Back in the saddle again...

matthew's picture

Back in 2009, I reached an all-time low weight and body fat unseen since I was 19 years old: 200 pounds, with between 15%-20% body fat. From late 2009 to October 2011, I totally slacked off on my eating plan & exercise regimen. This led to regaining basically all of the 70 pounds I had lost. I was appalled at the family photos of our trip to Disneyland in October of 2011, and although I couldn't get over my fear of what the number on the scale would be, I began quietly scaling back my eating, did some bicycling to & from work, and began going back to the gym on occasion.

In addition, this past year I had a wonderful season of bicycling that unfortunately ended with a bicycle accident & injury. I went from almost zero endurance experience to 12-15 hours/week of bicycling, rode my first Century ride on August 25 (the FrontRunner Century), and lost quite a bit of weight. I dropped from a high weight of probably around 270-ish October 2012 (those Disneyland pictures looked AWFULLY fat!), down to 250-ish by January, to 230-ish as I peaked for my Century. I broke my clavicle during a group ride on September 2, 2013, and today finally stepped on the scale to see the damage: back to almost 238 pounds. It's time to get blogging and have some accountability as I lose it again!


I took my measurements today, and here's where I stand:

  • 237.8 pounds
  • 29% body fat
  • 169 pounds "lean mass" (includes water weight, skeletal mass, muscle, organs, etc.)


  • I'm currently not able to cycle at my August intensity for more than about 30 minutes. I'm going to re-do my baselines with the expectation that I'm probably at least 10% off my 172-watt peak fitness back in August.
  • My lifts are very poor since my collarbone is still broken; I can't do any upper-body lifts without the assistance of some sort of machine. I can still back-squat reasonably well, however: 90 pounds for 20 reps.
  • My swimming is abominable. Any progress at all would be great.
  • My run is better than it was when I was an absolute newbie, but not very good: I average about 1:20 per .091mi lap at the gym, and can push it to about 1:00 per lap (an 11-minute mile) but not for very long. My current 5K time is about 48 minutes, including one lap of walking for each 3 laps jogging.


  1. Take my 29% body fat down to ~24% body fat over the next 7 weeks.
  2. Improve my Functional Threshold Power on the bike to the levels at which I was functioning in August. I was at 172 watts FTP back in August; 200+ is where I'll need to be to have a hope of keeping up with the fast group ride on Sundays.
  3. Continue physical therapy through weight lifting with a focus on steady, incremental improvements.
  4. Improve my swim to 1600 meters without stopping.
  5. Improve my 5k run time from 45 minutes to 40 minutes.
  6. Prepare for my first triathlon next summer.

    How I'm going getting there

  1. Track everything I eat in's Daily Plate diligently. Weigh myself and check my body fat every Monday morning before breakfast to verify my progress. Reduce carbohydrates substantially at the start, while maintaining protein intake of about 150g per day and fat at sufficient levels to ensure I eat just under 2000 calories/day. This strategy has proven successful in the past, and I'm returning to that plan. I found that increasing my calorie intake on "cardio days" was counter-productive to my fat-loss goals; I'm going to aim for steady caloric intake, and cardio burn will just be extra fat loss. After my two-week low-carb induction, though, losing more than 3 pounds per week is not something I'm willing to do (the hit on lean mass is too great) and I'll continually adjust my intake to stay around 2 pounds/week of fat loss. When I was in maintenance near 200 pounds three years ago, a daily carbohydrate intake of 60g-100g seemed sufficient, but my cardio efforts were nowhere near as frequent as they are now.
  2. Follow's Base 1 cycling program on the trainer or rollers at least twice a week, with light commuting to and from work.
  3. Lift twice a week, with a focus on core & full-body work with free weights. I should be able to do most of this at home with my barbell. I don't expect to reach the 300lb+ deadlifts and 200lb+ squats I was pushing three years ago on a dedicated 6-day-split program, but I do expect to continue improving week-by-week.
  4. Swim twice a week for an hour after breakfast before work. Focus on drills, relaxation, and a smooth, long stroke. This is going to be a challenge, for sure, as I'm terrible at swimming despite Total Immersion and swim team participation. Just not relaxed enough in the water; I need to spend a lot more time in the pool to get to that point.
  5. Run at least twice a week for an hour at a time.
  6. Brick a swim/run, swim/bike, bike/run, or swim/bike/run session for 2-3 hours every Sunday.

One of my medium-term goals is to complete the J.L. Sorenson Indoor Triathlon on January 19, 2013. I think with this schedule, that's totally achievable.

Long-term, I want to be 180 pounds by my fortieth birthday on April 27, 2013. I can't imagine a better present to myself than to be a very healthy weight, low-body fat, and ready for the 2013 cycling and triathlon season!