Part Three: FIVE, Five, five
On a recent Tim Ferriss Show, he interviewed Dr. Peter Attia and did it in the format of having Attia talk about 5 things he is excited about, 5 things he has stopped doing, and 5 things he continues to do. I thought that this would be a brilliant way to discuss the end of one year and the start of an exciting one ahead. This is the last of the three part series.
5 Things I Continue to Do
1. Fasting (and Feasting)- My goal for this year started off to be somewhat more competitive on the bike, and I know exactly what I must do to accomplish this (I think). I need to train sensibly, add some weights or plyometric exercises in the winter months, and I need to eat well to hit a good race weight.
A good race weight in my case means about 160 lbs, or about 10-12 less than I am at right now. The way that I maintain my weight always revolves around intermittent fasting, and I am going to match that up with a better diet to get where I want to be by late April or early May.
For me, fasting is relatively easy because I don’t really crave anything when I wake up except a nice cup of coffee. I use what amounts to an 16/8 fasting approach. I don’t eat until 11 am and I try not to eat after dinner (but definitely not after 7 pm). So 16 hours off and 8 on is a natural approach for me. That works for me because at work, my natural break is 11 and we always eat dinner by 6. Since, I am an early to bed person, I am always asleep by 10-10:30, so I can easily fast for 13 hours even if I snack while watching television.
I know that there are many benefits to fasting, and I will not claim to be an expert on these, but for me it is simply a means of calorie limiting with some flexibility on feast days. I have read and continue to be a fan of the Feast.Fast.Fit approach from Fred Duncan. How I utilize Fred’s book is to fast two or three days and train four or five. On my hard training days, I feast, which for me means at 170 lbs., I try to get 2210-2550 calories consisting of 205g Carbs, 70g Fat, and 170g Protein. On fasting days, I try to get 900-1600 calories consisting of 50g Carbs, 40g Fat, and 120g Protein.
It can be difficult at times to get the proper amount of protein on either day or to limit the carbs on fasting days. I do feel that the purposeful eating to fuel and fast helps me to stay focused on rest on fasting days. I’m on or I’m off, and my nutrition follows the purpose of the workouts.
The big benefit of all that protein is the satiating properties it has, and when matched with its muscle building, it is essential. I think that before Duncan’s advice, I had never really achieved my proper macro goals while training. And for me, the macro balance and fasting/feasting is easier to achieve than a diet that simply restricts one to the same number of calories every day when trying to lose weight. I simply set specific My Fitness Pal macro goals (you must have the unlimited $50 annual subscription, but it’s worth it). I put in the feast macro goals and then the fast macro goals, checking the tick boxes for the days I normally work out and take off. I can change these week by week rather simply.
For me, fasting builds upon my normal eating behaviors, and when added to Duncan’s macros and caloric guidelines, it makes a simple way for me to maintain or lose weight. It also gives me the ability to enjoy my food more once in a while. I still try not to eat junk food, but the quantity shifting works for me. I’m hungry on days I work hard, and I don’t need to eat a ton on days I don’t. If it helps me be more metabolically efficient or regulates my insulin levels, I guess those are a bonus.
2. Tubeless tires- Tubeless tires are a pint of contention in many circles, but I guess there are people who don’t want low tire pressures, lower rolling resistance, better grip, and virtually no flats. I have written about tubeless tires many times on the blog, so I won’t bore you too much, but after adding tubeless cyclocross tires to my arsenal this past season, I have to say my tubeless love affair goes on and tubeless gravel tires will soon follow.
Get a charger pump or use an air compressor, and with good rims and a little luck, you will be loving life. I carry a tube or Tubolito in the saddle bag, and I almost never have any issues. I sometimes worry that the tubes in my bag have been in there so long without being opened that they might be rotting.
I’m not giving up on tubeless any time soon, and I am dedicated to perfecting my technique of filling the tires with sealant and not making a mess. When I figure out that, I will let you all know!
3. Meditating- Whether you use Calm, Headspace, YouTube, or just close your eyes, meditating is something simple that everyone can do to improve their lives dramatically. I started at least a year ago when I started to explore the Buddhist traditions, and it is apparent that meditation is a big part of that. I read Joy on Demand, and I started to try to meditate every day even of for only five minutes, but usually I shoot for ten or twenty. The book is now free for Kindle on Amazon Prime, by the way.
It’s not always easy to find a quiet place at home where I can do this without scrutiny or happy dog attacks, but I try because the benefits are clear. I am more focused. My breathing is steady, and when working at high heart rates I can remain calm. I no longer feel the frantic breathing that I used to when working out or racing. When things happen around me, I feel that I get a moment of clarity before I react. I cannot say that I am a great meditation practitioner, but I can settle my mind better now than I could when I first started.
My process is simple. If I can, I use the Headspace app or search for a good meditation on YouTube. I like the feeling of meditating to a voice, a pulse or tone while focusing on the breath. A mantra can also be effective, but it is important to note that what I do might not work for you. It’s also okay to change your style or method. Mixing it up is okay. There are many styles. Mine is mindfulness that uses a focus on the breath and noting things like body weight and the feel of the chest rising and falling. I just try to clear my mind. Think of a snow globe freshly shook. I wait until the snowflakes settle.
If you need help, I like the Headspace app, as I find that it has lots of lessons, good variety and offers focus music which I use at work a lot when I am typing reports and reading. It’s $70 for a year, but I find that it is worth it. On YouTube, I really like the transcendental (tone based) meditations that Raphael Reiter has been doing. There are many free resources out there, but the benefits of meditating daily will be of great value to you. Try it.
4. Sobriety- Frank Sinatra once said, “I feel sorry for people that don't drink because when they wake up in the morning, that is the best they’re going to feel all day.” Well, Frank can fly to the moon, because for me sobriety isn’t something to take lightly.
Drinking was surely the worst habit I ever had. Now, I enjoy feeling great when I wake up, and I wouldn’t go back to boozing for all the beer handups in the world. I'm not going to dwell on it or get all personal and such, but I am going to maintain my sobriety. Five years and counting, and I am still going strong. Best of all, I have no problem with going out or having alcohol around me. I’m still fun, and I’m still wildly inappropriate at parties. It’s a win win. I’m not giving up giving up in 2020.
5. Road cycling and road racing- The last thing I am not giving up in 2020 is my love for road cycling. I watch the Facebook posts with great disdain, as people bemoan the drivers and the road conditions. Every year, I hear people say they’re buying gravel and mountain bikes and never riding on the road again. Go and get a gravel or mountain bike, but I am never going to completely give up riding on the road. I just find better places to ride, and I go with caution.
I think the anti-road movement is a little misguided at times. Most of the time people are complaining about traffic. I m not trying to make light of teh accidents that people have had this year, and I myself know what it's like to get cut off and thrown across the hood of a car. Luckily, I was not harmed. But, I cannot help but think that one of the major reasons for this feeling of being "unsafe" is because folks are trying to fly down heavily trafficked streets that they should not be riding wildly on. Learn about your city and your streets. Do your sprint or VO2 max intervals on the trainer. Find a quiet loop. Use your brain more and your mouth (or Facebook page) a little less.
Road racing has also taken a bad rap lately, as many move towards watching cyclocross and gravel racing. Well, I think the classics and grand tours are still relevant, and I love watching the world’s best road cyclists. Flanders and Strade Bianche are every bit as wild and grueling as Dirty Kanza. I'll pay to watch the Giro, and you can go shred off road in May. And maybe I will join you afterwards. Why can’t we have both? Why can’t we have it all.