Why I’m a fat bastard

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Guy Leech last week. ‘Leechy’ as he is affectionately known here in Australia has been one of our most successful elite athletes. Ironman Champion (The Australian surf kind not the 140.6 kind, though some would argue equally as tough as they do all of their running on soft sand), Olympian, Coach to Superstars and the rest.

It was interesting listening to him speak about the way he is so successful and what has driven him to success over the years. If I was to distill his presentation and our subsequent conversation down to a few words I’d say

  • Have a real driver as to why you are doing something
  • Have written goals
  • Have a plan
  • Write everything down and test & measure
  • Be accountable to someone

All of which I know, but all of which I’ve been slowly failing to do over the past few months, especially when it come to diet.

But he inspired me to get back on the wagon again and really chase down why I’m continually overweight.

The only challenge is that I’ve been through the cycle before. I’ve worked with a number of different nutritionists, written down the program, measured my food to the letter, had the weekly follow up chats AND my weight still goes up. The only way I’ve managed to get weight off is to starve myself, which lasts for a few weeks then the weight goes straight back on over time.

Well it just so happens that in the post about two weeks ago I received a new Garmin Fenix 3 to replace my recently defunct 310XT. After getting over the hype bit and the fun stuff about how fast I was running, navigating my way up and down dale, I got in to having a look at the health related stuff. One of the great things about the Fenix 3 is that in addition to all the sports information, it does some basic things like count steps, measure energy expenditure, measure my sleep etc etc.

So I set it up and then just left it to monitor what I’m doing for a day or two.

THE RESULTS

Actually the results were horrifying and were a real eye opener and have given me an insight into why all the nutrition plans I’ve been following have failed.

I had always assumed that I was really active, especially with all the training I do. Weeeelllllll, actually I’m not. In fact my step count on the first couple of days barely reached the minimum for the general population and that was including an 8km run each day. Basically with my sedentary job, I’m simply not moving enough and running is only just getting me to a minimum. This would also explain why the nutrition plans don’t work for me. When training for something like Ironman, there is an expectation that the athlete is generally active and then trains on top.

Secondly I am aerobically very fit. Years of endurance training enables me to do long distances with relative ease. There is a sting in the tail with this though. Being aerobically fit, I don’t burn calories at the same rate as the general population when exercising. In fact a 90min jog only burnt about 600 calories (measured by my actual heart rate) when the text books say I should have burnt 900-1000calories.

So I have a double whammy here. I eat like an Ironman or an Ultra Runner with lots of food but I’m not exercising or burning energy like one. No wonder I’m struggling with my weight.

So what to do?

Well for the moment I’ve become a numbers Nazi. Between my garmin measuring my activity and MyFitnesspal measuring my food consumption down to the calorie, I’m getting a much better handle on what I’m actually doing with my body. i.e. Actual energy in vs Actual energy out.

And there have been a couple of quick fixes. My daily steps have jumped dramatically (in fact doubled) and my food has dropped to match what I should be consuming.

Let’s see what the results bring in the next couple of weeks.

PS: On the ankle front, I’m running again but very unstable on rough terrain. NF100 is in serious doubt but a final decision hasn’t been taken yet.