The older we get, the harder it is to make weight!
Is that because the metabolism slows down with age or is it just because we get more comfortable with being over-weight as we get older? I’m not sure. Either way, each year I seem to find it more difficult to hold back the unrelenting encroachment of middle-aged spread.
I officially retired as a professional boxer when I turned 35. I weighed just under 70kg at the time of my last fight. Within a month of that fight I had put on 5 kilograms. Within a few months I put on 10! That was nearly 15 years ago, and I’ve never been on speaking terms with the bathroom scales since that time, until recently!
When someone prompted me to enrol in the boxing division in the ‘Masters Games’ I took it as a challenge. I figured it was important for me to continue to work on my pugilistic skills and to set myself goals. Moreover though I reckoned that this was the challenge I needed to get my weight back under control. So I filled out the online enrolment form and in the spot where it asked for my weight I wrote ’75kg’. I was around 84kg at the time. That was three months before the games were scheduled to begin.
I figured that three months was plenty of time to lose nine kilos. My plan was to attack the weight from three angles:
* Increase my training activity
* Regulate my diet more carefully
* Take supplements that would accelerate the weight-loss process.
I took it slowly at first, and indeed I was hoping that I could get away with just increasing my exercise and not worrying too much about the diet or the supplements. That turned out not to work too well. My body was not nearly as responsive as it used to be!
In the first month I increased my training activity radically. I had been using the Adidas ‘MiCoach’ system for about six months already by that stage – scheduling runs of between 5 and 10 kilometres about three times per week. This was in addition to my boxing training of course, which also happened three times per week. I thought that if I increased the number of my runs to six per week that this should make a significant impact, even with minimal changes to my diet. It didn’t.
By the end of the first month I had certainly increased my aerobic fitness, but had only lost about 1.5 kg! The wise women in my life (my wife and my eldest daughter – both of whom are qualified fitness professionals) blamed a variety of factors:
* I was still eating poorly (ie. too many carbs, too much fat, etc.)
* I was eating late at night (as I regularly work through till 2am and snack as I go)
* I was running late at night rather than early morning (generally at around midnight)
In the second month I tried to address my diet more seriously. Most significantly, I stopped snacking on tasty treats, which was hard as the Bourke Street Bakery kindly supplies our Youth Centre with all their left-over pastries at the end of each day and a rhubarb tart had become a luxury that I looked forward to each day. I also cut out all fruit juice and my glass of red wine in the evening. Breakfast was strictly a blended concoction of soy-based protein-powder and fresh fruit.
I also hit the supplements in month two. I purchased things like ‘fat metabolisers’ and other capsules that were supposed to increase the speed of my digestion. These cost a fortune, as did the protein bars that were substituted for between-meal snacks. Even so, I figured it would only be for a couple of months.
By the end of month two I was just under 80kg. In other words, I was about half way there! This was not good news as it meant I now had to work out a way of losing four kilograms in four weeks – ie. about double the rate of weight loss that I had been achieving up to that point. Again, after consulting with the wise women, I made three more changes:
1. I cut out all fruit from my diet – trying to go carb-free.
2. I increase my running activity to twice per day, six days per week.
3. I tried to get more sleep.
This last initiative had been one that hadn’t occurred to me until Veronica (my beloved eldest daughter) suggested it. She says that 8.5 hours sleep per night is optimal for someone who is trying to lose weight. I normally average between 5 and 6 hours per night.
The result… I made the weight!
Over those last few weeks I trained like a Trojan, ate like a squirrel, and slept like a… well, I’m not sure what the best analogy is, but I slept a lot more than I usually do. My work suffered as a result but my body thrived on the extra rest, and I started shedding kilos like an autumn tree shedding leaves!
In truth, I don’t know which of these changes contributed the most to helping me achieve my goal. I’m guessing that it was the combination of cutting out the carbs and increasing the rest.
That was all three weeks ago. Since that time I’ve relaxed my diet. I’ve re-introduced my blended fruit and soy-protein shake into my mornings and I enjoy the occasional mid-meal snack. I’ve also stopped taking all the expensive supplements. I’m still running six days per week in addition to my boxing training (which is three times per week) but I’m only running once per day. I’ve also returned to my old sleeping pattern of getting between five and six hours sleep per night. The result: I’ve already put two kilos back on!
I’m sure it wasn’t this much work when I was younger!
I think the only solution for me is to set myself constant challenges, and so I’ve lined up another fight for myself in about four weeks’ time. That means losing two kilos in four weeks.
I think I’ll take it slowly at first…
Father Dave Smith is the only Australian in Holy Orders to have boxed professionally. He trains young people at his Dulwich Hill Gym in the skills of boxing. Visit http://dulwichhillgym.com/ to learn more.