Health: Create a leaner you

Now is the time to get fit and lose weight - here's how!

Another summer of riding is in full swing and with it another chance to improve your riding, your physique and your achievements. It may be that you are just riding to work each day and want less weight to drag up each hill. Or maybe you are coming back to racing only to find a spare tyre on your waist which you’re obviously none too pleased about. Whether you are riding to go faster or looking for better endurance the time is right for getting leaner…

Commitment is key

Back when Lance Armstrong was winning Tours he reckoned on losing about 3-5kg in his build up to the tour. He was hardly fat in the off-season but by July he had turned himself into a lean, mean cycling machine. He started in earnest back in the spring but you can do things right now to get leaner and ride faster – especially uphill where it’s you, your bike and Isaac Newton: gravity!

So right now tell your partner, work mates and riding buddies what you plan to do over the coming months – that is, commit to get leaner. It could be lose a stone, dropa belt buckle notch or have the fat percentage scales drop three percent.

Whatever it is write your goals down. Now! And while you’re writing make another copy and give it to your nominated referee.

Make your goal something that you really have passion to achieve. Not just “I would like.…” but “I really have to have…”. Putting them on paper is like writing a contract of commitment between yourself and your conscience on what you really want to do by year’s end. So if you don’t come up to scratch you’ll have your adjudicator(s) to answer too and your own conscience to live with.

So step away from the computer for a few moments (possibly the hardest part of the challenge ahead) and write down your current details e.g. weight, height, goals, and then take a good photo of you in your underwear (take it in the mirror if no one else is brave enough). That way you have an exact starting point and no excuses. This allows you to state your goals and make the commitment a reality. Now there’s motivation to reach your potential!

Handy hints

Once you are committed you need to make small, consistent movements forward. How about these for some pointers to watch out for:

● Foods high in fat can subtly add to calorie intake. Look for those non essential foods which are high in saturated and or hydrogenated fat and reduce them gradually (biscuits, fatty cakes, spreads, processed meat products, low quality cooking oils).

● Watch for very high sugar content foods. Those with a fast glycaemic index can also add to fat gain even though their fat content is minimal. For example, over processed pasta, potatoes or bread. Also soft drinks, confectionery, sugar in warm drinks, cereals with high refined sugar content and products with fructose corn syrup as a high listed ingredient.

● Drink at least 2 litres of water a day (and 500ml for each hour of riding). This ensures optimal hydration thus preventing lethargy, aids in food transit through the body and makes the stomach feel fuller if you drink 300-400ml just before eating.

● Ignore stimulant type nutritional supplements which offer thermogenic fat loss. These ephedrine based products may help weight loss but they also over stress the adrenal system and leave users tired and depressed. A simple multi-vitamin is all you need.

● Keep it simple and follow the old advice: breakfast like a king (low fat and generous), dinner like a prince (some protein and fruit) and supper like a pauper (small snack, not a big meal).

● Reduce alcohol, high-sugar soft drinks and sugar in hot drinks to a minimum level. All contribute to easy storage of fat, especially if riding is suspended for several days.

Plan for problems before they arise

● Take a sheet of paper, draw a line down the centre and write in the left-hand column hurdle and the right-hand column solution.

● At the bottom of the page write down two or three key goals for the year.

● Now check your watch. Give yourself 10 minutes to write all the things that trip you up when trying to reach your goal.

● Next decide what’s to be done to overcome these problems. In some cases they may always exist, others may be totally eradicated by the right actions on your part.

● Use post-it notes, reminders on your computer or just about any visual “trigger” to enact this new action. It’s not easy but you are programming yourself to negotiate the hurdles that are stopping you – well worth the effort.

Note: If you have a training diary look back to see critical times when things go wrong.Is it related to time management, lack of motivation or lack of self discipline? You are the person to change these things and move towards a leaner you.

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