How to Stop Gaining Weight

10.10.2011 | 9:00 am

Autumn is, objectively measured, the finest season for biking. The leaves are changing, with the leaves on some trees turning so extraordinarily red in such a short time that they catch you off guard when you see them. The days are no longer hot; you finish some rides having finished only one bottle of water.

And you are as fit and as light as you are going to be all year, reaping the rewards of the work you have done during the spring and summer — except now you can just enjoy that fitness, instead of having to drive toward some goal (a race, an event) that you have arbitrarily assigned importance to.

Autumn is also when the pounds start sneaking back on. And I mean “sneaking” in the most sinister, underhanded way possible.

Today, I shall explain why you gain weight beginning in the autumn, and what you can do to stop it, before it’s too late.

What Happens, And Why

When autumn begins, you’re as fit as you’re going to be that year. You’ve lost any winter weight you’re going to lose. You’ve gained any fitness you’re going to gain. And in general, you’re probably feeling pretty darned good about yourself.

Say, for example — and this is just a hypothetical example, because I don’t want to point any fingers — you spent a good part of the spring dropping from the 170’s into the 150’s, and building a good strong riding base. Then you spent the entire summer building upon that base with both riding intensity and endurance rides, so that by the time you did some of your biggest events, you were demonstrably the fittest you have ever been in your life.

You might find that that strength holds up pretty darned well even though you’re no longer training for anything. And by “no longer training for anything,” I mean “no longer really training at all.”

But you’re still able to ride strong. Almost as if by magic.

There’s a pretty good chance that this “Hey, I’m fit without having to even try anymore” philosophy will begin to extend into your eating habits. Like, you might continue to stick to the diet plan mostly, but perhaps you go out to eat a few times per week, instead of observing the previously-strict “one restaurant meal per week” rule.

And maybe you stop saying no to dessert.

And maybe you start putting cheese on top of your egg whites, because it makes the “egg whites and avocado” diet so much more delicious.

And so does a piece of toast under the egg, by the way.

And you’ve probably taken a couple of trips, and during those trips you haven’t had any kind of discipline about your diet at all.

And now it’s too dark to ride in the morning, and it gets dark earlier, too — so all your rides are shorter. And, oddly, slower.

And your scale is gathering dust. Not that you’re afraid of what it might say about your laxness, per se, but more that you’re feeling good, feeling strong, your clothes are only a little tighter than they were a month ago, and you’re just not really in the mood for bad news.

And (I promise, by the way, this will be the last paragraph I start with “and” for at least a little while) then the weather suddenly shifts and is ugly-cold. Not to mention snowy.


Yes, yes, I know. I live in a beautiful area, and the first snow fall is enchanting. But from the perspective of someone who already endured a late spring and a late summer and is now a little bit disgruntled at the prospect of an early winter?

My perspective is this: Yuck.

Oh yes. I was writing this in second person. I forgot. Sorry.

Perhaps you might find yourself unprepared for such a turn of events, weather-wise. You might discover you are unwilling to go out riding in such nasty conditions. Or running. Or doing anything at all.

For like, three days in a row.

But then — because you have signed up to do the Death Valley Trail Marathon in a couple months, you go out on a six-mile run. It hurts a little more than you remember six miles hurting, but you get through it OK.

And then, a couple days later, because your spouse is a little bit obsessive about training plans and properly preparing for races, you go out on a fifteen-mile run.

And it completely knocks you flat. I mean worse than flat. Like, since “flat” is two-dimensional, let’s say that “worse than flat” is one-dimensional. Which means, I suppose, that this fifteen mile run knocks you linear.

That was a long way to go for a pretty stupid joke. I apologize.

But the reality is that you didn’t even get to the turning point before you wanted to turn around. And you started needing to take little one-minute walking breaks every mile by the time you had run nine miles. And then the walking breaks started happening every half mile. And by the final mile, you had stopped running altogether, a fact your spouse would not realize for some time because she had gapped you by a mile and a half.

The next day, you weigh yourself. The news is not good. Specifically, you are back at 165 pounds.

Which is nine pounds gained since your lowest weight of the season, 156 pounds. Which means you are, incidentally, on the cusp of moving up a jersey size. Or, if you were to be completely honest, maybe a pound or two past that cusp. You are post-cusp, jersey-size-wise.

Whatever would you do in this (surprisingly detailed and specific) hypothetical scenario?

How to Stop Gaining Weight

The truth is, it’s really easy to start coasting once you hit autumn, putting on a few pounds here and there. Building some weight-gaining momentum early, so that by the time you hit winter you’ve got a full head of steam.

So how do you reverse that trend, before it’s too late (OK, it’s actually never too late, but “before it’s too late” sound more dramatic than “before it’s . . . later”)?

Easy. Simply follow this time-tested set of easy steps:

  1. Always have a goal. One that’s not too far down the road, preferably. Like maybe my goal would be, “I do not want my quads to squish into my gut when I go riding with the Core Team in Moab a month from now, and I do not want to break down and cry when I do the Death Valley Trail Marathon with The Hammer two months from now.”
  2. Forget about those goals for a couple of weeks, or at least delude yourself into thinking that they’re far enough away that you don’t have to worry about them quite yet. After all, Fall Moab is still technically more than a month away, and it’s not like anyone else (except Kenny and Brad) is going to be in tip-top condition for the weekend, either. So I still have time to train.
  3. Eat what you want. Don’t intentionally pig out or anything. Just don’t say no to dessert. And if the meal you eat tastes good, feel free to have seconds. And it’s so much easier to go to sleep at night if you don’t have an empty stomach.
  4. Avoid the scale for a few weeks. There are lots of good reasons to not step on the scale. “I don’t want to put myself in a bad mood” is a good one. So is, “I’ll eat light today and weigh myself tomorrow so my starting weight isn’t so huge” is a good one also. And “I just don’t feel like it” is startlingly effective, perhaps because of its simplicity. You’ll find you can come up with other good reasons of your own. In fact, you probably already have.
  5. Do a ride (or run or other workout) that was difficult-but-do-able — for you a month or so ago. You’ll find it to be difficult. Perhaps very difficult indeed. Perhaps you’ll even find that it completely shatters your image of yourself as a fit individual.
  6. Finally get up the courage to weigh yourself. Emit audible gasp. Reach out a hand to steady yourself. Wonder at how it’s possible you’ve gained all that much (turn off the part of your brain that actually knows precisely how it was possible).

I believe you will find, suddenly, the resolve to renew your diet and exercise regimen. Completely, seriously, and fully.

This resolve should last nearly until lunchtime.


  1. Comment by Dave T | 10.10.2011 | 9:26 am

    I to can relate the new fat cyclist jersey that arrived a few weeks ago is now feeling a bit small. It must have shrunk a bit in the first wash.

  2. Comment by Heidi | 10.10.2011 | 9:42 am

    Technically, I don’t think Autumn is considered a month, but you may be on to something…

  3. Comment by yannb | 10.10.2011 | 9:47 am

    How ironic, the right side ad is for 1-800-getthin! Karen and I started a weight loss challenge last night. 10% weight loss by christmas. that’s 22 lbs for me in 2 months. Maybe will try the avocado/egg white diet.

  4. Comment by Franky | 10.10.2011 | 9:57 am

    Yes, it could also be that your perception of losing your fitness is a result of a mechanical failure. Like I experienced. After coming home from a visit overseas my scale added 10 lbs to my previous weight. I need another scale…

  5. Comment by YahooRob | 10.10.2011 | 10:09 am

    I’m at that stage where I don’t want to get on the scale … But I did this morning anyway. Stupid, stupid, stupid!!! Back in the Clydesdale category.

    Yann, mind if I join your goal of 10% by Christmas? That’s 20 lbs for me.


  6. Comment by stephb | 10.10.2011 | 10:45 am

    What ever happened with the Plus 3 Network? Maybe we need to spend SRAM’s money as motivation.

  7. Comment by Jenn | 10.10.2011 | 11:03 am

    “Guess who’s back? Fatty’s back, Fatty’s back, Fatty’s back…” (there’s a back-fat joke in there somewhere)

  8. Comment by Sara | 10.10.2011 | 11:40 am

    LOL! We must all share the same brain because I just started a competition at my office to lose 10% by Dec. 19th. The kicker of this one, though, is that the weight loss must be MAINTAINED until Jan. 30! I have 18 people signed up so far. This was my way of finally re-losing the weight from Fatty’s weight loss challenge last year – I couldn’t do it without the competition!

  9. Comment by Diana | 10.10.2011 | 11:42 am

    Take up lap swimming. Problem solved. You can swim all year round. Also, since you are half naked all the time, there is added incentive to keep fit.

  10. Comment by Boz | 10.10.2011 | 11:51 am

    I’m going to have a piece of fresh apple pie and think about this blog entry for awhile. Maybe take a nap too.

  11. Comment by martin | 10.10.2011 | 12:01 pm

    i’m inspired to be vigilant- looks like eggs & avocados for daddy…

  12. Comment by Nick P | 10.10.2011 | 12:03 pm

    As much as I appreciate the advice on how to curb fall weight gain (and how, sadly, applicable it is), implementing said advice required the process of weight gain to have already commenced. Wouldn’t it be much more productive to offer advice on prevention, or is that asking too much?

  13. Comment by roan | 10.10.2011 | 12:22 pm

    Sorry to say this but I’m with Boz…fresh warm apple pie and a cup of coffee, as I ponder skipping dinner.

  14. Comment by Liz | 10.10.2011 | 12:28 pm

    Glad I got the salad for lunch before sitting down to read this posting. Best wishes to everyone, me included, struggling with this sinister, but hypothetical, problem.

  15. Comment by skippy | 10.10.2011 | 12:33 pm

    Just knew there was a reason you left the ” Weight loss to June chart” for us all to see ! Back to 13th May weight after flying the ” pond ” and next comp. is going to be a ” Lose 10lb”!

    Last thursday was the last chance for the Zillertal Hohenstrasser and i came home at 78kg . With heavy rain and snow above 600m , very little chance to ride the last days , just an hour here and there between down pours . Lunchtime today hovering at 80kg and no chance i can join a weight loss campaign even if i stop eating chocs and icecream after dinner .

    Someone please advise where the instructions for the Plus 3 program is as i need to find a way to dump the 20k kms for the season . Hate to see the charity miss out on that benefit so whoever loads the detail can claim the credit !

    Just saw that WWPinc was in UK with Help4Heroes / Soldiers Ride the past 10 days ! Guess some of those guys will be there next year for the ” Para Games “!

    Darren congrats on an amazing effort !

  16. Comment by MattC | 10.10.2011 | 12:40 pm

    Hey Fatty…you could have made this post real short by simply writing

    “How to stop gaining weight?


    Ship it to Matt.”

    That’s it…post over, time for lunch.

    Of course, my idea for your post isn’t very funny, or long, or eloquent, or anything else that your posts normally are. But hey…it works for me. And in the end, that’s all that really matters. So…I’m offering my services free of charge…just let me know what’s for dinner. I’ll be ready (unless it’s liver & onions, or brussel sprouts. You can keep those. But everything else is good).

    Bring it ON!

  17. Comment by Bikemike | 10.10.2011 | 1:38 pm

    This is all great happy-schmappy feel good talk but unless you can send someone over to my house that physically yanks the food from my hand and hits me in the head with a 2 x 4, this article may as well be a work of fiction. Pretty words, though.

  18. Comment by david lazar | 10.10.2011 | 2:02 pm

    Two ideas: Weight-lifting, which is great off-season cross-training, and cross-country skiing, which keeps up the cardio.

  19. Comment by aussie kev | 10.10.2011 | 2:18 pm

    aussie kev is thinking of starting up the “stunt diet” , he needs to loose at least 10 kg before track racing resumes on friday evening !!!!

  20. Comment by Gabi | 10.10.2011 | 2:33 pm

    Sad to say this post describes me. The snow last week temporarily killed my weight loss/fitness motivation.

  21. Comment by MattC | 10.10.2011 | 3:03 pm

    @ Bikemike…what’s your address? Just got back from a month trip (purpose: yanking food from a guy’s mouth and hitting him on the head w/ my 2×4)…so I’m in good yank’in n whackin’ form just now. I have a new 2×4 ready to go and I’m available…and just what are the sleeping arrangements? I prefer a memory foam mattress…not too cold, not too hot…maybe a little fan going. But I’m not to picky…

  22. Comment by Wife# 1 | 10.10.2011 | 3:18 pm

    Posting this ONLY for those of you doing the Livestrong ride in Austin. AK Chick, Paul Guyot and anyone else visiting Austin. Everyone else, cover your ears and eyes.

    You must eat Bob Armstrong Dip at Matt’s El Rancho

    More fatty goodness than anywhere on the planet other than maybe Eldon himself!!!

    “You absolutely cannot go to Matt’s El Rancho without ordering Bob Armstrong Dip. This classic has been added to most Mexican restaurants in the Austin area and nothing comes close to the original! I was fortunate enough to meet the REAL Bob Armstrong at Matt’s one night and was honored to meet this 80 year-old queso god! A mixture of queso, ground beef and guacamole is sure to make for one happy customer!”

    Now back to talk of dieting for y’all. I’ll join that conversation when the ice cream leftover from the Girl Scout meeting last night is no longer in my freezer. ;-)

  23. Comment by evil3 | 10.10.2011 | 4:13 pm

    I have to try this going linear thing. I have been flat out exhausted, but I’m not sure if I have gone linear. Well I might have gone linear quite a few times, but because that term didn’t exist yet, so I will say that experience was just going flat.

    Ok no more carrying on a bad joke, so I will go to bed now, so you don’t have to read my horrible English (note I really am going to bed at 6pm central time, as I work an 3rdish shift (I have to be at work at 3:30am central time)).

  24. Comment by Sansauto | 10.10.2011 | 4:47 pm

    How to not gain weight… My personal favorite is the Hollywood Diet. It is a drink that you use and just follow the directions. On the back of the bottle it says, “For best results, don’t eat”. I have found that it doesn’t even take the overpriced drink. If I don’t eat, I don’t gain weight.

  25. Comment by azpoolguy | 10.10.2011 | 6:58 pm

    You can always come to AZ and race thru the winter. That way you will never have a shortage of goals to obtain.

  26. Comment by Mark in Ottawa | 10.10.2011 | 7:15 pm

    This entry is right on the money, and couldn’t have been better timed, because today, of all days, is Canadian Thanksgiving. I’m so stuffed I can hardly reach the keys to my laptop due to my protruding post-dinner belly!

    I guess tomorrow is back on the wagon.

    Mark (in Ottawa, Canada)

    P.S. LOVE the new banner photo!

  27. Comment by Craig | 10.10.2011 | 7:46 pm

    …so is it bad that after my hour-and-twenty minute ride this evening, I convinced myself that cherry cobbler and chocolate ice cream was a good recovery dinner since it has sugar AND protein?

  28. Comment by ChristineV | 10.10.2011 | 10:34 pm

    You can always race cross. That is what I am doing to keep the weight off and the training on track. More cowbells please.

  29. Comment by Clydesteve | 10.10.2011 | 11:04 pm

    I really liked the Geometry joke…

    Now, for something actually bicycle related, check out this YouTube:

    This will make you think you ride in the safest place ever. This looks more risky then any high exposure cliff riding you will ever do, barring Wildebeests on the cliff with you.

  30. Comment by Tim | 10.10.2011 | 11:10 pm

    Having stopped smoking, dropped 60lbs since Jan this year. Raced in two triathlons (8th on the bike in one of them) Ridden more miles than I care to work out although I’m secretly obsessive about that kind of thing and know I have nearly done 2000 since April. The snow that arrived on Saturday here in Colorado completely depressed me. They postponed the breast cancer ride we wete going to do and I sat indoors and reached for a big bag of chips … oh dear!
    Happily its warming up, I got a 3/4 mile swim in at lunchtime and am looking forward to a solid ride on Wednesday. All thoughts of chips have been banished. I have even started myfitnesspal again after a couple of months off. Just got to summon he courage to get back on the scale :0)

  31. Comment by Jen Mac | 10.11.2011 | 6:26 am

    Next time you post photos of snow, please add a “graphic, gruesome photos” warning at the beginning of the post. Yikes.

  32. Comment by Doug (Way upstate NY) | 10.11.2011 | 7:07 am

    Looks like it is almost time for ski and luge season! Can’t wait.

  33. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Back Up On The Horse | 10.11.2011 | 8:38 am

    [...] « How to Stop Gaining Weight [...]

  34. Comment by Red UGG Boots | 10.11.2011 | 9:10 am

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  35. Comment by JWM | 10.11.2011 | 10:58 am

    I have found myself in a similar situation other than “starting fall in the best shape of my life”. In pondering solutions, I ordered one of those “fat bikes” for winter (surly moonlander). I am only left contemplating what I do UNTIL it gets here..

    Thanks for the ideas.

    so, no cheese nor bread on the eggs? oh, I see.

  36. Comment by Jason | 10.15.2011 | 9:09 pm

    I am not sure where to post this but I just wanted to say. When I ordered my fat cyclist tech T I thought it would be way to big since I ordered the 3xl and I had to wait awhile to get the shirt. I had been working out and thought I was on the right track. I had been just doing spinning classes about 3 to 4 times a week. I then found a bike ride I wanted to go on. there were two route, a 30 and a 62. I really wanted to do the 62 but had to ride the 30 because of the people I was riding with. I really felt like I was going to fly and have to remind myself to slow down for my group. lets just say I was in pain, it was very hard and it was only 30 miles. I had a hard time keeping up and very disappointed. I thought I had been putting in the time but for some reason the spinning classes didn’t help. Well time went on and I got my email about my Fat cyclist t-shirt. I was so happy to get it and then I put it on and it is way to small. I can’t tell you how unhappy I was and still am. It seems this 3 xl is not a US size because my other 3xl shirts are big on me. I am not sure what else to say, but I hope people on here will understand why I posted this message.


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