Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Learning to Eat on A Bicycle



There's a lesson I learned a few years ago that I've only slowly started to practice. When I started going on longer rides I tried jamming protein bars down my gullet to power through. Eventually I learned to drink before I was thirsty and eat before I was hungry. In these days of bike computers and calorie trackers it was easy enough to know that you should take a snack every hour or 500 calories expended whichever came first. In time I also found that rather than try downing an entire power bar it was easier on my stomach and more efficient to just take a bite occasionally. When I grew tired of the bars (no amount of sugar or flavouring can cover the chalky taste of the whey and soya protein) I started packing bite sized sandwiches and snacks and casually snacking throughout the entire 4 or 5 hour ride.

When I started going for lunchtime swims I would eat a late lunch which led to late suppers — so late that they became more like evening snacks. I found I couldn't get much out of a swim if I was starving so I'd have a light snack before I went. Seeing a pattern? Big breakfast, mid-morning snack, late lunch, light supper. I was basically going from having two big meals to four or five smaller ones spread throughout the day. All summer I passed on any kind of bingeing other than Netflix and it showed. Lost weight remained unfound. I was never hungry or bloated. I was certainly eating at odd times that would never be recommended by any diet plan but it worked for me.

It took me years to get to that point but only a matter of days to undo it. When you visit family at the holidays you are pretty much on their schedule. That means you eat big and often. My own home is a desert of sweets and chips but an oasis of fruits, nuts and vegetables. But a holiday home is replete with chocolates, biscuits, chocolate covered biscuits, chips, dips, cheeses, liquors, beer, wine and soft drinks. Now I've gained weight, thrown off my sleep schedule, and experienced, um, gastronomic distress.

Biking has made me more assertive, more confident, taught me how to suffer and surprisingly, how to eat. I learned to eat less and more often and once the holidays are done I've got to get back to eating that way — just like I do on a bike.

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