How I got in shape by Mountain Biking
Over the last six months, I have been able to lose over 10 kg / 22 pounds and significantly improve my stamina and endurance. It wasn’t easy and it definitely required hard work, but after going through with it I can say it was well worth it. Here are the steps that I took to get in shape.
As long as I can remember I have always been out of shape. I’m around 178 cm / 5 ft 10 in tall. I used to weight around 75-80 kg /165-175 pounds for years which is definitely not obese by any means, but not fit either. I disliked the way it made me feel and how I looked even though my BMI was just under 25, so still in “normal” weight category. For those unfamiliar with BMI, short for Body Mass Index, BMI between 18.5 to 25 is considered normal weight and anything outside of that is either overweight or underweight. If you want to calculate your own BMI there are tons of BMI calculators available online.
Losing weight and getting is shape is going to be tough and you need to be all in for it. Otherwise, it’s just too easy to lose motivation and give up on it. It all comes down to being honest with yourself. There’s no point in cheating, as you are only cheating yourself, and you need to be honest with yourself when setting your expectations for it. How quickly do you want the change to happen and how much are you willing to work for it? Do not set your expectations too high, since no matter how hard you work for it the change isn’t going to happen overnight, so don’t get discouraged by that.
Personally, I chose to take it slow and not to make it too demanding from the beginning. This definitely helped me to stay motivated when the whole process didn’t feel like such a chore. I was okay with the fact that my way would be less effective and require more time, but on the other hand is was far less demanding.
The first and foremost thing to change when losing weight is diet. No matter how much you exercise you are not going to get any results if you are overeating. Nowadays it’s really easy to find resources online for calculating your daily caloric needs and figuring out how many calories you are getting from your current diet. With all the numbers on the table, it’s just a matter of deciding where to cut and how much. I recommend keeping your diet reasonable since a strict diet will be really tough to follow in the long run, just my two cents.
I have always been a fairly healthy eater per se, but I also had a soft spot for sweets, candies, and sugary drinks, like don’t we all? After using the caloric calculators I decided to drop candies altogether. In the end, I only ended up being on a strict diet for two months before I started giving myself some slack here and there. My goal was to keep up with the diet and make it a habit, rather than just get in shape as quickly as possible. Over half a year later it has turned into a lifestyle rather than just a rule to follow. My diet is quite healthy nowadays and I haven’t struggled with it for a long time. I still snack sometimes and that’s okay if you keep it reasonable.
Riding lots and longer
If you make mountain biking your main form of exercise you obviously need to do it lots. Start going for longer rides more frequently and you’ll burn calories while out there, hopefully having fun. Making it a habit will help soldier on when the weather is crummy and you just don’t feel like it. However, the key is to be reasonable with it. If it turns into a chore it’s really easy to lose motivation on it, so don’t be too strict about it.
Personally, I have done more mountain biking this year than ever before in my life combined. A great help was to get a heart rate monitor with GPS tracking in it. Getting all that data from your rides really encouraged me to push my limits, because it’s always nice to get that highest average speed/longest distance/highest average heart rate etc notification on the screen after a ride.
There are times when you just can’t go mountain biking for whatever reason. When this happens don’t just sit around but do some cross-training instead to get your daily dose of exercise! Can be any physical activity, running, walking, hiking, playing sports, hitting the gym, home workout, for example. Cross-training will also be very beneficial for you to improve as a mountain biker since it allows you to train different muscle groups and become a stronger rider overall.
Since I have great trail network near my home I ended up going running and doing some home workout regularly. Both of which really improved my riding too. To give you an example, after doing regular home workout up to five times a week since January my hands and arms feel a lot less beat up after every ride.
One way to boost your motivation is investing in good gear and equipment. Mountain biking and exercising, in general, will sometimes be uncomfortable so having good gear and equipment won’t certainly hurt. On the other hand, you absolutely don’t need to have the fanciest and most expensive gear or equipment, lots of good budget options out there. Just make sure you have got a good helmet before buying anything else.
When starting out I already had the basic gear, but I ended up getting more cycling specific clothing and eventually upgrading my bike as you can see in the project section. As I was becoming a better and stronger rider it was rewarding to bolt a new shiny part on my bike, it’s kind of like giving yourself a treat.
In June 2017 my weight has dropped down to around 65-66 kilograms / ~145 pounds. I’m not muscular by any means, but my stamina and endurance have improved drastically from what it used to be. The distance that I can ride or run in one go has been doubled if not even tripled and the change isn’t only noticeable while exercising. In fact, everyday errands feel a lot less effortless and I feel much more energetic overall. Getting in shape was definitely the best decision I have ever made and I’m not planning on stopping. Quite the opposite, I want to get in even better shape and maybe participate in a race one day?
Hopefully, this inspires someone and encourages them to keep working on themselves. If you have got anything to say about the topic or want to ask me a question don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me directly! Any feedback is highly appreciated.
-14th of June, 2017