going to be a “healthy” 154lbs. In the end he told me that anywhere in the 185-195 range was a good place for me to be and experience has taught me that it seems my physical self does like to hang in that range. HOWEVER. . .
Winter keeps coming. Each winter is a battle. Again I have to watch calories with vigor. I hike the trails until the snow becomes “groomable” and hiker’s are kicked off for the sake of cross-country folks. Which by the way seems a bit heavy handed. I’m not sure why we cannot hike along side the sacred mini train tracks. But such is life. But the day the trails are first groomed is the day that I’m back in the house on the treadmill going nowhere fast.
After 2 winters on the mill I was going batty. Finally a couple weeks back I broke down and bought a bike. And the bike is actually what inspired this rambling post. On the bike I can double, even triple my time and according to it’s quasi-reliable gauge burn well over twice the calories. This is with the tension set just 2 steps below max. (no it’s not ultra-easy) For the most part this even checks out when I research calorie burn charts across the web. Thing is, I just don’t feel like I’m doing all that much at least compared to the old squeaky treadmill. On the treadmill I was always out of breath and my heart rate was racing. On the bike you tend to find a flow and just go with it. You’re heart rate is up, your breathing is up, you develop a nice shine, yet at the same time you’re very comfortable. The other odd thing I’ve noticed is a very quick definition showing up on my calves. (Yeah, you’ve got to like that) but only a very slow change in actual weight. (at least in the 2 weeks or so since we got the bike) It’s got me curious. I wonder if the bike is truly better than the mill!? You wouldn’t want to slip backwards experimenting with this new machine. Yet, the bike is certainly much more tolerable. I’m sure I’ll get a handle on it in time. Frankly I’ll just be happy when I can get back on the trails.