Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Fat Don't Fly

Just last week, really, my training and nutritional strategies collided in such a way that I began rapidly losing weight. I think probably I've not openly given enough emphasis to the importance of this factor in Ironman, particularly on a hilly course like Wisconsin's. Last year my race weight had me down to about 188, and this year I'd like to be below 180. Hell, around 170-175 would be great. But to balance the right nutrition intake to fuel all my distances and still lose weight takes some engineering. But it's critical that I do. The weight savings I'd gain would be worth more than the latest $3000 gizmo on my bike, and I'd be hauling that much less up hills and around Wisconsin for 140.6 miles. But that said, I'm not "on a diet". I'm incredibly thoughtful about what I eat, and when, and for what purpose. Weight loss in general naturally goes along with this kind of training, so I'm just trying to optimize the weight loss environment. But really, I don't think I eat any differently, or less, than a person just should in a healthy nutritional diet.

So as I said, the pounds started rapidly coming off last week, and then the weekend came. I had family and social commitments Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday that all required my eating at restaurants. There is simply no way to eat healthy at restaurants. Period. So on days when I know I'm going to, I try to go calorie deficit if possible, but that only goes so far. Even ordering light, or eating half, or whatever, it's still processed, and enriched, and loaded and cheesy or frozen or microwaved or whatever. But what's more interesting to me is how social eating is - I'm really aware of this right now. People don't like to eat if other people around them aren't eating, or aren't eating "enough". It makes them uncomfortable. Now, life is too short to count pounds, and I'm not paranoid or distraught or anything. And I do not regret the time spent around a meal with each of last week's dinners - they were with close friends and family, and the time and experiences were all important and valuable; they weren't random trips to Burger King or something. But this calls into greater focus the balance between sacrifice of my IM life, and my "real" life. If I turn down a dinner request, I risk alienating or offending people who are important to me, or at the least forgoing time spent with them. However, in having dinner, I nutritionally undo the 6 miles I ran this morning, or whatever, and in the long run (no pun intended) that will have potentially significant impact on my general IM training and process. More importantly, I sacrifice my discipline, and that's just not something I like to do.

There are smaller incidents, though, that represent the larger issues not just from my perspective, but I think from the perspective of how some people are seeing my approach to IM. I can't tell you how many times I've been invited or presented with some kind of sweet or something contrary to my nutritional agenda where, if I turn it down, or eat only one instead of 18, or whatever, I get these weird eye rolling looks. Not good natured ribbing or light sarcasm, but something genuinely irritated. What is that about? Why does it matter to you what I eat? Are you offended? Think I'm turning down your invitation to, what, get attention or something? It's absurd, and creates for situational conflict where there is no purpose. It frustrates me.

I need to create the same kind of discipline around my eating habits that I do with my training schedule. Specifically in eating at restaurants with family and friends. This means I may need to begin actively turning down dinner requests, or seeking other alternatives to spend that time with people. I need to realize that not everybody will understand that, and not take responsibility to accommodate or pacify that. Most of the people important to me get it. Those that don't, well, that's okay. There is a limit to what the people around me can and do understand with what I am trying to do, and how I am trying to do it. For some reason, once that limit is reached, it is often expressed by some kind of frustration from them. This is an amusing mystery, and I cannot understand it...why what I order for dinner or if I eat candy or if I drink soda is of any concern to anybody. I need to no longer feel self conscious about that. Think or feel however you want about my ice water. It cannot be important to me right now.

None of which is to imply that I'm somehow surrounded by people who don't get it. In fact, I couldn't be more impressed or blessed by the commitment of my team to participate, support, and enthusiastically acknowledge what I'm dong - as evidenced by your very presence here, right now. But there is occasional dissent, often from more peripheral people, that still, for some reason, strikes a nerve with me. I need to be stronger than that. All part of this process. In twenty years, I promise you, I will not remember the cheesecake I turned down.


Michael Anderson said...

It's weird that people should try to pressure you into social eating, and yet take nothing away from you in learning to choose to eat in a more healthy way. Apparently there's no compromise: indulge or be belittled (literally).

Some people should wear T-shirts that say "Eats well with others."

And yours can say, "Converses for free - no food necessary."

I'm sure there's lots of fun T-shirt slogans which could be adapted.

This is another one of those strange things one wouldn't expect would have to be a part of your training. But I guess it also shows how extensively such training permeates the areas of life.


P.S. I left 700 miniture Milky Ways in your freezer, would you keep an eye on them for me?

RunIrisRun said...

Try working in a school that celebrates everything with cake, which is absolutely the LAST thing I would take with me to a deserted island. You don't know how many pieces I've eaten just to avoid the unkind looks/remarks. People automatically think I'm avoiding the cake to "stay skinny," when I really just hate the taste, texture, everything about it. I think it's other people's own guilty feelings toward food and wishing they could just say no.

For real? $3000 on a bike gizmo?

abby said...

Do you get the eye rolling with turning down extra mayo and sour cream too?

xt4 said...

I know, Iris. And isn't it funny anyway that people give you looks in the first place? Like it matters to them that you're not eating cake. For whatever reason. If they're eating cake and you're not, then you're weird. I don't get it. People are dumb.

Sure, you can go buy racing wheels that cost 3 or 4 times as much as your bike in the first place. Some people's complete bikes are easily as expensive as a small car. All these expensive gizmos are designed to make you more aero, or be lighter by a few grams, or whatever to save economy and energy in the long run (ride). If you're Lance, where 20 grams might save you 30 seconds on a 40k time trial, and that's the difference between 1st and 4th place in the TDF, then I suppose it's worth it. If you're me, it's better to just keep working on the engine.

Hey, I heard you won a trail race or something???

Mmmmm. Mayonaissey.

Todd said...

Sorry, I'm a bit behind and catching up on your posts. Couldn't have said it better myself..."people are dumb." Nuff said. I just do not get it either how people get mad at you for not eating that cookie or having "just one" beer or something. Whatever, how in the hell does it affect and matter to you? That used to drive me absolutely nuts back in the day when I was known as "Anal Todd." It got to the point where I would literally have to go off on someone and tell them, "buzz off, what does it matter if I'm drinking water versus your beer?" And seriously get into an argument over it. Iris is totally right. I think people who give you crap and do that are just jealous and envious that they have zero self control to turn down the treat or whatever it may be. If we ever get together again in the flesh, I promise I won't offer you any food, beverage or harassment for turning down said items....keep on keepin on my friend!

xt4 said...

Hey Iris - just posted a shout out to you at the Blog - good luck this weekend!!!!!