I have been spending a lot of time over the last few months having a good think about how I can turn my running around and maximize my performance. Last year as you may have already read was a bit of a shocker for me. Funny thing is you can never really see it clearly at the time, hind sight being 20/20 and all that....its so easy now to look back and pick up on the things I got wrong.
I decided to do what I always do when I get a little stuck, I hit the books. The particular book in question was Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald. I`m really enjoying it. I bought myself some body fat scales and I am already being more mindful about my food choices but most of all, my portion size.
If you are anything like me then you like a good feed. Serving suggestions are always doubled and the plate, no matter how big must be finished. I hate wasted food. Unfortunately if you have any intentions of doing something about your body fat percentage then this is going to slow you down a bit. The main thing I am working on at the moment is to try and teach myself to recognize when I am actually full, instead of the kind of full that feels like an alien is about to burst from my stomach. So far I feel like I`m doing pretty well and the numbers are falling. I wont tell you too much about the actual book only that you should read it.
I started at 11 stone 5 pounds and around 22% body fat on 1st January and now at 26th February I am.....wait for it.....10 stone 5 pounds and 17.8% body fat!! This wasn't with some mad whatever free, kale only diet with added wheat grass, this was with normal food, just less of it in one go. I have been simply trying to learn when I am actually hungry and stopping when I`m full. This means that if I am genuinely hungry in 2 hours, I eat. In fact I`ve been eating about 6 times a day. I also have tried to stick to regular exercise of even as little as 20-30 minutes, 5-6 days a week. Much to even my own surprise it has made a massive difference. I hope to drop a little more body fat by April for my 6 hour challenge. This should happen naturally as I increase my running again and tweak my food a little more. So far, so good!
I am learning very quickly that the numbers are also not the be all and end all. Far too many people get obsessive over the numbers and it can have a really negative impact. The main thing I have found when talking about weight is how many people are looking for a number and not even really thinking about their overall body composition. Think of it this way, if you stood on the scale and the number showed your ideal weight but your body shape was the same would you be happy? If the answer is yes, congratulations! Now go ahead and throw your scales in the bin they are pointless. If however you think you could do with trimming up a bit then the number on the scales still means nothing if you have nothing to base it on.You see the number on the scale is out of context if you just look at it every now and then and don`t pay attention to how your body reacts to a change of lifestyle. The thing you also have to take into account is that your body weight is more complicated than just one number. You have to consider your body fat percentage, your body water, muscle content, overall weight and height. One of the most important parts I am discovering is the body fat percentage. The overall weight will fluctuate even though your body fat is actually still dropping. It is quite possible that once your weight gets to a certain level and settles down that the body fat will slowly drop while you actually get a little heavier due to smaller amounts of extra muscle. Once again showing that the number given for your overall weight alone is out of context, you could have 15% body fat but not be at your "ideal weight". The short version would be, take the numbers with a pinch of salt and treat them as a guideline.
The point I guess I`m trying to make is that it is OK to get carried away with the numbers as long as you approach them with a goal in mind. The goal hopefully being that of improving performance, NOT hunting numbers. Hunting numbers is easy just adjust the scales, there you go, you hit your number! Improving performance takes a lot more attention. I have been weighing myself a lot, not out of obsession for the numbers but out of curiosity. I have seen my weight fluctuate throughout the day by as much as a couple of pounds, proving to myself that it should not be taken too seriously. The most important thing for me is how I feel and how I run. As my body fat has been dropping my running seems to be improving, regardless of my weight that day. Maybe that`s because I haven't found my base level yet and maybe everything will level out?
I have no idea at the moment but I`m very curious to find out!
Thanks for reading folks, hope you have enjoyed it!