Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sibling Rivalry

Yesterday, I was talking to my brother by e-mail. We both started lifting about the same time, and our progress has been very different. At first, he had me killed in the bench press and the squat, and I had him in the deadlift. Then, I finally caught him in the squat, but he made progress in the deadlift while I stagnated there. He referred to my new deadlift PR of 365 pounds as "a ton, well, not literally".

He told me that with the nicer weather, he's been getting out to walk for a few miles most evenings. He ran cross country years ago and just doesn't enjoy running any more. His real love is tennis, but a chronic injury has him at a point where he needs risky surgery to even have a chance of playing tennis regularly again. So, he lifts, walks, and does some other training in the gym. He's been playing around with Intermittent Fasting (IF).

I ski, run sometimes, lift, do CrossFit, cycle some, etc.

Both of us try to eat a Paleo/Primal diet, but we both love things that don't mix well with those diets. It's simply a never ending struggle.

When I see pictures of myself at my lowest adult weight, 165 pounds in the summer of 1987, I can't believe how skinny I was. And yet, I remember thinking even then that I was fat.

Yesterday, I was complaining to my brother that my weight has been steady for a year, but basically near my lifetime high weight. He had dropped from over 250 pounds to 205, eating Primal/Paleo, but over the winter, gained ten pounds back.

We're both unhappy with where we are. My brother told me yesterday in an e-mail "You're a competitive person. How about a little contest to lose some weight?" I thought it sounded like a great idea. And then, he suggested we each target 40 pounds (I am 40 pounds from where I'd like to be and he is as well). That's a lot of weight - not a short-term contest.

Can we stay focused? Will one of us bail? Both of us? How long will it take? The first ten pounds are easy. The second ten, not too bad. It always goes like that. And then, a plateau, frustration, and a vat of ice cream or a keg of beer.

My ultrarunning buddy Joe was giving me grief last week over my "weight obsession". For people who've never been overweight, I honestly think they have no idea what it is like to be constantly fighting that battle. It's a burden that never goes away, and it tortures you. "This time, I'm going to lose the weight." "I'm going to keep it off." "I'm going to get fit." "I'm going to look OK in a swimming suit/naked/whatever." But, it never works out. Yeah, there are brief victories. My sub-3 hour marathon at 168 pounds in 1995 was pretty sweet after six months of obsessing for one race. In the next year, I gained forty pounds and gave up all that fitness.

My Wasatch finish in 2003 and Hardrock in 2004 were pretty sweet, but the next summer, I got complacent and went to Western States weighing way too much. I missed the time cut-off with 6.7 miles to the go to the finish line.

Today, I don't even care about race times that much. I am just sick and tired of never being satisfied with my body composition. Yet, at the same time, I'm skeptical that I can win. I wish that wasn't true, but I'm being honest. I've been fighting this battle for almost 40 years. I'm tired of the fight. I understand why people would kill for a pill that would solve this never-ending problem.

But, I'm not conceding anything to my little brother. He is a great guy, and maybe we can somehow cajole each other to some significant improvements.

It can't hurt to focus my efforts one more time. Well, it can hurt if I fail, but for today, I'm not going to worry about that.

My workout last night was just over 40 minutes of running, with ten repeats of 60 seconds each. Tonight will be CrossFit.

And, by the way, if anyone who reads this feels like telling me to simply move more and eat less, or that it's simply calories in and calories out, I'll delete your comment. The only people who make those comments, in my experience, are people who have never been overweight and don't know the realities of trying to lose weight and sustain the loss.


Harriet said...

Damon, I have to treat it the way that an alcoholic treats alcoholism.

Yes, that means that I've given up certain foods for good.

Of course, I weigh in the 195-198 pound range now and I'd like to be at 185 or less (when I race my best); basically I have to review my food intake every 3-4 years because a 51 year old needs less food than a 45 year old, who needs less food than a 40 year old...etc.

Steve said...

Just some clarification from the little brother. My peak weight was in the 230's. I dropped from 230 to 185 about six years ago before I ever heard of paleo/primal, just by exercising more and eating less (particularly nothing after 8pm).
I started trying primal eating about 18 months ago when I weighed 217. I lost about 10 lbs., most of it when I gave up alcohol for a month. I gained the 10 lbs back this past winter and am back around 215. I wouldn't say primal eating is revolutionary for me, but I do find it easier to control my weight. I'm also not very disciplined with the primal diet. I have lots of non-primal weaknesses (mashed potatoes and gravy, cheeseburger subs, ice cream, alcohol...).

malvs2walk said...

I have been in that same boat all my life. lose, gain. starve, lose, gain.

I didn't learn that is about WHAT you put in your mouth first until recently.

I am a true Paleo convert since January 18, I have lost 27 pounds, I feel so much better (of course, the first 3 weeks were very tough), I have made huge performance gains... some in strentgh, but mostly in endurance.

Yes, refined carbs and sugar are like crack, so you have to go ALL IN to break the habit. You can do it!