As I was saying to some friends, I haven't seen a 72 on a scale since I stepped on a big lit-up machine on Brigade Road with a little coloured disc that spun as the machine spat out a little cardboard rectangle with my weight stamped on one side, my fortune on the other.
I'm posting this because I realised that a lot of people still focus on fat as the thing to cut back on to lose weight. Cutting back on fat did nothing to my fat deposits, or caused only the slightest shift. I saw big changes only after targeting starchy carbs: rice, pasta and bread (I was never much of a potato eater). This includes whole wheat bread and brown rice.
I've largely replaced those calories with fruit and vegetable (don't forget, these are carbs as well). However, and this should be of interest to people who love food, I have no hard and fast rules. I haven't gone crazy here--just watchful. Every Friday, my wife and I eat deep-fried, oily, spicy Sichuan dishes with a ton of rice. Saturday is often another meal outside--maybe a good burger or more Chinese food (we live in an area with great Chinese food). I have no hesitation about eating good stuff like bacon or fatty braised pork or rib-eye steaks or deep-fried chicken.
I do, however, balance it. A heavy lunch will be followed by a light dinner; a bad weekend by a good week (with a cheat meal or two!). In fact my body now demands that--I just cannot eat the way I used to.
A few things:
1) It's hard in the beginning. Eating platefuls of rice or piles of rotis is, in the end, simply feeding your body sugar. You are addicted and you are driven to eat more than you need--that's just how we're set up. You WILL have some degree of withdrawal--irritability, extreme hunger, tiredness.
2) Good things happen quickly. Once the cold turkey goes away, it's replaced with a great feeling of lightness and energy. Meals actually energise, and don't make you feel over-full or bloated or sleepy.
3) Meals keep you full without seeming to fill you. If you are eating some meat and a lot of vegetables, or even, on some "good" days, just salad for lunch, you'll be amazed at how long it keeps you full, and how non-cravey your hunger is when it does appear. When the rice/bread/pasta is all processed, the crash makes you crave more starchy stuff and it's a true craving--you can't resist stuffing yourself silly again.
4) Making the rich food a treat actually makes it more enjoyable.
5) Sometimes I remind myself to look for pleasure in the hours, not the minutes. Fatty/deep-fried/starchy carb loaded meals are delightful to eat. One of the best of life's experiences--I truly love this kind of food. But once the eating is done, I can't deny they do not feel good. You feel sluggish, sleepy, fat. You have indigestion, can't sleep well and the next morning isn't a lot of fun either. So sometimes, I do play a slightly long game and say, "Yes, I'm denying myself this now, but guess what, I'll feel GREAT about it in 10 minutes". And I almost always do. If I don't, I eat it--I'm not here to make myself miserable.
6) Apart from treat meals, I still eat bread/rice just before, during or after a hard or long ride. Since my rice eating is on the weekend and my long rides are also on the weekend, I think it really helps.
How much cutting back? On average:
Rice: From every day or at least every other day to once or twice on the weekend
Pasta: From 3/4 times a week to never. (No rule, just don't miss it even though I LOVE spaghetti with pesto.)
Bread: From every day to once or twice a week, usually just before a ride
Of course, this will be a lot harder in Bangalore when there are lunch meets, family outings, dinner parties and weddings galore. Also, Indian food without rice or roti is like half the pleasure gone. At the same time out here in Cali, I'm very aware it's our last few months, so I tend to eat out a fair amount. So as I said, you don't need to go crazy to lose the weight.
Also, I've been doing strength exercises and eating protein, so I'm not losing muscle weight. I hope. Silk Smitha thighs on Keira Knightley's body seems to be the general model for cyclists who lose weight.
Oh almost forgot! What about performance on the bike? Better than ever. I feel that my energy is more predictable day to day, and less prone to fast drops in performance after a hour or two on the bike. I feel better on the bike than I ever have before. touch wood and all. Yes my training has changed, but I noticed the improvements from the eating before the big changes in my training.
Also, I haven't been ill since I started eating like this. A couple of colds threatened, but Zicam seemed to send them on their way.
Thanks for reading and I really hope this helps someone. I've noticed quite a few riders (even some "seniors") wondering why they aren't losing weight even though they are riding a lot. Usual disclaimers apply--I'm not a coach, I'm not a nutritionist, what works for me may not work for you etc.