Race Weight: A Healthy Way to Get There

Let’s face it, maintaining the ideal race weight is one of the toughest things to do on Earth. ironguides Coach Jono Rumbelow decided not only to talk the talk but to walk the walk; it was time to lose a few kilograms. Here are the guidelines he successfully used to do it, and you can too.

I know what you’re thinking, “Coach Jono’s gone off the deep end,” considering all the nutritional articles I have turned out these last few months. Well, that’s what happens when you’re married to a nutritionist.

At the beginning of the year, I took a long hard look at myself and was highly embarrassed; here I was, sitting at 85kg with a little potbelly developing, shouting at athletes in training sessions, when I most probably would be suffering just as much, if not worse.

With this scary thought in my head, I started changing a few of my eating habits—based upon the fact that we are biochemically unique. My goal: to lose the weight I had put on and to keep it off. So far, 4.5kg has come off in 7 weeks and things are going well, and so I decided to speed up the process and started training for a change.

I did not do anything drastic, let’s be very clear on this as that is the worse way to do it but believe you me; the changes I made have given me more energy. Energy I need with my son almost 6 and my twin girls now 2 ½, and all three of them starting to run around like speed freaks.

Two of my athletes, Emile Nel and Colin Stephen, used the same principles when they started training for Ironman 70.3 South Africa in the middle of October. Both lost in excess of 15kg and both have kept the weight off. Here’s what helped Emile, Colin and me; I’m sure these guidelines will help you obtain that elusive Race Weight Goal.

1) A diet only works for as long as you follow it:
How many times have you started a diet, lost a few kilograms, only to put it back on (sometimes with interest) when you resumed eating normally, like you used to?

In order to keep off the weight that you lost, you need to carry on eating the way the diet had you eating. The problem is that if you were following a fad diet, you’re going to “crash and burn” pretty soon. To be healthy, we need to include all major food groups in our diet. A diet that cuts out whole food groups or replaces a meal with a shake is not healthy in the long run.

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you need to find a way of eating that works for you as an individual and you need to adopt this new eating plan for life.

2) We are biochemically unique:
Like our personalities, we are individuals in the way our bodies metabolize food. This means that a diet that works for your friend may not necessarily work for you. It is important that we learn which foods agree with us, and which don’t. One type of food that most of us can do without is commercially baked bread. For most of us, cutting out bread and related products will help us to lose weight without changing anything else.

Bread nowadays is a mass-manufactured refined carbohydrate. Your body will convert it to sugar, which will give your blood sugar levels an instant spike, but after an hour or two you will be hungry again and start craving something to give you another spike in energy. What’s more, the yeast causes bloating and can lead to other health problems.

3) Include animal and vegetarian protein in your diet:
Animal protein contains essential vitamins and minerals and gives your brain power. It keeps you full for longer than carbs do, but it does not contain fibre so it does not move through your colon as easily as vegetarian protein like legumes and pulses. Including either animal or vegetarian protein in every meal will help keep you on top of things during your busy day.

4) You need good fat and bad fat:
True or False? You will lose weight faster if you cut out fat altogether.  False.
Fats are essential for your body to function properly. Good fats like avocado, pear, raw olive oil and nuts actually break down the bad cholesterol in your body.

Your body needs a little bit of bad fat everyday as it helps to control blood sugar levels. For example, a teaspoon of farm butter on your poached eggs for breakfast will provide you with enough energy to keep you going until lunch time. What’s more, the lecithin that naturally occurs in runny egg yolks actually breaks down the bad cholesterol in your body.

5) Planning & preparation is the key to success:
Draw up a weekly menu and take it with you when you shop so that you know what to buy. Never go shopping on an empty stomach—you will be tempted to buy all the wrong things. And avoid the sweets isle. Keep fresh fruit & veg ready prepared in the fridge so that’s the first thing you see when you open the fridge.

The way you prepare your food can make or break your weight loss efforts and affect your overall health and the health of your family.  Always cook from scratch. Start creating some new good habits by baking/roasting food in the oven or on the BBQ.

Don’t use cooking oil, but marinade food in your own home-made marinades (those bought in the shop are full of fat, preservatives and sugar). You can use lemon juice, garlic, herbs, honey, olive oil, vinegar, wine, yogurt/buttermilk, chilli and other spices. Remember to only add salt just before you eat the food.

Don’t buy prepared foods—these are laden with preservatives, saturated fat, sugar and salt and genetically modified ingredients which damage your cells.

6) Don’t starve yourself:
It is vitally important to keep your metabolism going—so eat regularly. Try to eat all meals and snacks at the same time each day. Eat before you get hungry. This ensures energy levels are constant and avoids sugar cravings. Also, eat little and often, rather than have huge meals.

7) Avoid carbs and starch at supper time:
This has made a big difference to my weight. Don’t eat carbs and starches at night unless you have just exercised. Carbs give you energy and most of us wind down in the evenings after dinner so you do not need the energy. Remember that your body will store and convert to fat the kilojoules that you don’t use up. Pour dinner plate high with non-starchy veg and have a palm size portion of lean protein. No heavy sauces. Have potatoes at lunch time. Keep your evening meal light.

8) Artificial sweeteners are bad for you:
It is more harmful to consume artificial sweeteners and diet products than it is to consume those that contain sugar. Instead of buying a diet yogurt, buy plain fat free yogurt and add fresh fruit and honey. Better yet, you can replace sugar with Xylitol or Stevia. These are natural, healthy alternatives to cane sugar that have health benefits. Xylitol is good for your teeth and it is safe for children. These natural sugars won’t spike your blood sugar like cane sugar and can keep diabetes away. They will also prevent your children from becoming hyperactive. This is so important. Why sacrifice your health in order to be thin?

Last but not least, please read the labels before you buy anything. If you can’t pronounce an ingredient in the product … don’t buy it. Chances are it will be more harmful than good.

Jono Rumbelow, Certified ironguides Method Coach – South Africa
* * * Your best is our business.™ * * *



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A triathlete making a comeback and a true blue Scorpio. That sums it up quite nicely :)

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