During the last year knowing I'm hypothyroid, I mostly observed what my body was doing with calories, as it had been a good while since I'd been formally training, and while I had thought I had all that dialed in perfectly in years past, I wasn't so sure this time around. I am fairly certain that right now I am having a hydration issue (I seem to need a shit ton of fluids to the tune of maybe 2 gallons/day) that will hopefully resolve once we get my TSH level back to a reasonable level.
Meanwhile, I wasn't exactly delighted with my body comp these last few months. On the one hand, I'd had several people tell me how muscular I appear, which I sometimes took as code for fat. On the other hand, it wasn't like I was busting out all of my clothes. I just wasn't my usual lean as shit Ironman self. It's possible that some of this is just aging, particularly being firmly post-menopausal, it's possible that some of this is thyroid malfunction, but it's also possible that some of it is a lack of focus.
But cramming for an Ironman is not the time to do any sort of calorie restriction. Still, I was somewhat careful, despite my joking about candy and such. Once upon a time, I though 116 was plenty small for me, until I got down to 109-110 in 2009 and felt outstanding training and racing at that weight. I've been around 113-116 this year, which isn't a complete tragedy, but still more than I would have liked. From a calorie perspective, I knew I was fueling appropriately for the most part, and when I'm training around 20 hours a week, some candy/Pringles/Cheetos are almost required because they lack bulk, and after all the "regular" food, they are a good way to get in needed extra calories.
While in Cozumel, I looked forward to coming home, training less, and doing a cleanse of sorts on my diet. Well I got the jump start to the cleanse by having a bit of Montezuma's Revenge or whatever it is I had for 3 days. Much as I'd wanted to avoid Gatorade or any engineered nutrition for 2 weeks, Gatorade is the perfect antidote for severe hydration, so in it went and it fixed me up.
I'm not one to go on a 2-week eating binge after an Ironman, because a) I'm hypothyroid and b) I don't want to deal with having to drop 5+ pounds--it's just no fun when I am already tiny and don't need that many calories to maintain my weight, especially with reduced amounts of training. So after I got over the brief illness, I stocked up my fridge with my low training staples--lots of salad ingredients, fruits, veggies, cottage cheese, yogurt.
It's been 2 weeks since IMCOZ and while my weight has changed only maybe 1 lb., my fat distribution is changing already. I am reminded once again how simple it can be to drop weight if I just focus on less starchy (and thus overall as a % of daily calories) carbs. Cut out the pasta and rice and presto. I'm aiming for improved body composition more than weight loss, although mentally, I still have this picture of myself from 4 years ago when I was a lean, mean, ab-tacular fighting machine. I did receive some comments on my abs in Cozumel, but I was like shit they're not all there yet!
I have begun training again, but will only be in the 10-15 hours range for the next 6 weeks. At that weekly volume level, I will stay off rice and pasta at dinner time (I may have some rice at lunch after my second workout of the day), and the leaning out should progress. I will also be upping the intensity of training in a big way, so you put these two things together and voila, I should be good to go! I am already back on the Gatorade during workouts, and Endurox R4 (only 1 scoop) for recovery (plus vitamins).
For my desired weight (110) and 10-15 hours of training per week, my handy carb chart tells me I should be doing about 3.3g carb/lb. of body weight daily (assuming 60% of daily calories from carbs), which is about 1450 calories/day from carbs. Pretty sure I'm doing a bit less than that, and making up the calories with protein. I want to get back in touch with hunger. I'm not starving myself, but it's OK to be a bit hungry at times, and I will let my body catch up to calorie needs as I add training/intensity.
I am always amused at a person who asks me for weight loss advice when they tot out all their alleged good habits like "I eat really healthy and yet I can't lose weight." My first question is, "What did you eat yesterday and about how many calories was it?" Blank stare. Wrong answer. While some people think I count calories daily and track it, I don't, but I can tell you what I ate and about how many calories it was. You learn and eventually it becomes automatic.
I am starting to see some of the definition in my lower abs again, and that means I'm on the right track. Next up I hope to add a bit more strength training to firm things up a bit more. I have no idea whether I can get back those bitchin' abs I used to have, but I am going to give it the old college try. I do know that I am already getting stared at at the Y while I'm on the treadmill, and I don't think it's because I look disgusting. Maybe I will ask someone the next time I'm there!
Here I am in 2009 with my friend Brad: