As the season approaches, it is time to get down to race weight.
Let me begin by getting one thing straight, I hate the word "dieting." If there is one word that epitomizes all that is wrong with weight loss it is that vile word. The word "dieting" holds many negative connotations for us Americans and for me has always evoked images of bland food and weird fads. I feel that just uttering that word can hinder a person in reaching their weight goals. For these reasons, I much prefer the term, cutting weight.
If you following me on social media (@nicksymmonds) then you know I am quite fond of the little pleasures in life, good food, good beer, etc. I am very much an advocate of athletes, particularly those that are endurance based, not being overly concerned with what they eat or drink. I truly believe, "if the furnace is hot enough it will burn anything."
That being said, as a person with a mesomorphic body type (read: Coach, I'm not heavy I'm just big boned!) there are times during the year when cutting weight is mandatory for me to do my job correctly. One of those times is when I am preparing for an outdoor season of racing on the track.
Two weeks back I flew to Albuquerque with my team, the Brooks Beasts, for a training stint at altitude. This period was to serve as our final preparations before our season begins in May. Having just come back from a month off due to injury, I arrived seven pounds over my target race weight of 162 pounds. Utilizing several weight cutting techniques that I have learned over the past decade as a professional runner, I was able to shed those extra pounds in just ten days.
Here is how I cut weight. It should be noted that these techniques are not appropriate for everyone.
1.) Weigh yourself, each day, the minute you wake up. Stand on a digital scale totally naked BEFORE you go to the bathroom. Write down the number. This establishes a very consistent measurement by minimizing the natural weight fluctuations you will go through during the day due to what you are wearing, what you have eaten, how hydrated you are, etc. I only allow myself to stand on the scale once each day and I think this is helpful mentally.
2.) Stay accountable. I know that Coach Danny Mackey is going to ask me about my weight when I return to Seattle and he knows that 162 is my target race weight. Find someone to keep you accountable be it a coach, a friend, a teammate, etc. Check in with them every few weeks.
3.) Eat food! Lots of it in fact. Starving yourself will turn on your body's defense mechanisms and cause it to hoard the few calories it is getting. Eat healthy, well-balanced meals, just don't over eat. Eat until you are full, then stop. My rule of thumb is to try and eat a meal just big enough to get me to the next one without requiring snacks.
4.) Snack only if you have to! Snacking is a slippery slope that I try to avoid. That being said, there are times when I am low on energy and I worry that my work output will suffer. Run Gum is very helpful during these times as it is a zero calorie way of getting the energy I need. Caffeine has also been shown to act as an appetite suppressant and each piece of Run Gum has 50mg of the good stuff. I find that if I chew a pack it buys me a couple hours before I am hungry again. If I really need something in my stomach, then I like to go with air popped popcorn. At 35 calories per cup, you feel like you are eating a lot of food, but in reality, there isn't much to it.
5.) Speaking of calorie cutting, here is the absolute hardest part of losing weight for me: cut back on the soda and beer! It hurts just to write that. Maybe not so much the soda part as I don't drink a ton of it, but cutting back on beer is really hard for me. That being said, these two beverages are VERY calorie dense. I find that when I crave either of them, drinking sparkling water can curb my cravings.
6.) This leads me to perhaps the most important tip of all. DRINK WATER. Honestly, this may be the most important weight cutting tip of all. Drinking water helps nearly every metabolic function in your body. Furthermore, it fills up your stomach. I am always amazed at how much less I eat if I drink a large glass of water right before I sit down to a meal.
7.) Finally, work your ass off. Cutting weight requires exercise. Period. Some people believe it is ok to lose weight just by dieting, but you know how I feel about that word.
Good luck to everyone working towards your own weight goals. I've got some great tips on how to add weight also, but you'll have to buy me a cheeseburger and beer to hear those! :D
Nick "Race Weight" Symmonds