Here is a question that I commonly see at MTB forums:
“I am trying to drop 45 Lbs to get down to 200 Lbs. I just joined planet fitness today and I want to lose weight but would also like to strengthen my legs and upper body for those challenging obstacles. Any ideas on how I can achieve my new year’s resolution?”
Besides improving your riding skills; improving your personal fitness is probably the second best thing that you can do to take your MTB riding to the next level, and make the whole riding experience just that much more enjoyable. I am by no means a fitness expert, and I’m definitely not a nutritionist. This write-up is not a really fast way of losing weight, nor a way to quickly train for a race. This is more of a long term lifestyle change that I have done to improve my overall health.
First of all, I’m 50 years old and at 210 Lbs. I am definitely not the perfectly buff superhero looking specimen of a man. When I workout, I am more focused on getting healthier. For me, losing weight is not 100% of the answer. By just looking at the scale, I have not gained or lost hardly anything over the past few years. In my estimation, I think that I have lost more than 40 Lbs of fat and gained more than 35 Lbs of muscle. However, I feel 500 times better, healthier, and stronger …and my riding endurance is SO MUCH better.
A few years ago, I went to a local used exercise equipment reseller. I traded in one of my commuter bikes for a used Bowflex XLT that they had there. It is capable of doing all the same exercises as the newest model Bowflex Total home gyms. New ones go for around +$2,000 and up. But because the XLT model is no longer in production, it was very inexpensive and it only cost me less than $200. This was my best spent money ever. It sure saves me a ton on time, money, and the inconvenience of going to the local membership gym.
I do quick 20 minute resistance workouts almost every other day on it. I supplement this weight training by adding in some cardio rides on my mountain bikes. When I am short on time, I will sometimes do top speed sprint rides up and down the neighborhood streets near my house (less than 10 minutes to do this). Other times I will substitute that with a brisk 2 to 3 mile walk and a couple of 1 minute runs mixed in (just like circuit training on a treadmill). I get my heart rate way up and I can feel the burn. It all counts and adds to my fitness goals.
I then took a look at my nutritional intake. I tried tracking my calories at “loseit.com” just for a few months to see if I could make some improvements.
|Loseit.com screen capture. I only used the free version for 3 months, and it was a great tool.|
Using this tool, the most important things that I discovered were:
- My overall food portions were a tiny bit too large sometimes.
- My meat portions were also a bit too large sometimes.
- Too many of my calories were coming from drinking fruit juices.
- I almost always went over on my calorie count with carb items like bread, potatoes, or rice.
- I did not eat enough vegetables.
I fixed all of these problems by mostly drinking water instead of juice, cutting back on portion sizes, and adding more veggies. This was a fantastic tool for me to adjust my eating habits.
|The infamous juice aisle! This stuff looks like it is very healthy, but nutritionists often call them “liquid candy” for a reason.|
I know that I am no longer 20 years old, so I just can’t eat everything without a care in the world anymore and expect to stay healthy. For my diet because my cholesterol is a bit high, I then also cut way down on:
- Fried foods
- Greasy foods (like ribs & burgers)
- Foods with lots of butter or lard (cookies, croissants, muffins)
- Sour cream
- Foods with a ton of cheese or cream sauces
- Ice cream (mostly heavy cream)
- Mayonnaise (mostly oil)
I saw some excellent results from these adjustments, and it really motivated me to keep going. I have not achieved 100% of my fitness goals yet, but I am very well on my way.
Your turn… What do you do to get fit and healthy?