Lisa Simpson is always right

This is frustrating - I wonder why I'm not losing any weight, despite averaging 75-90 minutes a day at the gym? Over the last six weeks I've done low-intensity base-building, high-intensity intervals, weight training with light weighs and high reps, 2 hour treadmill runs, super-spinny spinning classes, swimming, rowing machines, x-country skiing, pushups, crunches - and my weight? Exactly what it was in early December. It's not like this is a sudden lifestyle change, either - I've been training seriously for triathlons since the winter of 2001. My weight when I started that? About 190.

"Are you eating crap, Jason?" That's a good question, and the answer is no - usually a yogurt with granola for breakfast, lean cuisine frozen meal or turkey sandwitch for lunch, handful of nuts for an afternoon snack, some sort of pasta, salad, or lean meat for dinner, and lots of water throughout the day.

To paraphrase Lisa Simpson, I know this obsession with being thin is unhealthy, but...that's what a fat kid would say! At 6'2" and 185, I don't think I'm overweight - but I'm at the high end of the "normal" BMI range (which I realize is a poor indicator of proper body weight) - an extra 10 lbs would put me in the overweight category.

I'd describe myself as a thin human, but an overweight triathlete. To race well at Ironman-Wisconsin in September, I'd like to drag 20 fewer pounds over the course - I don't know how to do it though. I'm going to a class at Spice's hippie gym on Thursday, based on her good recommendation and testimonials like this one:
Before beginning the 60 Day Challenge I considered myself to be a healthy, fit 44 year old man. I cross country ski, play baseball, hockey, bike often and workout on a daily basis. I felt I had reached my plateau and thought the challenge would help me lose the 10 lbs I hadn’t been able to drop and prepare me for the upcoming cross country ski season. I thought the hardest part of the challenge would be changing my diet. I have always eaten what I wanted when I wanted. I was worried about eliminating starchy carbs as I thought my energy level would drop. However to my surprise, I was able to maintain my high level of energy. I also found that my cravings for sweets and starches diminished. The workouts at the Monkey Bar Gymnasium are fun, diverse and challenging as opposed to the monotony of a regular gym. The personal attention was important and a real plus. I had never experienced this before. When I was only 3 weeks into the challenge my friends were noticing the changes in my body. I also noticed that I was improving my strength and stamina. I now have leaner, longer muscles, quicker reflexes and where I had hoped to lose 5 to 10 pounds, I was delighted to have lost a total of 23 lbs of fat!

Edited to add: Based on J.Po's comment, I did a little more research into BMI for athletes. As I had suspected and she wrote, BMI is virtually useless for anyone with a modicum of fitness, since far more of your body weight is composed of lean muscle mass (and working out doesn't increase your height accordingly). Here's an interesting page with a number of ideal body weight calculators, the problems with each, and how you can use them to triangulate an appropriate weight target.

1 comment:

J.Po said...

Given that things like the body-mass index are based on a sampling of the general population in the US (i.e. - more fat, less muscle), my guess is that you don't need to think about BMI at all. As soon as they come up with standards for intense athletes, then you can start placing yourself on the chart.

You know the growth charts for children are still based on some tiny study of a tiny community in southern Ohio done somewhere around 1960, or earlier (my details may be off). The resulting charts are bunch of bull-hooey, as it turns out. But they've been trusted for years and the knowledge of their origin has been lost to history. More substantial sampling is being done now, including oversampling of ethnic minorities and preterm birth children.