Cycling/diet update, one month later

Worst day ride thru pdx As a bit of public shaming, I’m going to do a monthly update on my progress of riding my bikes more and losing some weight. February is all good news because I’ve put in a lot of miles and I’ve lost 5 pounds.

I rode about 280 miles in just under 20 hours of riding for the month (thanks to it being the cold winter, I also won my first monthly challenge over at the We Endure MetaFilter group). I didn’t watch what I ate too much, but I did pay attention to how much and when I ate. I am no longer eating anything after 6-7pm or so (I used to occasionally have a bowl of cereal, cheese and crackers, or dessert late at night) and I’m no longer eating heaping helpings of seconds and thirds at dinner until my stomach hurts (I used to do this several times a week).

So far, it feels like a pretty easy transition as it is minimal dieting but the biggest surprise is that the tons of riding I’m doing (on pace to do over 3,000 miles of riding this year if I keep it up) boils down to just five hours of riding a week. Last summer, I probably rode my bike an average of once or twice a week for an hour or so each time, and I didn’t ride much more because it always seemed too difficult to schedule into my day. In the last few months I realized I made excuses or put off riding until it was too late in the day to go out, so instead I came up with a new system: schedule your exercise.

My day starts around 8-9am and I process through my email to figure out what my day is looking like. I’ll check my calendar as well to see what’s on tap for that day and after 30 minutes or so of work I can figure out if I should take a bike ride before lunch or a couple hours after lunch. Anything that comes up after I make the plans is fit around that (“I can’t call you back as I’ll be out before lunch, I’ll call you later in the afternoon“). I try to ride every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and if I can squeak out a long ride on a weekend I’ll do that as well.

That’s my biggest surprise in taking on this new lifestyle endeavor — doing regular exercise is not nearly as invasive to my schedule as I previously thought. It’s just setting aside an hour or two 3 or 4 days a week and I’m seeing weight loss and increased endurance immediately. I also realized five hours a week isn’t that much to give as even though I consider myself a casual gamer, my playstation still probably sees more than 5 hours a week of use.

So far, so good, and I think I’ll be able to keep this up for a very long time.

9 Comments

  • Awesome, Matt.
    Your example has led me to get out on my bike, too. I’ve only put in 50 miles, but it’s a start. Maybe I’ll beat you at We Endure in March…

  • Hey that’s great news! I find that scheduling my exercise and making it a real part of my day (not something extra) went a long way to me actually getting it all done. That and having a bunch if nerdy spreadsheets to type all sorts of data into and it’s actually been a pretty fun transition. People have a hard time believing that I’ve actually LOST weight since I started working at MetaFilter.

  • Yay! Congrats on such progress. I am a huge believer in scheduling exercise. I go first thing in the morning and just make my day start after that. And it’s amazing how you find you’re just as productive and it doesn’t eat away at your day. Keep up the good work!

  • I completely agree with you — I had similar results with a regular exercise schedule years ago. But since my kids were born, I don’t seem to have the time (especially coupled with my long daily commute). How do you make the time to spend with your family AND work AND exercise…AND still have 5+ hours to play video games after all that?

  • KJC, I couldn’t really exercise much for the first two years after I had children, but I’m finding I can do it now if I stake out an hour here and there during my workday, which is apart from all the parenting stuff I have to do in the mornings and evenings. I have a non-traditional job, so taking an hour off here and there isn’t a problem, but I totally hear you that it’s tough to fit exercise time in.
    And for video games, it’s usually an hour here and there late at night after the kids are asleep, instead of watching TV or something.

  • Ah, that makes sense. I have 2 kids (almost 2 and almost 5) + a too-long commute from the suburbs to the city. Already I need to get up at 5AM to get home before they go to bed, and after that I rarely want to go out for nighttime exercise (especially in winter…I miss my old BMX days when I didn’t think 35 degrees was too cold to go outside).

  • Dave Moulton (http://davesbikeblog.blogspot.com/2008/03/london-commuter.html) had an interesting post this morning kind of wondering about how one makes that step from casual rider/commuter to enthusiast. Seems you are clearly on your way – good for you.

  • The approach you described to limiting the amount of food you are eating is pretty similar to the No S Diet. Thought you might want to check it out: http://www.nosdiet.com/

  • Ive used cycling to lose weight since I was a kid. It took me until age 40 to figure out how it works for me best.
    I do a moderate bonk training coupled with a loose south beach diet on a cycling every other day for 7-11 miles.Last year, doing this, I lost 45 lbs in 6 months.
    Bonk training= drink caffeine or take a tablet 30 mins before ride, ride on an empty stomach within an hour of waking at 60=70% of your V.O. max for 30 mins to a maximum of 90 minutes. If you don’t use a heart meter (like me), the guide is, you should be able to hold a conversation while cycling without getting too winded. If I find I am breathing too heavily, I step it down.
    This makes your metabolism go in to overdrive and you burn calories all day. Just don’t overdo it, it could kill you too.

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