Finally concluded that I need help turning my life around

Dear forum.

I am a 30 years old fatso wanting to become fit. Right now I hate riding uphill, which is less than ideal since there is nowhere to ride around here without hills :). Apart from a few sporadic attempts, there has been little training and a crap diet.

For many years I would not eat anything before evening/late afternoon, then I would eat a pizza or some other junk (1200-1500kcal). I would occasionally binge on candy or chips & dip, and coke. Weight was stable, but I had short periods where I would put on 5-10kg. In the end I weighed somewhere between 125 and 135kg.

For a while I got my act together. My diet looked like this:

07:00 bowl of oatmeal
10:00 a slice of bread with cheese
12:00 a slice of bread with cheese
17:00 1 portion of something from Jamie Olivers 15minutes cookbook (500-800kcal).

I would not feel hungy before eating dinner, but got really hungry after. I would ignore that. I dropped weight fast in the beginning, then it slowed. At the lowest I was about 100kg, but after 1 week of too much beer, pastries and dinners, I gained about 5kg. I got back into bad habits, and went back to 112kg. Now I keep swinging between 104 and 108kg. I also think I lost a lot of muscles during this period, as my back sometimes act up now. That was never a problem before.

height: 165 cm
weight: 105 kg
ftp: No idea, only 1 bicycle ride and 1 mountain hike with 15kg backpack. Strange thing is that both of these suggest that my form is better than in a very long time.

I have done some attempts at training, but without a proper diet. I have not been able to stick with it though,
I want to get back into training, but before doing that I think I will have more success starting with the diet. Problem is that I am at a loss about both training and diet.

I have been trying to read up about diets, but there is so much contradicting information that I am about to give up. Also, counting calories is not an option, as that is something I am never going to be able to stick to. I want to change my lifestyle, not do some quickfix, and then gain back the weight. Gastric bypass, or similar operations is also not an alternative.

As for training, I think I need more muscle mass, but I am really confused about if I should do just strength training, just bicycle training, or a combination, and how I should combine them. Should I start a low volume base plan, or would I be better off just riding?

I would appreciate any tips or good sources for information.

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Woah! Too much to unpack!

My quick ‘n’ dirty suggestions:

  1. focus on health first and foremost before even giving performance a thought;
  2. consult with your doc about formulating a general lifestyle plan to get you up and going;
  3. accept the fact you are human and you will stumble from time to time – go easy on yourself. Things will go up and down but as long as you are headed in the right direction know that what you are doing is the right thing.

Good luck and have FUN! :+1:

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From an exercise point of view, I’d be inclined to keep it simple and just ride your bike for fun, whenever you feel like it and keep it pressure-free, rather than a regimented chore, for now at least. If you’re enjoying it, you’ll be far more likely to stick at it and, assuming you’re in the Northern hemisphere, now’s the perfect time to get stuck in. By the time autumn/winter comes round (and quite possibly before) you may have found a groove, hopefully be seeing some positive results, and therefore more likely to stick to a more regimented training plan.

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I agree with @Captain_Doughnutman. I would start with the diet. I weight 70-71kg and 171cm. I used the MyFitnessPal app to help me lose weight. I have now used it for 2300 consecutive days. At first I used it to see what I was eating and realise how bad, calorie wise, some foods were. That biscuit had many more calories than I thought, so did that cake etc. I still weigh in every Sunday. Not to be anal about it, but to make sure I am nipping a trend (upwards) in the bud :slight_smile:

Although I still use the app it is more of a guide as I have learnt to avoid the really bad foods, or at least know it is a treat and shouldn’t be a regular thing. The extra calories are earnt. Strava will add them when it syncs that long ride. It will give me a treat day. @chad will give you some extra calories from the workouts. The workouts tell you how many. Strava will probably give you too many calories so I knock some off.

The workouts will be hard. It won’t matter what your FTP is, the workouts will be adjusted for it, so they will be hard for everyone, whatever level. The benefits will be worthwhile.

Hope this helps.

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Good luck and yes, diet steadily, and forget about the power/strength/muscle mass for now. That’s a massive headache you don’t want to get into when going for significant weight loss. You’ve done so well already. Really impressive. Just need to watch you don’t hit it too hard too often or you’ll rebound!

But even when you do rebound, and you will, it’s not the end of the world. Just get back on the wagon!

Simple diet plan without calorie counting

  • cut out sugar completely, or as close to it as you can get
  • mainly use carbs (pasta, rice, bread, potatoes) for fuelling workouts. I.e. on the days when you’re not training you really don’t need much in the way of carbs, the more training you’re doing the more carbs you need.
  • stick to whole foods as much as possible, not processed foods
  • Fill up as much as you want on vegetables (not potatoes). Nobody ever got fat stuffing their face with carrots, broccoli and cabbage.
  • Don’t go overboard on fruit, a few pieces a day are fine but it’s got a fair bit of natural sugars in. Same with healthy but calorie-dense foods like nuts, seeds, avocado, East them in moderation. Dairy also pretty calorific so take it easy there, some would say cut it out but cheese tastes so good…

Exercise wise I’d say anything is good, the most important thing is to get into the exercise habit and that means finding something (or things) you enjoy and can easily fit into your daily routine. Hiking, MTB, lifting, anything that elevates the heart rate and gets you burning calories is good. In terms of TR plans start with a Base plan (either Sweet Spot or Traditional Base) and go from there. But you can also leave the structured training until later if you want, just exercising most days and cleaning up your diet will get you huge initial gains in both fitness and body composition.

Key thing is that if you have a bad day (or even week), don’t fall off the wagon and give up altogether. If it helps, schedule in one night a week where you can treat yourself to a pizza and a couple of beers. I’ll be honest, I’ve got a bit of an unhealthy relationship with exercise and food where I use exercise as justification for regularly indulging my love of all things unhealthy (beer, wine, pizza, ice cream, pies, cookies, doughnuts - I love the lot!), but I figure it’s better than indulging myself without the exercise, and it’s kept my weight more or less the same for my entire adult life of 25+ years. I can cut out the crap completely when I need to for a few months to get lean for a big race, but I’m happier carrying a few extra pounds and having the occasional treat.

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Hi

In a former life just over 10 years ago I used to weigh around 330 pounds or 150kg for those of you who work in metric.

Here’s the thing. There is so much bullshit out there about diets but the only one that works is the one that works for you. People evangelise far too much about a particular plan (Keto/Atkins/fruitarian/weight watchers etc.) when this sort of thing is extremely individual.

These days I’ve levelled out around 85kg and for the most part I stay there (apart from a year break where cancer got in the way).

All I can say is this:

  • Calorie counting worked for me as I’m a stats nerd. Hence why I use TR and a power meter!
  • Don’t overcompensate for exercise. But do fuel for exercise as you’ll feel like crap if you don’t.
  • Never ever deprive yourself of things you like. Beer, cake whatever. Just have a bit less or don’t go mad on the cake on the days you have beer.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if you have a bad weekend. But get back in your routine quickly. Routines are easily broken.
  • Go slow. When I tried fad diets in the past the quicker I lost weight, the faster I gained it back. I’m looking at you Dr Atkins…
  • Eat a varied diet. Do not exclude food groups. Carbs are not evil. Protein is not the solutions. Balance is everything.

But as I warned earlier those are the things that worked for me. Best of luck and if you need any support, happy to help.

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I don’t know where you live but if as you say there are nothing but hills around I would seriously think about getting an electric bike as struggling up hills when you are overweight and unfit is an exceedingly unpleasant experience, Grinding away at low cadences doesn’t do you a lot of good and your knees could pay the price in the future. Electric bikes in hilly terrain allow you to go out and enjoy yourself and give an insight into what you are trying to achieve, Good luck

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Sounds a little similar to my life five years ago. From being a fit jock type in high school and college to someone who was pushing 188. It didn’t hit me that I was so different when I hopped on my girlfriend’s scale and asked her if it was broken.
Got a bike. A mountain bike. Then a steel road bike to help train and get more miles in. No structure. Just riding. I lived in the mountains, so you always had to go up.
Diet: This was huge. I cut out soda pop and my food intake was basically chicken breasts, rice, and broccoli. Every day. Bfast were eggs, waffles, some oat meal. I didn’t count calories.
I went from 188 to 145 in about a year. The first winter I added some weight as it was tough to keep off.
Every week I wanted to add more miles, beat my strava times, get on the top 10 leader boards. I raced XC every two weeks. Did okay. A year later I was winning the sport categories and bumped up to expert. Top 5 usually in expert. Jumped to pro. top 10. This took a lot of time and work. And really, I wasn’t doing much structure besides hammering the local trails and segments. A typical week would be: Monday - easy 30 miles on the road. Tuesday: Hammer fest/tempo 2 hours Weds: working on skills/descending, Thursday: 1-90 mins full gas, Friday: usually a day off or easy hour of pedaling. Saturday 4-5 hours Sunday 5-6 hours on the road bike.

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I think it is also good that realise this is a lifestyle change. @chad has mentioned on the podcast a few times that diets fail because people get to their target then go back to their old lifestyle, then wonder why they put the weight back on.

Best of luck to you.

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Hi there, and welcome - interesting username!

Keep it simple.

  1. Cycling
    Ride outside whenever you want, but start on a low volume TrainerRoad plan, sweet spot Base I. The structure will help fitness and your consistency, it’s 3-3.5hrs per week so you should be able to fit it in and ramp it up over the year.

  2. Food and Drink
    Find a healthy diet you’d like to have, and work towards it. Like training, drastic changes may not work out in the long run. I like a healthy basis, so even if I over eat I know I’ve got the good stuff in there first.

  3. Counselling
    Find yourself someone or a support group you can go to an hour a week and talk through what your doing. You may find that there’s more than diet and exercise to this problem.

My journey started when I saw what had happened in the mirror, I phoned a friend who was a personal trainer and she got me moving.

Good luck!

Part of changing lifestyle is being at least a little aware of the calories you’re consuming. That DOESN’T mean counting them - I realise that is too much for many people. But it does mean being a little bit aware of it. What’s high calorie, what’s low calorie. For example, the cheese (and butter, if you’re using it) with your slice of bread twice a day probably has as many calories as the bread. Swap the butter and cheese for hummus, and you could probably add an extra slice of bread and still have the same calories.

So it’s not so much counting calories, but finding out what’s healthy, what healthy foods you like, and filling your kitchen with them, so when you get hungry you have some of that, not a soda and a pasty.

Just ride. The electric bike idea above is a good one.

Just have a banana before you ride, and arrange it so you eat a good meal soon after. As the popular saying on here goes, “don’t diet on the bike”.

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A lot of excellent advice and suggestions have been given by several individuals on this post. And they’re spot on. Here’s what worked for me starting about a year and a half ago.

After realizing that I couldn’t lose the weight on my own, after trying over and over again over the years, I found a “Healthy Weight” class that was offered by my health care provider. The classes consisted of meeting with a nutrition coach attended by about 15 to 20 people once a week for 12 weeks. We tracked our weight weekly. We learned about food, calories, daily eating habits, daily hunger cycles, portion control, how we sabotage ourselves, how others inadvertently sabotage us, the knowledge that we will slip up in our eating habits (it’s ok to binge once in a while, just not every day, and not to feel guilty), that we can eat anything we want, just not to excess. We were taught that we could eat anything we wanted, there were no food restrictions to feel guilty about. With the premise that we could eat anything we wanted we learned about portion control and what we should have on our plate and how much. Snacks are important. Tracking food consumption was important as a diary, and provided an awareness of how many calories foods have, and having a history of what we were eating. We used My Fitness Pal which provided an awareness of the calories in the food we were consuming. Our coach said it takes one to three years to develop and maintain a healthy eating habit. I learned how to read the nutrition labels. I took the class twice. I lost 30 pounds. Some people lost considerably more, some less. But everyone in the class, that is those who stuck with it, lost weight. I found out that a serving of potato chips was not half the bag (or sometimes the whole bag). And potato chips were OK to eat once in a while, just not very often. A serving of ice cream is not a quarter gallon (dang it)! A slice of bread is 100 calories so I make my sandwiches with only one slice of bread now. Butter, and I like lots of butter, is 100 calories per tablespoon - and I was using about at least three tablespoons on my pancakes! Now I eat them without butter and a lot less maple syrup too. And they taste the same really. Mayonnaise on a sandwich is also about 100 calories and it takes several tablespoonfuls to be worthwhile. So I don’t use any. I tracked my diet and try to only have about 1800 calories a day now. I found it amazing how the “little things” add up and quickly. I bought and use a food scale. So all this and more took a while to get into a new habit. I’ve not mastered it yet, maybe never will, but I eat better and can go up hills on my bike much easier. And that’s very noticeable. Also a major part of the class included some form of exercise daily/weekly, even if it was just walking 30 minutes (even if it was broken up to 10 minutes three times a day).

It took a while to master the grocery store. I still get the impulses to buy the day old cup cakes that are a heck of a deal. I even put them in my grocery cart. And after a few minutes of pushing the cart around the store and thinking about the cup cakes and asking myself “Do I really need this” I end up putting them back. I also now ask myself the question “How would I feel if I bought this “pleasure food” and how would I feel if I didn’t buy it”. Now I feel a whole lot better by the self satisfaction that I conquered the food temptation when I don’t purchase it.

I talked to my wife (not athletic at all) about needing her help in choosing the food we were purchasing and to cut back on the junk foods. She has a different commitment (none) than I do but does make sure we eat healthy meals. She’s aware of my desire to lose and maintain a lower weight so has cut back on the pleasure foods too.

I once had the mantra that whenever I felt like exercising if I laid down on the couch that feeling would go away in about 20 minutes. Now riding my bike, both indoors and out, is a major part of my life.

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Starting late 2014 I went down from ~95kg to 67.5kg being 173cm and now 41yo. I did it all: keto, extreme calorie counting, exercise. At first, since I was untrained, my workout intensity was too high which lead to either binge eating or very low levels of energy. Be mindful of that. Also, take it slow, work on your mind just as on your body. You rightly say your life has to change - that is only possible if you change your mind. Good luck.

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A lot of good advice above.
I’ll add one more.
Either put a stationary bike or a treadmill in front of the TV. If you watch TV, it has to be biking very easy or walking on the treadmill. Not only are you less likely to snack, but walking while watching a football game is serious calorie expenditure with minimal muscular and joint impact.

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So much great advice here!

One thing I might add is you better manage your expectations. There is hardly a silver bullet, and at least for myself the 180-turnarounds rarely worked in the past (and neither do I know anyone else who had success). It is a process of small steps and constantly tweaking your lifestyle for the better.

You’re in a good place to start. It is clear that you nderstand how basic dietary priciples work and you have decided that you will do something about your situation. I would now start with setting a goal. Ambitious, but achievable. Something you can reach when many, buit not necessarily all things go to plan. Visualize that goal and reaching it will make you feel.

Don’t starve yourself and don’t try to do too much too early to avoid binging or rebounding. A small but sustainable caloric deficit is what you want.

As for training, nothing prevents you from riding your bike right away. For now don’t worry about muscle mass or FTP. Ride your bike for fun. If you want to use a stationary, put it in front of the TV. Use it to support your caloric deficit. You will see tremendous results early on by just consistently doing something.

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March 2017 I was exactly at the same point as you are.

I’m 165cm(5’ 4’’) short and I weighed 109kg(240lbs). I’ve tried everything from calorie counting to LCHF. But when I started intermittent fasting is what kickstarted. Generally fasting worked very well for me even though I probably lost a lot of muscles in the meantime that wasn’t my priority.

December 2017 I weighed 68,8kg.

However!

Things that I consider important and things I’ve learned.

  • I ramped up training hours from 2-3hrs/week to 8hrs/week. That probably contributed more than just fasting.
  • I did NOT exclude candy/desserts and other stuff I like because that would’ve killed my diet immediately.

The hardest part of loosing weight is the long damn journey after hitting a target weight. Because by then you’ll want and need to convert all the remaining visible fat to muscles and that’s when the really hard part takes over. I’m still at that being sub 70kg and round 18-19% bodyfat according to my Withings scale. I strength train and train around 12hrs/week now and I’ve gone to just doing a fasted ride on Sundays and fuel for workouts the other days. Otherwise I’m counting calories because my eating habits are just now starting to get to normal levels.

Sorry for a long reply I really wanted to make it short but I have so much to say about this considering what I’ve done. Which by no means I find extraordinary or special but just what I needed to do.

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Hi! Welcome. I work in the fitness industry and just want to say that you are not alone. There is so much contradictory information and people get analysis paralysis. I ALWAYS suggest a book called BURN THE FAT, FEED THE MUSCLE by Tom Venuto. But it and use it as a reference guide. In easy to comprehend chapters, it breaks down macros, calories, suggested ways to eat, exercise examples, weight lifting ideas. It helps you understand food as fuel. You are in an ideal situation where any positive changes you make right now will make a difference. You will also experience several gains in the first 6 weeks of exercise because of the initial neuromuscular adaptations. You must start simply though. To ensure consistency, choose to make one to two changes per week. Second week, keep the initial changes and add one or two more. Etc etc until you have built up a strong platform to build upon. So week one, maybe make water and sleep your priority. First thing in the morning, with every meal and snack, and a big glass at night. Aim for 8 hours a night. Week two, water, sleep, eat 3 meals and two snacks a day and do 15-20 minutes of exercise a day. Week three, water, sleep, meals/snacks, exercise but focus more on quality and quantity of your foods (add more greens to your meals) and do 30 minutes of exercise a day. Etc etc. Just keep refining and improving. Rules : 1) we all screw up. Stay on track 80% of the time. If you mess up, forgive yourself and get back on. 2)keep talking. Ask for help and advice. Find a group close to you where you can meet like minded people. We all have a story, share yours. 3)understand that food choices and exercise go well beyond what you look like and how much you weigh. Every positive change you make changes something in your body at a cellular level. If you have a bad day, a bad week, you feel like nothing has changed, understand that things are still changing for the better, you just may not be able to see it. 4)health and fitness takes time. Be patient, it is worth it. 5)daily weight changes mean nothing. Your body weight can change within 7lbs a day. To truly gain a pound of fat, you have to eat IN Excess of your basal metabolic needs, around 3,500 extra calories. Weight ‘gain’ from day to day is water retention, sodium, waste, etc etc and is typically temporary. 6) aim for 2-3 lb weight loss per week in the first three weeks. After that 1-2 lbs per week. Anything more than that is potentially muscle loss or a weird anomaly. It may not sound like much but remember, changes on a cellular level means more. 7) yes do weights as well as cardio, but it doesn’t have to start today. Get your foundation set up first. Everything you are doing will make a difference but if you take on too much at once and stop, it’s all for naught. Start at the basics. Stick to the basics. As you learn and grow, commit to more. Xo xo

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Thanks for all the kind words and great advice. I really appreciate it. It’s gonna take a while to take in everything written here.

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heck yeah! This is awesome. Kudos to you for wanting to make a change!

I would start by trying to change your eating habits; go in the grocery store and only eat the foods from the perimeter; fruits, veggies, lean meats, etc.

If there are friends that you tend to eat poorly with, don’t eat with them.

Training…just find an activity that you like doing; do you like lifting? Go to the gym? Do you like riding? Start biking. Maybe running. Whatever it is, try to find something that is beyond just a means to losing weight.

Do you have a friend that can join you on the journey so that you keep each other accountable?

Keep us posted!! You’ll get there. Be patient, and work hard at it. It won’t be easy, but it will be so worth it.

I lost 35lb and there are good days and bad days. You’ll find your way to success and reach out when you need help.