Sunday, 10 August 2014

Middle Aged Spread....winning the battle

Just an update and it is good news.

My seemingly unambitious plan of a kilo per month is on track, down to 114kg which was a surpise since we have been on holiday, more on that later in another blogg.

My aim is slow weight loss reflecting an undramatic change in diet and lifestyle, just concentrating on removing high calorie "luxury extras" and prelonging training sessions to over 2hours duration. Here are more tips for the active still sporty yet lardy 40 something:

1) count your extra calories per week and mulitply by four. Include in this tally, any more than two glasses of sugary drinks per day, and all beer ,snacks, sweets, cakes, desserts and extra/double helpings of dinner. Wow. You will find you are a fat bugger over 16 or 18 stone because each month you are consuming 7000 to 14000 kcal in "extras". Each hour of training down the gymn or whatever is only maybe effectively 600kcal and all of that is glucose and glycogen.

2) now limit yourself to a level of life's little extras which add up to 3500 kcal max per month. That is twelve beers or ten slices of cake if you like, but think per week with a max of two beers per week, one cake, one extra portion dinner, one post training extra portion dinner/lunch, 50g crisps or nuts per week and one single orange juice (250ml)  per day and one single diluted squash per day.

3) now change your training style and duration. A minimum of five hours quite vigourous exercise per week in three or four longer sessions. My target has been seven hours per week, base five hours from two long sessions.

Aim then to have 2 hour sessions three times a week as a target. These have to be aerobic, sustained with heartbeat over 120 bpm which means good breathing and a fair degree of sweating! One of the three sessions can be easier going, such as brisk walking, gentler cycling, walking in the hills, badminton, kayaking.

If you only manage to fit in two sessions per week then try to stretch them out to two and a half hours each such that you switch on fat burning and burn more. Every half hour over 'one and a half hours' at medium intense will burn a lot of fat and your body will go on burning fat for some time after you stop exercising ( that being if you avoid sugary drinks and snacks. )

Consider stretching your duration out to four hours for one session a week,  with only light eating and take a rest day after being careful not to over compensate with food: when out on a longer session,  if you near 3 hours and feel empty, eat no more than a bannana and some nuts or a slice of bread with margarine.

Sports drinks can be packed with calories, watch out. No matter a promise of slow release, the complex carbo ones  are really for endurance atheletes or as meal substitutes. Choose instead lighter calorie isotonic drinks to take around three hours and drink only water until that point.

If you are pushed for available time to make up five hours total say from a single four or two twos, then do an hour or two half hour session which include hard conditioning training after a warm up. This will help your body become more muscular and fitter so you burn more calories per hour total next time you train at low intensity.  Aim though to do three longer, two hour or longer sessions though as your outset if you want to loose more than say 8 kg.

Also try to use more "grey" calories by walking around more at work or to the shops, school run etc . There are seven days in a week ! Throw in extra small sessions of jogging or cycling or play a quick bit of football with colleagues or your kids for half an hour or more. Weight training is purely additional as desired, it should not be part of the core long sessions.

4) split your "eating week" up as monday to sunday so you avoid friday-saturday being split and tempting more mini binge eating in two days. Also having the whole weekend means that you can achieve your five hours training per week if you have been too busy during the week.

5) two hour sessions can make you hungry to begin with: plan around meals with this in mind- take a healthy packed lunch or fruit / nuts with you to have after exercise as a meal. In the evening eat a lighter dinner before training, with no dessert and then have a bannana or other slow fruit like pears right after training. Avoid snacking or extra "make up" portions, you can only have one of those a week. 

6)  Wine, pure spirits and fruit are  "free":  except for avoiding more than two bannas and more than a handful of grapes a day, or downing a whole bottle of wine yourself on friday night.

7) try and break the "beer and nuts" pavlovian cycle. Drink your two beers without access to snacks! Have your 50g crisps another time as a treat, especially when you have sweated a lot one day when training.

8) Avoid eating dinner after 19:30. Aim to do at least one of your two hour sessions on an evening in your first week after an early dinner to break old habits of either sitting by the TV or eating at 9pm after the gymn.

9) set a total goal of weight loss and then realise how long this is going to take at a kilo per month  (an achievable loss rate: this will be your minimum loss if on this regime strictly, beleive me !) : for me it is a sixteen kilo weight loss and i expect to be half way after six months, a kilo a month and then a little burst of long sessions before winter comes and i have to move indoors or to xc skis.

10) Remember this may be your best chance to enjoy being on the young side of middle aged, slim and trained:  and as in anything worth achieving, it will take effort and moving outside your comfort zone.

The hardest is to maintain three long exercise sessions a week: think then that these are indeed, probably an hour more than your current sessions and you need to work this hour in by changing job and family logistics more than any grim determination. 120 bpm is quite light and easy to maintain for two hours if you have an underlying fitness from shorter sessions. Also you can take short breaks of upto 5.minutes or freewheel downhills if cycling in that two hours as long as your heart rate does not fall below 120.

Set then a target : for me it is  now 14kg, ( from 18kg , I lost two already some more slowly in the winter before i counted up my wee treats to 7000kcal per month, and then have lost two more per month now on this regime and with a holiday which messed it up a bit but not completely ,see later blogg to follow !),  and I therefore am prepared to work 14 more months at it. Period. If my VO2 max goes up enough to burn more fat quicker then great,  so be it, but I am in for the long haul from this point forward as much I have been the last months. Patience ,self discipline and hard work, no quick fix.

11) from the last point - I found it really quite easy to break the two hour barrier, and did it in my first session on xc skis of the season having previously shot out for an hour to one and a half hour session in all my time on skis. Summer cycling sessions were often over two hours to begin with, but i just got fitter and did the same routes faster and lost only a bit of weight !  Back off and enjoy the view. Concentrate on technique in your sport for endurance, this can help make time go quicker or encourage some tips from people you train with underway to pass time. But to the core of it: You get sweaty. Your heart pounds.  You breath hard ......You do this for two hours! 

12) Work in some ways of "cheating" your time allowance in getting that level of intensity going and up to two hours or more. One session at least can be brisk walking, but that is best done with a back pack to keep up the intensity and burn 600kcal per hour instead of the 400kcal brisk walking can burn. You get sweaty. Your heart pounds. You do this for two hours!  Building up the weight you carry to 10kg for ladies, 15 to 20kg for men depending on build and your joints! Cheating a hard walk into your week to make a session or two, can mean bus or lift to the shops, walk home via a park, or a commuting walk home with a pack on a long detour. This may replace your direct half hour jog or cycle home from work twice a week, which will not have been burning fat and may have been counter productive in giving you a bigger appetite when you get home for dinner. On that point-  Alternatively Take a packed dinner to work, eat it after 4pm while you work, and then go a longer bike run into the evening straight from work, including the commuting time, or play a double round of soccer, or three sessions in the aerobics studio: think like this instead of that one quick, intense burst followed by dinner and TV. You will find that the two hours can go surprisingly quickly. If it bores you, then take a sports mP3 player with something good or even a talking. book downloaded onto it, or listen to radio discussion and new programmes (not good for cyclists in traffic though!!) Vary your sessions: as mentioned a heavy ruck sack transforms a slow paced walk into a challenge- take one on a family tour. Or arrange to be social with someone for the first part of your session, maybe make that a jog followed by an extra hour of jog-walk on your own. Try throwing in new sports like kayaking, xc skiing, roller blading/skiing or mountain biking.  Martial arts often have two to three hour sessions where initially at least you may find your heart rate is kept above 120 for most of the session, even when meditating or under technique supervision.

Combining mulitple aerobic studio sessions is a good mid winter or get into shape means of covering two hours with variation, an element of keeping up with the gang, and some fun- often they run back to back and you may find they cater for several members like yourself or fitness fanantics, in having a series which lends itself to warm up and warm down, with an intense sweat sess' / dance/thai bo in the middle. Or choose a session you can take at medium intensity and warm up for it on the tread mills and down from it by rowing and cycling. Keep track of time and keep your heart rate above 120.

Last point from this : you only "need" to do the long sessions for the duration of the weight loss period. Thereafter you can tone it down. See other comment about this above. However 6kg means aiming to keep it up for six months. That is about 15llbs.

My philosophy is that :

A) you change your bad ways of extra little luxuries for good!  You learn to count extra, uneccesary spoiling-yourself calories which is really why we are fat, not because our core diet and exercise is lacking in something.

B) we only burn fat when we are emptied for blood glucose, and the glycogen stores in muscles and the liver are depleted. Studies have shown that the fat burning heart beat zone of 65-75% max heart beat will promote fat burning with exercising earlier than this, but really the combination of sustainable moderate intensity and duration past the glycogen bottom out point around an hour or so,  is what kick starts and maintains fat burning.

C) Once your body remembers how to burn fat and you get fitter and more active, your body will burn more fat in general even at the point when blood glucose is supplemented by liver glycogen. It has learned to open the burning pathways up and employ them quickly from all your long sessions.

D) An alternative to longer duration exercise to kick start fat metabolism is the low carbo diet. The famous Atkins diet actually creeps carbo intake back in until you reach a level where you stop loosing weight or start putting it back on. Low carbo should NOT be combined with my diet and exercise regime, but you can moderate starch and sugar intake greatly when you cannot train due to injury or weather or busy weeks.

Basically Atkins was able to clarify that a high fat diet does not lead to obesity. We already knew that a high sugar diet does and Atkins proposed that all carbos are to blame, from our carbo maxed 1980s diet cycle. In fact starchy carbos are only problematic in larger amounts or when taken with too much sugar. It is when the body is overloaded with sugar in a meal or even a single super sized fizzy drink , that the system compensates for potential hyperglycaemia by re-engineering sugars to fat for storage. Fitter people have higher capacity in the other store, glycogen, which is not related to significant weight gain at all.

E) In a sporty 30 something we begin to forget that our peak as amateur sportsperson was earlier and we now train less,  though, but at least think that this is maybe more intensely. Also we eat as we did when we trained and peaked, plus some we forget.  And we have higher income and more opportunities for socialising and beer drinking. By 40 we have kids and hop out for shorter sessions, often leaving competitive sport behind. We dont adjust our eating habits and exercise makes us more hungry and we snack, like we did 20 years earlier, but without the same calorie deficit we had back then. We wear our surplus round our middles and on our lower chin.

F) With this diet and exercise regime, we should also find that we have a peak weight loss after some months of strict adherence to it. This is partly because the body achieves a higher VO2 max, and we can achieve a higher max than with shorter, intense sessions five times a week  - long steady but sweaty sessions are excellent for we ageing "atheletes" because they are less wear and tear on the body than the "gynm bursts" most of us got used to.  In reality we only achieve 20- 40 minutes good effect on VO2 max by a typical gymn work out of mixed aerobic and weights. The super burst nano training is better for VO2 max and Insulin response as demonstrated bgy researchers at Nottingham and Glasgow universities. However the 30 second times six max outs will not really help you burn much fat. You can of course include them in a long two hour session anyway!

E) That the body learns to use fat again seems also to be important in long term weight loss and maintenance, but more important is to change lifestyle : when finished with the regime, you cannot turn back from the new eating and drinking lifestyle you now have learned if you want to hold your new figure you have worked so hard for.

F) Awareness to life's wee extras is the key to this diet for sporty fatties, as much as doing the longer training sessions. The key to staying slimmer post diet phase is to keep up this awareness of extras and you can calorie count in times when you lack time or health to train normally in future.

Basically here for the once very sporty, now a bit rotund over 30, I have counted the calories for you, and worked out that they lie in luxuries and that we no longer burn off as much as we used to,  and that therefore our mid rift spare tyre needs to be burnt off slowly but surely with longer duration exercise and cutting way down on luxuries to a point when they are just that, and we can even live a week or two without them.

F) IMPORTANT : This diet is for people who have been well trained in earlier life and have maintained some degree of training through their lives, just that they have put on weight overtime in fat deposits.  If you have never been fit or are now quite obese then you will find it hard to follow this regime, but not impossible. Consult a doctor if you are obese, totally unfit, or have health issues such as  a heart condition or anything unusual happens when you train.

G) once at your desired weight , then you can ease down the duration of sessions of exercise and change over to shorter, more intensive sessions which will help you maintain your VO2 max and general fitness and muscle mass. As long as you follow point E. Alternatively you can take up bigger nights out on the town say , but then walk home to burn beer sugars down, and then throw in a gentle two hour session the next day to help shift glycogen from your liver such that that reserve is what is being filled up by your normal diet opver the weekend, and you are not overloading into fat gain.

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