Friday, January 27, 2012

Fitness vs. Fatness

Much like the majority of the U.S. population, I have to keep a constant eye on my weight.  I'm not too bad off, but I can easily start adding pounds when I let my habits get away from me.  I stand a whopping 5'-7" tall, and weigh about 180 pounds.  The BMI calculations say that I'd have to drop to 159 pounds to pass out of the "overweight" category and into the normal weight group.  Hmmm.  That is hard to picture, since I haven't been at that weight for over 20 years. 

At West Branch earlier in the month
 Two years ago I was up to just a hair short of 200 pounds, but slowly dropped a bit.  Then this fall I got a bit more serious and lost about 15 pounds.  Then I had an accident and fractured my skull, and all my exercise habits were put on hold.  Since December I've struggled a bit to get back on track, but I'm doing better this week.

I use MapMyRide to help me out.  It has a great nutrition section that lets you keep track of your daily calorie input.  You can also log your workouts, from bike rides to gardening, to get an idea of what kind of calories you're burning.  And of course you can map your rides to keep track of mileage while tracking them with your workouts.  For a free service I think they do a heck of a job and can be a real help to someone trying to control their weight.

No comment

I think there are several things that worked for me in the fall, and I'm getting back into the habits that showed results.  One of the main things is to try to get in some sort of workout almost every day.  When you have more frequent exercise apparently your basal metabolic rate gets higher, so that you burn more calories every day, not counting your workouts.  For me that usually means one or two mountain bike rides a week (during the season when you can actually ride), rides around town, and stationary bike rides in the basement on other days, along with the occasional kayak or canoe trip or trail building day.  Let me say that I, like everybody else, hate riding the stationary bike.  But it really helps build up those leg muscles and also gets in an extra burst of calorie burning for the day.

West Branch, with the trail loop start on the left, and the end on the right.
One more thing - I think mountain biking has it all over road riding when it comes to workout effectiveness.  The road bike thing seems to build those quads, as dealing with the road surface is a minor part of the ride compared to the actual moving forward as fast as possible part.  When you're on a mountain bike and riding singletrack it's a way more dynamic situation - the rider is constantly changing position, lifting out of the seat for bumps, standing to pedal, pushing down the bars to preload and then pulling back to lift the front wheel.  On the day after a big singletrack ride my shoulders are usually the sorest part, not my legs.  So you get more muscles involved and can push out a lot of calories on the way.

Loaded up and ready for adventure, with the kayak on top and mountain bike inside.

I tried to take advantage of my half day Friday today - as hard as I could I tried...  But sometimes you just can't make things happen.  At noon I headed home and loaded up the bike, kayak and a ton of gear and headed east into Pennsylvania.  There had been a bunch of snowmelt and then rain, and all the creek gauges were going nuts.  I hoped to head over to Scrubgrass Creek, near Kennerdell on the Allegheny River, and get in a nice quick run or two on the creek.  But when I got there it looked a little bit too high for me to run solo.

Scrubgrass Creek
Honestly, I likely could have paddled it with absolutely no problems, but after the last couple of years and the troubles I've had with injuries it's become second nature to take the safer choice when there's any doubt at all.  Too bad, I was really looking forward to some whitewater.  And I know that if Scrubgrass is too high then it's likely that the other area creeks in the same difficulty range are going to be too high as well.  With darkness approaching too fast I decided to cut my losses and try to get in a bike ride at Moraine instead.  I knew the area had gotten an inch of rain in the last 24, so I just headed to the paved bike trail instead of the singletrack.

Moraine State Park bike trail
For the most part paved bike trails are rail trails, so they're mostly flat to keep the trains from wasting energy climbing up and down hills.  But the Moraine trail was created just for bikes, so it at least has some nice rolling hills.  It wasn't exactly the greatest weather, with gusty winds and blowing snow (freezing rain?  micro sleet?) sandblasting my eyeballs.  Still it's always great to get out and ride, so I was fairly satisfied with the day.

 On the way back home from Moraine I got a call from the wife.  Seems like Kenny is going to stay overnight at one of his friends house.  I'd planned on him and I going out to West Branch tomorrow morning to pitch in with CAMBA on their first trail work day of the season.  But with a free morning I feel that I may be forced to try another recreational outing, chasing either high water or rocky trails.  It'll mean an early morning departure, but I can live with that!


  1. Nice job on the weight loss. I'm 1" shorter than you and had reached 201#'s a few years ago, Dr. told me to drop the weight or I'd drop dead before 50. Started riding more, drinking less, and eating better. I'm ~167#'s now, and would like to get down to ~140-150#'s, not easy as we get older. Take it off slow and it will stay off.

    Keep up the good work fella!

    1. That is the truth - you can't sustain the habits needed for these quickie weight loss diets. Getting exercise every day along with watching calories, while not glamorous, really is what does the trick. I'm really starting to look forward to this summer's riding season as one where I'll be hauling a bit less weight around.

      Steve Z