Lola

23rd Oct 2009

Question:

I've been trying to push my grade recently and although I'm getting fitter, I am finding it hard to get stronger. I think that if I weighed a bit less I could be stronger. I am not fat by any means but I do not have a skinny build. A lot of my muscle could do with getting a bit stringier/ more toned. I was wondering whether you had any advice on how to loose weight without jeopardising performance? I run twice a week and eat a normal diet but don't really think about it too much. Do you completely control your diet and make sure you eat everything your body needs and no more?

Answer:

Hi Lola, this is an interesting question. I definitely do watch what I eat but not in a manic obsessive way. As I have probably said in the CC before, I love healthy food. If I go out for a meal, I will err towards the healthier option just because it appeals to me. I really don’t think I have drunk a can of ‘pop’ in my adult life and rarely eat junk food. I think this is linked with a desire to be healthy long into old age, so I like to eat food that has a high nutritional value. Although, I’m not compulsive about it, I love chocolate and cake like everybody else and am partial to Ben and Jerry’s ice cream!

I think your age is very important in this issue and unfortunately, I don’t know yours. But I compare myself now to when I was in my twenties and I’m not doing anything radically different (apart from cutting back on the aerobic exercise funnily enough) but my body has subtely changed shape over time. I was always fairly bulky (a relative term, maybe not compared to the normal person) i.e. I have an athletic physique rather than a stick insect one and I think when you’re in your teens and twenties this type of physique can carry some “puppy fat”, which is difficult to shift, depending on your body type and metabolism.

But it’s no use comparing yourself to others, I did and I’d look at how much a certain person ate compared to me and think “my God, if I ate that I’d be a balloon!” but you can’t change your genetics- you just have to work with them. I now understand how my body works and what it responds best to, and that is something you can only discover over time and by experimenting.

I did a lot of that, maybe a bit too much but I guess it’s got me to the comfortable place I am now.

It might be worth you looking a bit closer at the food you eat. There is a surprising amount of hidden fat and sugar in foodstuffs and just by identifying the offending item and replacing it with something just as tasty but lower in fat will help lower your overall fat and calorie intake. Obviously, some fats are good and it’s not healthy to completely omit all fat but it’s worth analysing what you eat and trying to find healthier alternatives.

Eating breakfast is important to help the body get going in the morning and trying not to have too long a period of inactivity. Eg. Sitting in a chair for eight hours straight obviously isn’t going to work well for the body. Just getting up and going out for a walk around will wake the body up and not allow it to get too sluggish. This will help to keep the metabolism going at a healthy steady rate and will make sure the body is working efficiently and utilising what you put in properly rather than storing excess as fat.

Not eating too late is a good tip too. Eating late at night is a sure fire way for the body to store your food as fat. The metabolism has slowed and isn’t working in the same way as it does during the day, so it is likely ingested food (especially if it’s high in fat- ie. The old I’ll just have a few biscuits before I go to bed!) won’t be metabolised efficiently and will be stored as fat.

I hope this helps you to work out how things might be better for you.