I usually make this comment in jest, however, I have gone through a period of self-reflection recently and realised that it is completely true and not a joke.
Let me show you what I mean.
For the last two and a bit years I have gotten into triathlon, more specifically Ironman. Here are some photos from ironman Taupo 2015 (March).
I normally sit at around 66kg – although this depends on the size of my “chocolate belly”. This term will become more familiar to you soon.
I had done a lot of hard work in the build up to IM to get into peak race shape i.e. not scoffing king size blocks of chocolate on a daily basis (not kidding!). My goal was to be “lean, light and fast”. There is no hiding from your weaknesses on IM race day and I did not want to be reduced to a walk because I couldn’t control my eating habits.
I think I did pretty well – this was my second IM and I took over 60 minutes off of my time finishing in 10hrs27mins and 5th in my age group (30-34).
But while I am very goal driven, I suffer from a lack of motivation when I am not competing.
Not my finest moment!
This photo was taken in July this year. It tells quite a different picture and the chocolate belly is well and truly back! I was pushing 72kg in this photo and when I saw it I knew that I had to change my ways as it is not healthy to lose and put on weight like this every time I need to prepare for a race. It also signalled to me that my eating habits were not right and my mentality towards food needed changing from using food as a reward.
I have tried unsuccessfully in the past to break my association with food as a reward and my tendency to eat everything on my plate/I can see. I have grown up with the three big meals a day philosophy and my parents drilled into me the value of money and not to waste anything.
The only restaurants we went to as a family were “all you can eat” buffets. And we definitely knew how to get our money’s worth! I’m sure the restauranteurs would cringe when they saw my family approach!
There are not many buffet restaurants left now…but there is fill your own plate Chinese. I have also been taught only to pay for a small plate and stack it to get maximal value!
These habits would be hard to break! But I was up for the challenge! However, this time I needed help from an independent person. I enlisted the help of Steve Rickard at Results Room (http://resultsroom.co.nz/). Steve has a very impressive resume and more importantly a sweet tooth like me so I knew he would understand.
We broke down my plate and what it was made up of and how much was protein, vegetable, and carb. As I was not training a lot over July and August we experimented with the carb content and drastically reduced it. I was not meant to eat any processed carb or starchy vegetable. That took some getting used to and I needed to learn to fill my plate up with lots of green, leafy vegetables!
I immediately started to lose weight! However, there were still the mind games and cravings to beat. There was also an adjustment phase where my body was saying “feed me bread!” I just ate more veges and thought about the Wellington Road Champ 10km run on 22 August 2015 and how I wanted to be lean, light and fast for that. I had a goal of 65kg to reach by that race.
I’m not going to lie, it is tough for me to watch what I eat. I am not one of those people who can get away with eating treats all the time and chocolate is like a drug for me! But I know this now and still allowed myself the odd portion controlled treat over this time. The difference was that I constantly reminded myself of what was more important – my race performance and training.
There were also times when I plateaued and it seemed like I could not shift the weight anymore. Steve kept me motivated and reminded me that the body takes time to settle and not to revert back to my old ways when I hit an obstacle. I kept up the leafy greens and played around with the ratios of food groups on my plate and sure enough the weight came off.
By 22 August (Road Champ Race Day) I was actually sitting under 64kg! This gave me a great sense of accomplishment.
Guns have come out to play! The sun must have been out somewhere.
The journey isn’t over yet though! I have just started training for Ironman 2016 in Taupo and I have big plans for that race. My nutrition needs to be top notch and I’m going to take what I have learnt and apply it. What this experiment has taught me is that I don’t need the reliance on sugar that I thought I did and that there are real food training alternatives( I’ll share these receives with you on my Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sierra-Ryland/904228102991091).
So here is to feeling in control, lean, light and fast!
Achievable goals for achievable results