I’ve been at the same weight and fitness level for the past few years. I had definitely hit a plateau and needed a new challenge in order to lose weight and up my fitness game. Enter – the Ironman (I mean, you didn’t think I would just run a 10k did you?). So, I signed up for the Ironman two months ago (race is in July 2017) and started training. Fast forward two months, and I’ve lost 19 pounds and two pant sizes and have never eaten this clean or trained this hard before.
One of the best ways to lose weight is to train for an event. It’s not just about the physical training, it’s about signing up for an event (whether that’s a 5k, a Spartan Race, an Ironman, a bodybuilding competition, a yoga retreat, hiking Kilimanjaro, etc.), committing serious money to register for the event and paying for a coach or personal trainer, and committing to the suffering (saying no to junk food, timing your food, training longer hours, saying no to social engagements). If you are serious about losing weight (and I know many of you will be as we enter the new year), then you need to find a reason to push through the mental, physical, and emotional pain.
Eat less. Fuel your body with whole foods. Move more. Simple, right? If it were in fact that simple, we wouldn’t have an obesity problem in our country. I love it when people tell me that they eat healthy, but clearly aren’t or are just consuming too much. Many of us consume way too many empty calories and/or eat more than we think. Track your meals in a food journal or count your calories in an app and you’ll have an objective view of what you are really eating. That latte from Starbucks has 200 calories and then you add on a bagel and cream cheese and you’re at almost 700 calories in minutes, with hardly any good nutrients. Hours later you’re already hungry because you didn’t fuel your body properly. Instead, how would you feel if you ate 2 whole eggs and 4 egg whites with a banana? And two to three hours later, you had some Greek yogurt with 1/3 cup of walnuts and some blueberries. Sure, it’s healthier for you, but you will also just feel better!
What I’m telling you is probably not new information, but there has to be meaning behind why you want to lose weight and live a healthy life. The meaning will be different for everyone (live longer, be able to play with your grand kids, look hot in a bathing suit, run a marathon). Whatever it is that is motivating you to lose weight – keep that in the forefront of your mind as you are committing to your new goal and experiencing the pain. Because it’s simple, but it’s not easy.
Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or certified personal trainer. This is just what has worked for me based on the information I’ve been given by my coaches. What works for me, may not work for you.
Here’s what a typical Ironman training week looks like for me (about 15 hours of workouts):
Monday – Recovery day, easy swim for 1500-200o yards, some strength training on core and back, stretching and using a foam roller
Tuesday – 1 hour 40 minute bike ride a Z1 pace (heart rate of 134-144) followed by 25 minute transition or block run at a Z1 pace (heart rate of 140-150)
Wednesday – 1 hour 30 minute to 2 hour bike ride with interval training – 3 x 10 minutes segments at a very low cadence (i.e. pedals per minute) and descend – for example 75, 70, 65 with 5 minutes recovery ride in between. The cadence bike ride is in Z2 (heart rate of 144-154), followed by a 25 minute transition run and a ton of stretching and rolling
Thursday – Masters Swim Class for 1 hour 15 minutes, usually 3000 yards worth of drills, conditioning, etc.
Friday – 3 hour 25 minute bike ride at Z1 pace, with a 30 minute block of low cadence at the top of Z1, but not over it. This is followed by a 30 minute transition run, stretching and rolling. These days can hurt!
Saturday – Drill set swimming, 1500-2000 yards and then a 1 hour bike ride at Z1 pace with some intervals
Sunday – 1 hour 40 minute bike ride at ZR (recover ride – heart rate is below 129) with a 4 minute sprint in the middle at peak heart rate, followed by a 1 hour 35 minute run (usually about a 1/2 marathon for me at top of Z1 heart rate)
Before my training started we built a histogram for all my training weeks up until the race – there is a base phase, growth phase and then I will cut back on training a couple of weeks before the event. The above is a typical week; some weeks will be recovery weeks based on my stress load and some weeks will increase to 25 hours of training. The point is – there is a plan. In order to execute the plan at the highest level the maintenance of your body is crucial. You need recovery days, you need a tremendous amount of healthy, dense nutrients for your body, you need to stretch 2-3 times a day, and use a foam roller several times a day for 10-30 minutes. The key is to take care of your body to allow for growth.
In a typical 15 hour workout week, I average 3700-3800 calories per day. On longer or more intense training days, I consume more and will hit well above 5000 calories, and then go back down to 2700-2800 depending on the training plan.
In a typical day I eat:
– Breakfast – 4 egg whites, 2 whole eggs, piece of fruit
– Mid Morning Snack– 6 oz of Greek yogurt with a scoop of whey protein, 1/4 cup walnuts, and some berries
– Lunch – 6-8 oz of lean protein (mostly chicken), veggies
– Mid Afternoon Snack – Veggies and hummus and/or piece of fruit
– Dinner – 6-8 oz of lean protein, veggies, and a salad
– After Dinner Snack – Scoop of protein powder or light meal depending on training
– Additional Snacks: Protein bars, gels, etc.
Now, this may seem strict (where’s the wine!?), but it’s actually very easy to get into the habit of eating this way. You’re already in some sort of eating routine (yours may just be coffee, bagel, coffee, pizza, gummy bears). Change it up! Meal prep on the weekends and know exactly what you are going to fuel your body with every day throughout the day. One of the biggest mistakes people make is actually not eating enough – which effects your mood, energy, and can lead to overeating later in the day. Fuel up and feel better.
Want to lose 19 pounds in 2 months? Train. Get a plan in place for your workouts and your nutrition and stick to it. To be really effective, hire a coach and sign up for an event. If you know you have to show up and perform, what decisions would you be making differently? It will not be easy. You are going to experience pain, you are going to have to make sacrifices, and it’s going to be uncomfortable. Get over it. You are capable of more than you think. The only way to grow is to experience some pain and break though to the other side of YOU.
New year. New you. Get up, get going, get yours!