Archive for the 'Diet' Category

Computer says nao…

Or rather, body says nao. My knee says no biking, my hips say no running and my lower back says no body weight strength training… So what else is there?
In other words, Hell Week 2 was hell, but not as intended. Most of my time has been spent sitting around feeling sorry for myself. It was pretty damn bad.

But today commences Hell Week 3. And with fasting, walking and preparing for the trip, it should get me to the neighborhood of where I wanted to go…

I hope all the stuff that needs to be got, fixed and made ready, time will pass more quickly than it did during the original Hell Week. Also the itch in my left knee suggests that the healing is continuing, and I hope it will not interfere with my climbing. But if it does, I will make damn sure I enjoy my time in  warm and bright land as darkness descends upon the home country.

Which brings me to my last point of the day. I have been feeling the effects of the traditional autumn funk slowly creeping in all ready. I am determined to avoid the big slump this year, but I realize it will be hard. I think a 20 day “pick me up” in Thailand will help a lot, but I will have to remain strong when I return. So I have made arrangements to start seeing a personal coach when I get back. I hope that together we can keep my eye on the ball and maintain good form through the winter. But it all remains to be seen.


Hell Week over


Yesterday I had 2 good sessions with 4 and 3 passes of my favourite hill. The second session was supposed to be 4 passes as well, but I was a little late getting out and wanted to make it back for the United game. That’s my story and I am sticking to it. I felt pretty nauseous after the game and decided to leave well enough alone and rest the remaining hours of Hell Week.

This morning I walked to the store and bought eggs, bacon, bread, milk, orange juice, a potato and an onion. Then went home and made the best damn breakfast I have had since Smith Rock and the Sunspot. Home made hash browns with golden onions, crispy bacon and eggs over easy with toast and real butter. Yummy! But too much and now I have a tummy ache… I think today will be recovery day, before I start the hard training tomorrow.

The plan for this week is as follows.

Monday: Rest and food.

Tuesday: 3 laps of my favourite hill before breakfast, then food and rest before heading into town for bouldering.

Wednesday: One hour bikeride before breakfast (so long as my knee cooperates), then food and rest before 3 laps of the hill and antagonist workout.

Thursday: One hour bikeride before breakfast (can be substituted by 3 laps of the hill), food and rest before bouldering.

Friday: One hour bikeride before breakfast (can be substituted by 3 laps of the hill), then food and rest before 3 laps of the hill and antagonist workout.

Saturday: One hour bikeride before breakfast (can be substituted by 3 laps of the hill), food and rest before bouldering.

Sunday: One hour bikeride before breakfast (can be substituted by 3 laps of the hill), then food and rest before 3 laps of the hill and antagonist workout.

Then Hell Week 2 transitions into Hell Week 3. Another week of fasting before I hop a plane to Thailand. Can’t wait…


The end is nigh

Completely thought I had made a post yesterday, but today it seems I did not. What can you do?
Yesterday was better. I walked a bit, 9,5 km to be precise. It felt good. There is a nice 800 meter hill nearby, and I did 3 passes up and down over 2 sessions, and felt no badness in my knee.

Today was better. I walked a bit, 12,8 km to be precise. It felt good. Did 6 passes of the hill over 2 sessions, and felt no badness in my knee. As close to happy as I think it is possible to get while depriving one self of basically everything but water…

I will try to make 3 more passes in a third session around 6 o’clock. If it feels as good as the first two sessions, I will test the body even more with 3 x 4 passes tomorrow. It does feel like I am approaching the limits of what I can do while on this diet, so I will see how it goes. But to be able to walk a fair bit down hill, and push pretty hard on the way up without discomfort in my knee is very good news. And it hopefully means I can work hard next week, and have a decent activity level in the last week of the program.

Two interesting phenomenon discovered as well. Number one is the fact that I feel perfectly fine in the morning, and completely shit at night. I anticipated feeling like shit, so that is no surprise, but feeling perfectly normal in the mornings this far into Hell Week is surprising. It seems my body refuel the glycogen stores from my fat reserves during the night, which means my energy levels are actually normal in the mornings. Then they are gradually depleted during the day, and when empty somewhere around 5-6ish (based on how I feel) leave me feeling like shit all evening.

Number two is experienced when walking. On my passes down hill I feel faint and weak. But when I up the intensity and my pulse passes 140 bpm or so, I suddenly feel fine. And so the hard uphill passes feel better than the easy downhill passes. Odd? I think so. But certainly not complaining. Oh no!

And that concludes the blogging for today.

Hell Week half gone

I said yesterday that I had found my groove. This was not entirely true. Not that I lied. I would never lie to you. At least not about his. No. Surely not?

Turns out that as long as I am home, or ambling along on my walks I am fine. Or as fine as you can be when it feels like you are on a hunger strike to free Palestine or a similar worthy cause. But when I set foot in the shops, strange things happen. Today I went to get more juice supplies, and as soon as I walked through the doors candy bars started floating around in my head, and coke commercials started running in front of my eyes. And as I walked past the shelf with Guinness and Kilkenny I could swear I hard a voice with a Brit accent say: “Two pints of bitter and a packet of crisps, please”.

In the end I stayed mostly strong and ended up with only a small flask of banana, passionfruit and mango smoothie in addition to my planned supplies. At 120 calories, I would not count that as a major disaster. But it was not terribly good either, which might make my next visit even harder…

I also got a comment saying I should eat and boulder instead of this fasting crap. I had hoped to explain it well enough, but maybe I have taken a shortcut or two in that department? Or maybe I just assume everyone will see the wisdom of my choice and agree with me? Upon thinking about it I realize that even though I feel I have sound arguments for doing what I am doing, there still might be people who disagree with it. And that is certainly fine. In fact, I invite it.

In case I have not thoroughly explained the situation, the basis of my decision, and the rationale behind the process I will explain it here as well as I can.

I am currently somewhere between 10-15 kilo overweight. It is hard to say exactly, because I started gaining weight (aka getting fat) when I was 20. At that time I weighed somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 kilo. I have obviously matured, and it is probable that my body (sans fat) is now closer to 70 kilo. But I am still a skinny little bastard underneath the fat so I really doubt my “normal” weight is above 70 kilo. And so it stands to reason that at my current weight of about 82 kilo, I am ca 12 kilo overweight. Anyone climbing will know that such a burden makes it hard to scale steep terrain.

All my experiences show that when I go through a period of not climbing, but dropping weight, I climb harder grades upon my return to climbing, than I did when I left off (typically an off season process). It is also generally accepted in training circles that if you are overweight, the single quickest way to increase strength relative to your body weight (as in ability to do push ups, pull ups, etc) is to lose weight because it is a much quicker process than increasing muscle mass and strength.

Now, prolonged dieting will reduce muscle mass as the body uses the protein in the muscles for fuel. This is why I have generally stuck to the “one kilo per week” approach. It is considered to be healthy, and has allowed me to train hard at the same time, both cardio and strength. For various reasons, I have not followed my traditional regimen this spring (post trip depression and what have you), and so I am behind schedule. There is also a trip to Thailand coming up in 2,5 weeks. This has made me decide to jump-start the process of achieving “match weight”. Originally planned for completion around christmas, with a standard “one kilo per week” schedule. The goal is still to get there by christmas, but I am attempting to increase my relative strength as much as possible before my trip.

One week of fasting will, according to the literature I have read, not compromise my muscles in any significant way, while I can reduce my body weight significantly. The only worry in this set up, is that only one week between the fasting will not be enough to reverse the “famine response” and make the body store most of the energy I consume that week as new fat, and continue to work with a low metabolism during my second week of fasting. I will monitor this closely, of course, and if it proves to be the case I will reduce energy intake in the second week, and abort the next fasting cycle.

Of course my knee trouble greatly affects the benefits of my fasting week, and will limit my ability to train as hard as required in the following cycle. It remains to see how this affects the net result, but I am still hoping for a significant reduction in body fat.

I will also put it to you, that if you are thin, and has always been thin, you are not really in a position to understand my situation. A situation where my use of good technique is limited because I simply do not have the strength to hold on while flagging, performing a drop knee, etc. And yes, regular bouldering would increase my strength. I do not at all dispute this. My point is simply, in terms of speed and “value for money”, reducing my body weight will give me greater gains than any other approach to this issue. In addition, I will be certain to avoid any tendon issues arising from a sudden burst of intense bouldering before the trip. I will be healthy and able to climb, which is also an important consideration, as I have bad experiences with sudden hard bouts of bouldering. One 3 week period resulted in me being not only out of climbing for 6 months, but also unable to do my job for a number of weeks.

All in all, this approach is, in my mind, the best choice for me. I do not recommend it to anyone else, especially not if your level of body fat is within a range which is considered healthy in the first place (mine is not).

And you will all see a tremendous shift in focus on my part when I reach a body weight where excess baggage is no longer an issue. At that point, I will surrender completely to the wisdom that “the best training for climbing, is climbing”.

Worried Knee Blues and In The Groove

Went for a little walk this morning, and as long as the ground is flat or uphill I feel no discomfort in my knee. But as soon as I start walking downhill the discomfort returns. Fortunately, there was no actual pain today. When I started feeling the pain I returned home to avoid upsetting my knee any more than absolutely necessary. Last night I felt an itch inside my knee, and while it was a little uncomfortable to have an itch I can’t scratch, I take it as a sign that whatever is wrong in there is healing up. And that is welcome news indeed.


As for my diet it is going along splendidly. I have hit my stride, and even though it is tricky to go to the store without drooling all over the snack shelves, I am finding it easier while at home. My energy levels have been decent enough, and without my knee problem, I would be exercising. So I think it is safe to say I have gotten into the groove of Hell Week. After 2 days of only consuming liquids I believe my intestines are now just about empty, so it should be possible to track my weight loss from here on in. Hoping for good results, but will can only wait and see. Without exercise it will be less effective than planned, but hopefully I will still be able to shed 6-7 kilo in the 3 weeks of Hell.  That would amount to almost a 10% reduction in body mass and should give me significant relative strength gains.

Tomorrow the plan is to go for a walk on level ground to keep my knees moving and burn a little extra energy.

Sometimes life is impractical

I will begin at the beginning. Well, maybe not the beginning. I feel it is all ready covered adequately in books such as How Babies Are Made by Steven Schepp and A Brief History Of Time by Steven Hawking respectively. So I will begin on monday morning if this current week.

I woke up with a “brilliant” plan. Not a vague idea, but a fully formed, detailed plan. The plan was about how I would make sure I am able to climb at my best when I travel to Railay in Thailand in 3 weeks time. I have been feeling heavy and soft lately, and because there is not much to be done in terms of objective strength gains in only 3 weeks, and I just do not have the opportunity to climb very much in this period leading up to the trip, the obvious conclusion is that I will reduce my body weight, and through that increase my relative strength. Which is what it is all about anyway (technique is obviously completely over rated, and everyone knows this… ).

So the plan was to shock my body into shedding the maximum weight possible in 3 weeks. The plan goes like this.

Week 1

Consume only 900-ish calories per day while maintaining 2-3 hours of moderate activity, such as biking and walking.

Breakfast: Fresh, locally produced (in my kitchen) vegetable juice

Second breakfast: Diet shake

Brunch: Protein shake

Lunch: Diet shake

Dinner: Vegetable juice

Supper: Diet shake

I call this Hell Week.

Now, as everyone knows (right?) the body adapts fairly rapidly. So after a week the little men shoveling fat into the fire down below would get concerned about diminishing reserves and put in place a program to conserve fuel. Aka the famine response where the body basically shuts down the metabolism. To counter this threat to my weight loss I devised a week where I will tell the little men that the previous week was just a coincident and the furnaces should be turned back up to maximum heat.

The way I do this is to combine a high energy diet, somewhere in the range of 3000-3500 calories a day, with lots of high intensity training. Thereby preventing the body from storing this energy as fat in preparation for another famine it has probably guessed is right around the corner. The high intensity training I had in mind is long distance biking with fairly high intensity (3 hours a day), bouldering in the gym and antagonist training.

I call this Hell Week 2.

Hell Week 2 is of course followed by a week identical to the original Hell Week. I call this Hell Week 3.

The goal with this program is to shed somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 kilos of fat over the 3 week duration. Some of this plan is based soundly on nutritional and training theories, but some parts are speculation on my part. The processes are obviously well known, but I am not certain that Hell Week 2 is long enough (one week) to reverse the famine response and pave the way for another week of rapid weight loss in Hell Week 3.

Time will tell.

Anyways, I had this big spiel in my head about the confusion caused by writing this post yesterday in the past tense for publication today. Something about a sensation similar to the one you would have if you stepped through a wormhole tomorrow and was returned to today, but wrote about today as if it was still tomorrow, making today the past… Or a kind of Groundhog Day process where you live a day, then you are returned to yesterday, but then it is the day after tomorrow, before you are returned to today, before living the day after the day after tomorrow and being returned to tomorrow. It is all very confusing stuff, and completely redundant, because I could not actually be bothered to write this post yesterday. I just thought about writing it. So when I talk about yesterday as the past, it is because yesterday is in fact, in the past. Savvy?

And that concludes just about everything I thought about writing yesterday, but actually wrote today. All except this: I completed day one of Hell Week without significant hitch. I rode my bike for one hour  in the morning and felt a slight discomfort in my left knee before I got warmed up. Later I went for a 75 minute walk and again felt discomfort in my left knee when descending until I was warmed up. And followed the diet to a T.

Today I went out for my morning bike ride, and I no longer felt discomfort in my left knee. I felt outright pain and had to terminate the activity. And now I am sitting here, writing this post and wondering how the hell I am going to maintain a decent level of physical activity without bothering my left knee. Because there is just no way I am jeopardizing my climbing in Thailand by pushing through the pain right now. Any suggestions are welcome. I am considering swimming, but the damn pools are so far away. Hassle. But maybe I have to accept a certain amount of hassle to complete my program. But I am naturally worried about Hell Week 2, because the increased intensity will put an even greater strain on my knee. It seems my last hike in the north was, what is the phrase I am looking for… Oh yeah, too damn much. I am just no good at pacing myself…

That concludes the blogging for today. Thanks for grinding through my ramblings, I know it must have been a rather harrowing experience.