Intermittent Fasting, DH Training, and Strength Training

Today is Day one of going back to intermittent fasting.

But before that, some background, for the few people who may actually stumble across this blog.

I am 33 years old. I have been into mountain biking for as long as I can remember, and was competitive on a national level in both Downhill and XC events when I was in high school. I was also a competitive (although not necessarily gifted) runner, finishing well in many cross-country events, and local 5Ks. I enjoyed running, but it was nothing compared to the thrill of Downhill.

After high school, there were some factors at play that pulled me away from the sport. I got into cars, I got into drinking, I got into playing guitar, and I got into the typical college life. From my 18th birthday to my 20th birthday, I had transformed from a fit, healthy high school athlete into an unrecognizable mess of fat. 50 pounds of slop tends to do that.

From 2002 until 2008, life was a blur. I was generally drunk, sucking down cigarettes, cheap beer and fast food on a daily basis. I was entirely sedentary and had no aspirations to live any other way. Looking back, I simply did not know what I wanted out of life. I was a mess.

Seven years ago, I rediscovered mountain biking, specifically my love of Downhill, and have stayed highly involved in the sport since.

But the problem was that I now weighed 240 pounds (up from 160 in high school) and couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without taking a break. Over the next few years, I went on a ketogenic diet. I tried P90X. I couldn’t stick with anything. I wanted to lose fat and “get in shape” whatever that meant. At the time, my ideal body type looked nothing like what I envision today. At least I managed to quit smoking.

In September of 2012, I finally decided it was time to get serious. I joined a gym, but couldn’t bring myself to enter it for two weeks. I was terrified. I had never attempted a strength training program in my adult life, and was completely baffled as to what I should be doing. Within a week of my first workout, I started really enjoying it, however. I kept track of my workouts. I paid attention to my form. I started to see progress.

But as many newbies do, I went overboard as soon as I started seeing progress in October. I cut calories to an absolutely absurd low (under 1000 per day, with almost all of it coming from protein). I was on the treadmill for two hours a day. I saw strength gains, but in all reality, I was wasting away.

By late November, I had dropped from 230 pounds to 185. I wasn’t skinny-fat, per se, but hadn’t really made much progress in terms of strength gains. Exhausted, I took a bit of a break from the gym.

Fast forward to August 2013. I had a great job, and my office had a fantastic gym on the premises. I was gaining weight again, but managed to mitigate it somewhat. But the real revelation happened in October.

Intermittent fasting was something I thought I could never do. But once I started limiting my meals to the eight-hour window, I realized how easy it was. I dropped the window to six, then four hours per day. And I started shredding fat.

From October to May of 2014, I burned fat like crazy, while slipping up from time to time and eating like an absolute pig on weekends (think: donuts, breakfast burritos, mountain dew, five guys, etc). By the time I moved back to my hometown at the end of May, I was leaner than I had ever been in my adult life, showing some actual definition over the majority of my body, and I had done this with very little cardio.

I fucking love to eat. And my hometown has some incredible food. Last summer was a bit of a homecoming for me, and I was spending evenings not at the gym, but meeting friends at Mexican restaurants, Thai restaurants, bars, burger joints, pizza shops and taco stands. All of it was incredible, but I was putting fat back on.

Despite this, I managed to get on my Downhill bike and win a race for the first time in September. I had stood on the podium before, but never on the top step.

I met my girlfriend in December. She’s incredible. Gorgeous, hard working, positive, kind, and a joy to be around. We love being around each other, and we both love food that’s by all accounts terrible for us. Going out to eat, seeing what delicious foods are available is fun. It breaks up the monotony of the usual “grill food, watch Prison Break or Game of Thrones until we go to sleep” routine. She’s in nursing school as well as holding down a 40+ hour a week shift job at a hospital, so making time for the gym and meal preparation isn’t easy for her.

However, I don’t mind doing the meal prep for her (I’m doing it for myself, so why not?) and when we go to the gym together, it’s fun. We started last week, and she’s already surprised herself when it comes to how much weight she can put up. I have difficulty maintaining a truly intense workout when I’m there with her, but the goal is to get her to the point where we go together, but she’s not in need of guidance while we’re there.

Today is day one. I want to be able to take this further than I ever have. I’d like to see definition in my abdominal muscles by spring. I’ve been close, but never managed to push it that far.

Next post will outline my plans for this.

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