Right now, I am learning what I have learned many times before: the first week of a diet is incredibly difficult. First, it’s tough because I’m constantly having to override my grazing instinct. Several times each evening (and during the whole day during the weekend), both before and after dinner, I find myself standing in front of the pantry or fridge. I’ve got the door open and am automatically scanning for something to throw in my mouth.
Second, it’s tough because I have to get used to not always feeling full, and that includes at bedtime. And while I get used to that feeling, I have a hard time sleeping. And I get grouchy. I’ve got to watch what I say, to coworkers, to my wife, and to my kids. Keep the brain-to-mouth filter turned up to 11, and maybe install a backup filter, just in case the first one fails.
I do know one thing: my diet does work for me, when I follow it. I lose weight, at a reasonable rate, without losing power on the bike. Here are the essentials:
Ordinarily, I am incredible at rationalizing. I’m good at coming up with a reason why it’s OK for me to go out to eat because I haven’t seen this friend in at least a couple weeks. Or that it’s OK for me to eat a handful of pretzels because they’ve got no fat in them. If I want to lose weight, though, I need to have a couple absolutes:
- No grazing. At all. I know that once I start, I don’t stop. I eat during my mealtimes (of which there are 5 daily)
- Weigh myself every morning. Especially the mornings following a day when I screwed up. I say to myself, “Oh, it’ll just depress me; I’ll skip today so I don’t have to see what the spike in weight was.” Well, now it’s important to see what kind of damage I’ve done, so I don’t go doing it again.
I base my diet primarily on a few principles:
- I will continue to eat lots of carbohydrates; they’re what I like best and they keep me strong on the bike.
- If I eat five servings of raw fruits and vegetables daily, everything else pretty much takes care of itself.
- I don’t measure out quantities; I know how much is reasonable.
- Pasta is my friend. Just don’t use rich sauces.
- In fact, don’t eat anything rich. It’s not so much calories that are the enemy as the concentration of calories.
I don’t have lots of foods that are crossed off my list of things that are OK to eat. But I do keep the fridge and pantry stocked with a few things that I like:
- Dannon Light ‘n Fit Yogurt: I’ve eaten this kind of yogurt for more than a year: no fat, only 90 calories. Last week, Dannon mailed (yes, mailed) me some samples of their new version of this kind of yogurt: now it has only 60 calories, and it tastes even better. I’m a big fan of the vanilla, peach, and blueberry flavors. This new version isn’t available in stores yet (it will be later this month), so I’m hoarding my stash.
- Whole grain breads: One of my favorite foods in the world is Great Harvest’s white bread. Whole grain’s better for you, though; I’m off the white, and onto the wheat.
- Grapefruit: I don’t understand why, but I’ve discovered that if I eat a grapefruit at night, I’m not as hungry the rest of the night and don’t have the graze instinct quite as bad. Also, grapefruit is one of my very favorite foods in the world.
- Pasta + cottage cheese + lots and lots and lots of ground pepper: I could eat this every day, and when I’m dieting, often do. Carbs, protein, calcium, not much fat. Lots of bulk without much penalty.
- Fiber 1: For breakfast. It does its job.
- Water, water, water: Half a gallon of it, every day. Every diet I’ve ever seen includes lots of water as part of the program, and cyclists need to train their bodies to be good at drinking lots of water to stay hydrated.
- Apples: Golden Delicious and Jonagolds are my favorite. I can and do eat two or three apples per day. The weird thing is, apples seem to make me hungrier. I still like them, though.
- Bananas: Nature’s Twinkies. Genius bike builder and noted vegan Matt Chester eats around twenty of these per day. And he sleeps on a bed of leaves.
- Carrots: Every time you eat a carrot, you lose an ounce. It’s a well known fact, which I just made up.
- Mushrooms: Wash the manure off first, though.
- Peppers: Yellow peppers taste more like a fruit than a vegetable.
- Tuna: Add fat-free mayo, mustard, and pickle relish, put on a rice cake, and completely blacken it with ground pepper and you’ve got a meal that’s very nearly tolerable.
I Will Never Gain This Weight Again
As I go through this first week of dieting (last week was also the first week, but it didn’t work out so well), I keep finding myself saying, “When I finally get to my target weight, I’m never going to put this weight on again.”
This, I know, is a lie. I fully expect this year to hit my target weight — 150 — but will almost certainly hit 170 again within 18 months. Or within six months, if I’m going to be honest with myself (which I am not). I am a human yoyo.
But it is my intention to be one hell of a fast yoyo this summer.
I used to post my weight daily on this site, and beginning February 1, I will do so again. I’m giving myself the month of January to lose weight in private, as an extra incentive. Basically, knowing that I’ve got to go public with whatever weight I’m at in February is a huge motivator to get back down to something a little less embarrassing.
Banjo Brothers Bike Bag Contest Winner
There were lots of good confessions in this week’s contest. The truth is, though, this time it was easy for me to pick one, because it seems like Craig reached right into my head and pulled out a lie I use every year:
OK, so I’m not losing weight as fast as I thought. But, that’s OK. Training with this extra 30 pounds later into the spring will only ultimately increase my power. So when I do lose that extra weight and finally look like Rasmussen, I will be “climber extraordinaire.”
Ballooning up like I’m pregnant every fall is part of my power-building training plan.
Congratulations, Craig. Email me with your address and whether you want the messenger bag or pannier setup.
Bonus Awesome Present from Awesome Sister
Perfect cool-weather long-sleeved jersey (which, for my morning rides, is 9 months out of the year here), with big pockets in the back. Very bright and visible on the road, with a Brooklyn cool factor I don’t even come close to deserving.