A few weeks back I declared war on 16%. That was my body fat % according to the high tech. body analysis machine at Kaminski Pain and Performance Care in Bettendorf, IA. I used a lower tech. handheld version last year and the lowest I got was 12%. I always believed it was wrong but when a 2nd machine told me how high I was...I began to accept that I needed to make a change. Getting to a competitive weight for endurance sports has never been easy for me. I struggled in high school and college when my race weight almost always was a predictor for how fast I was running...after college it was really rough. Getting leaner this year was at the top of my goal list. I felt the benefits of getting leaner in the year I went from amateur racing at 175 lbs. to to earning my pro license at 162 lbs. It was a huge difference. Last year I typically raced in the 158-160 range managing to get to 155 before Ironman Arizona. Despite thinking I was lean my body fat % bottomed out in the 12% range and my core certainly showed I had plenty of dead weight I was carrying around with me for 140.6 miles. When my brother approached me with the idea of joining his New Year's Biggest Loser Weight loss competition I jumped at the chance. Not because that is what it would take to get me to lose weight but because the start of his competition coincidentally came at the end of my 5 week break from anything resembling training and I had a lot of weight to lose. My goals for losing the weight were not for his competition but to get lean for race season. On Dec. 31st after a dinner at Olive Garden when I ate too much bread, enjoyed a huge meal of pasta and a couple drinks I decided I wasn't full enough and stopped at McDonalds on the way home for an Eggnog Shake. By the time I pulled the car into the garage I thought my stomach was going to explode. I was pretty disappointed in myself and got on the scale for a starting weight...179.8 lbs. I lost quite a bit quickly when I started training but I leveled off in the low 160 range for about 5-6 weeks. That is when I had my last body fat test (on Feb. 28) and found I had only dropped from 18.3% (early January)down to 16.7%. War was declared on 16% a week after that and I began counting calories. I put myself on a pretty strict 3,000 calorie diet that I've only blown up three times on. People who think I must be hungry on 3,000 calories are very wrong. I eat a LOT of food. The food is extremely clean now compared to what I used to eat. I probably get half the volume of my food from fruits and vegetables. In general I eat a lot of lean protein (chicken breast is the go to food here), I get most of my carbohydrates from whole grain sources, and as mentioned above the fruits and veggies fill the hunger. After 3 weeks of tracking my eating I went back to see my progress on this war. I already knew the results...they showed before I walked through the doors. Some of the signs...
1. The "skinny" jeans Jen bought me last year actually needed a belt.
2. Kids in my class told me my dress pants didn't fit right (and they are right)
3. Payton came in our bedroom with my wedding ring that had apparently slipped off my finger while reading to her the night before
4. My Timex wrist watch has been moved from notch 3 to notch 2 for the first time I can remember
5. My stomach...nicknamed "Buddy" by my college teammates has nearly disappeared
6. I saw a vein in my chest I didn't know existed the other day
7. I get cold a lot easier than I used to
8. I'm biking better than I ever have without the heavy base of training that will come later
I got tested and the results confirmed my suspicions...9.3% body fat%. I had dropped over 7% in 4 weeks (3 weeks tracking food). I weighed 11 lbs. less on the scale when they had me weigh in. They said my pounds of body fat went from 27 down to 14 and that I actually gained 2 lbs of muscle...how's that for all the people that said I would lose strength on 3,000 calories...not when I'm getting 200 grams/protein a day.
Today was my last weigh in for the competition. I was standing in 2nd place overall of the 26 people going into this week with calculations based on % of weight lost. It's been incredible what my brother has put together. 26 individuals...some of whom he doesn't even know...have lost a combined weight of over 650 lbs!! That's over 20 lbs./person. We sent my brother photos of our weight every week for the past 13 weeks. My older brother Justin lost 40 lbs!!! My younger brother Josh has lost about 25!! The guy who was winning going into this week has almost lost 60 lbs. Every person lost at least 3.5% of their body weight. 2 guys lost weight every week during the challenge. The average person lost over 10% body weight! My brother was awesome at sending motivation each week and creating a facebook page for the group to help share healthy ideas for recipes, working out, and keeping each other motivated. He had weekly competitions so everyone had chances to earn back their $50.00 entry. The money that wasn't spent during the weekly competitions is to be given to the top 10 losers after today's final weigh in. My brother even reserved a couple hundred bucks from entries for a June/July weigh in to pay those who lose the most since we finish up this "regular season" competition. His goal was to inspire lifestyle changes and he thought since 99% of Americans give up on New Year's Resolutions within 8 weeks he wanted this to last longer. He thought for sure some of the 24 members would stop sending him pictures of their weight at some point during the competition but he reported that everyone has continued to send him the pictures. I felt a bit like a wrestler cutting weight yesterday into this morning. I had my biggest training day so far this year at 6 hrs. 15 minutes yesterday on 1,500 calories and then rode for 1 hour as a "Last Chance Workout" this morning before my weigh in. I realize this weigh in would not be a "race weight" but that's pretty much how every Monday weigh in has gone for me over the past 3 years. The outcome...
I will now begin to increase my calorie consumption slowly until I get my body fat % in the 6-7 range. Then I will up my calories to match what I'm burning and I should feel better than ever. I've been pleasantly surprised with how great I've felt on 3,000 because the quality of the 3,000 is so high. When I move that # to 5,000 and continue with the high quality it should be amazing. This move to track my nutrition and limit to 3,000 calories was a high risk gamble. It could have gone terrible. I could have gotten sick or worse yet injured. If you've been around since this journey began you know I've always been one to gamble on the chance to be great. I gave up coaching 3 sports I loved so I could take this journey. I train at a very high level of volume for someone who has a full-time job outside of triathlon along with being a husband and father of two children. That gamble lead to surgery on my achilles tendon in 2010. I said then I would not change my gambling approach and I haven't. My new leaner frame has me DREAMING BIGGER than ever before. For the week I ran 65 miles, biked 180, and swam 18000 yards to go along with the regular weight lifting, plyometrics, lunges, jump rope, push-ups, and core work.
In other news, Jen and I are getting closer to our Live Uncommon fundraising goal of $1500.00. Thanks to Zeb and Jasmine Gilliam, Chris and Lindsay Robb, Luke and Meghan Cooley, Jamie and Brian Cronkleton, Gravert Auto Sales LLC., Tim and Melanie Johnson, my parents Barb and Darrell Paul, and Adam Bohach for the help this week. We are so very grateful to have your support as we work to help the charities involved with the races on the Live Uncommon Race Circuit. If you would like to support our causes you can click here to make a tax deductible donation to help us reach our goal. I'm on the new bike. I want to get some pictures before I announce it. My old bike has sadly been taken apart and is being sold on ebay with a few things that came on my new bike. Thanks Orbea for the great ride! I'll have fond memories but the time for a change is now. Thanks for reading! DREAM BIG!!