Weight Loss Challenge – The Beginning

Fat slow Triathlete - Weight LossI have never been a fan of weight loss challenges. Yes I have been glued to the TV most seasons of the Biggest Loser and watched in shock last season, as did most of America, as the winner was shown. I though seriously that BL had jumped the shark after that one, but no … last night there it was again. I managed to eschew my normal binge watching of it and caught the football game instead, but I have a feeling I’ll tune in at some point regardless. Sue me.

As someone with these feelings it may be a shock to most reading this that I, John Cecil Harris, the Fat Slow Triathlete himself, entered a weight loss challenge which began last night (9/11). Why do may ask? Money? Yes there is money involved. $500 to the male and female winners in each club. It’s kind of brilliant marketing to be honest. You are already paying for a membership plan (many tiers but mine is $79 a month for 8 classes), yet you have to pay $25 to enter the challenge, along with committing to 3 visits per week minimum … essentially meaning that I had to pay for more classes on top of the normal monthly allotment. So I was looking at the three team boards last night and counted about 150 people signed up. Simple math shows that entry fees alone netted the gym $3,750. Add to that additional classes. Using me as an example for everyone, that an addition 10 classes, so another $180. That equals $8,250. They are giving away $1,000. nice little profit, eh?

What else? Motivation? Yes, there is that. Nothing motivates more than the promise of money for sure. I counted about 45 men (the split in general was about 70/30 females to males). Looking at past winners the percentage lost was in the 12-13% range, meaning at my current weight I would need, at the very least, to lose 33-35 pounds. In 6 weeks. Probably not doable unless I get very unhealthy with my eating habits. So it means I have a 1 in 45 shot, about a 2% chance of winning. Considering, according to the gym manager, an attrition rate of about 25%, that improves to 3%. Nice odds, eh?

Speaking of unhealthy eating habits, I have to call out Orange Theory on this one. We have not gotten our “welcome to the challenge” email yet, but a friend of a friend is at another gym and got hers, so forwarded it over. Included in the email is a “30-day Meal Plan” which included a grocery list and daily meals and recipes to get you through the challenge. I opened it up and peered through the grocery items and it was right in line with what I was eating, except for the normal “low-fat” garbage and white rice. Nothing I could really bang my head about … until I saw the meal plans. I only made it through the first week before I trashed it. Only one day was over 1,000 calories. All of them were in the 970 range. 970 calories a day for someone working at the intensity they are doing at OFT is ridiculously low, and whoever their dietician is needs to have their license reviewed. The food itself if fine (with the exception of the aforementioned low-fat garbage and the addition of ketchup … along with its added sugar and High Fructose Corn Syrup … to the recipes) but it is entirely too low, not sustainable over a life time, and can (and will) result in injury.

So, here’s the plan, I will continue to eat as I have … whole, real foods, no sugar (unless naturally occurring), and limited grains. I decided to cut out dairy to see how I do with that, but otherwise it is par for the course. I will do my three days a week as required (already have it all scheduled out because … well … I am anal), I will run on Monday and Saturday to keep preparing for upcoming races, and throw in a swim and bike when I can with triathlon season coming to a close. I am not willing to compromise my overall long-term health to win a contest. I now there are people in this that will do it, but my hope that they will learn a hard lesson, hopefully sooner than later, that health and starvation is not something that goes hand in hand.

The plan is also to report here each week on how it is going, along with my measurables so that it keeps me accountable and if so desired, you can keep track also.

Day 1

  • Weight = 266.2 (Same time last year I was 236. I have gained 30 pounds this year. Christ.)
  • Chest = 50″
  • Waist = 49″
  • Hips = 47″
  • Right Thigh = 23″
  • Right Arm = 15.5″

The thighs aren’t budging. They are tight as a drum from all the cycling and doubt that OFT’s intensity will change that. The waist and hips I expect to go down. I was not shocked by these numbers but a bit dismayed since last year I had a 46″ waist. The psoriatic arthritis and training slow down has certainly played a role in this I am sure. It’s time to get back on track, and that is the motivator at the core of this. It’s a way to get my head back in the game.

I am hopeful that it works.

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