My Turning Point
I never intended to get fat! Like many other people, I was a high school and college athlete, and never even thought about being overweight. But somehow, I guess, over the years I just got busy with work and my family and year after year gradually put on a few extra pounds.
Well, those few extra pounds over the years ended up creating a 6'2" thirty-four year old pushing close to 270 pounds. My cholesterol was high, my triclecrides were high, my blood pressure was also high, all this at age thirty-four. I was on a direct course for developing diabetes, increased risk of heart disease, increased risk of cancer, and a ton of other diseases related to obesity.
It gets worse. Did I mention I am a doctor, a sports chiropractor to be exact? I know this stuff. I know the health risks associated with obesity. Everyday I talked with my patients about living a healthy lifestyle, and yet I myself was not managing my own weight and health. Wait, it gets better.
Did I mention that my office is located inside a health club? Day after day, year after year, pound after pound, my bouncing belly walked into the health club and into my office. Unfortunately, like many other doctors out there, I was not practicing what I was preaching.
Don't get me wrong; I was not a complete slacker. I did a little running, lifted a few weights, I fooled myself into thinking that counted as exercise. Wearing lose fitting clothes, I walked around the gym like a has-been football player. I'm not fat, I'm big, I told myself.
Well, I live in sunny Arizona, land of the endless summer. Sooner or later you have to go to the lake, the water park, or you are invited to a cookout and pool party. That is when all my excuses caught up to me.
My kids wanted me to play with them at the pool party, they wanted me to go down the water slide with them, and I made up excuses because I did not want to be seen in a swimsuit. They did not understand. They did not see that I was embarrassed, they just wanted to play with their dad, they did not care that I was fat.
So, despite knowing the health risks associated with being overweight, it was the feeling of low self-esteem and embarrassment that finally drove me to action.
Where To Start?
There I was, a doctor, ready to get the weight off. Obviously the little running I was doing, the little weight lifting I was doing, was not cutting it. Even though I knew there were no quick fixes, I hate to admit it, I tried some of those quick fix gimmick supplements. That was just a waste of money.
Then I tried a bunch of the fad diets out there. I bought a bunch of books from all the "weight loss experts". I would lose a little weight. However, I could never stick with the diet for any length of time, and when I went off the diet I would gain the weight right back.
So, then tried working my butt off in the gym. I ran almost every day. That got real boring, and I found that running everyday is not the best thing to do when you weigh close to 270 pounds.
As a result of my workouts, I spent many hours in my office with electric muscle stimulation on my knees to help reduce the pain and inflammation from all the pounding on my joints. Exercise had to be a part of any weight loss program, I knew that, but how could I exercise when I was in pain all the time?
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It was looking like I needed some help, so I hired a personal trainer. When I showed up for my sessions he would ask me what I wanted to do for a workout. I remember thinking, shouldn't you have a detailed plan for me?
It was obvious that he was making up my program on the fly with no planning, no direction. This guy was good for counting repetitions, but that was basically it. Looking back on it now, I never really checked his qualifications, or checked with past clients. That would have saved me a ton of time and money.
There I was again, still no direction, no focus, no drive, nothing to guide me. Frustrated about not getting any results and what to do, I thought I was just going to have to accept that I was overweight and deal with it. I gave it a real effort and it did not work.
Tri For Life
During all of this, the chiropractor that I bought my office from, Dr. Dean Micalizio was competing in triathlons. He would mention how he did in the swim or the bike part of the race. Honestly, I did not know much about triathlons.
He also mentioned that he was beginning a weight loss program at his office, which was based on his experience with triathlon training. He called the program Tri for Life. Then, he told me he was starting to get some pretty good results. I decided to go over to his office and check it out.
He explained to me how triathlons involved swimming, cycling, then running, and that this was the foundation for his program. He also explained to me that he was having all of his patients wear heart rate monitors to record the exercise session for review. Using heart rate monitors was something Dr. Micalizio used to monitor his triathlon training.
I really wanted to give the program a try, but I lived too far from his office to come in on a regular basis. So I told Dr. Micalizio I would give it a try on my own. I remember the smerk on face as I left the room. Since he saw me try many different programs over the years, with no results, I knew he thought that without the supervision and support, I would likely fail.
A weight loss program based on triathlon training, really interested me. So I began researching the sport on the Internet. The more I read about triathlons and triathlon training, the more sense it made to me as a way to help me lose weight. If you are going to do an event that involves swimming, cycling, and running you obviously are going to have to train that way.
The idea about jumping into the pool for an exercise swim was not something I was looking forward to, and the last thing I wanted to do was to put on a swimsuit and workout. Then I remembered how painful my knees were from running around, and swimming would be easier on my joints.
I also began reading about using heart rate monitors and the affects of exercising at different heart rates. Many of the authors of the books on heart zone training were triathletes themselves, and they gave numerous examples on how using heart zone training you can track your progress and maximize your exercise program.
The more I searched the triathlon Internet sites, the more I became interested in the sport. The people who competed in triathlons looked really fit, it was inspiring. That is when I decided to take my commitment to losing weight to the next level.
Weighing close to 270 pounds, I signed up for my first triathlon. Five months away, I was going to do a sprint race, which was a 500m swim, a 15-mile bike, then and a 3-mile run. This was a much shorter distance than many triathlon races, however at the time I could not do even one of the events let alone all of them back-to-back.
So there I was, I had five months before the race. I was not going to back out of it so I was ready to start training.
Using a combination of what I learned about heart zone training and from the triathlon Internet sites, I started my program. I started out nice and easy, a 10 minute run then a 10 minute bike, and I was supposed to keep my exercising heart rated better 65 and 75% of my maximum heart rate. This was not too hard. In fact, I was running at a slower pace than what I had been running before.
Simple Target Heart Rate Calculator
Using the 208 - (0.7 x age in years) formula.
So, in practicality, what does this mean? The difference is the greatest for
young and elderly people; people in the mid-forties will get the same
numbers as with the old formula. However, if you're 20, your max heart rate
is 194 instead of 200, meaning 70% of max = 136 instead of 140 and 85% of
max = 165 instead of 170. That makes a difference when you're setting up the
treadmill next time you're doing cardio. For a 65-year old, the max heart
rate is 163 instead of 153, with 70% of max = 114 instead of 107 and 85% of
max = 139 instead of 130.
Be sure to check out Heart Matters: Are You Training Your Heart?
So, I strapped on the heart rate monitor and went for a run at the speed I did before, my heart rate skyrocketed! Near 90% of my maximum heart rate, this was not a good thing. This was not even a full sprint, just a nice jog.
This actually meant that I was in really bad cardiovascular shape. That simple activity should not result in such a high heart rate, and in fact it could be dangerous. A similar thing happens every year after a big snowfall. An overweight out of shape guy, who never exercises decides to go out and shovel all that heavy snow off his driveway. The activity is such a stress on his cardiovascular system that he suffers a heart attack, not good.
Therefore, the use of the heart rate monitor became a very useful tool. It kept me from working too hard or too easy. Before I began using the heart rate monitor I counted walking the dog as exercise. However, it was able to show me that I was not getting my heart rate high enough to result in any real weight loss benefit.
So basically, I was just walking the dog. The heart rate monitor I was using, the Polar 610, also came with software. I was able to download all of my exercise sessions into a computer. Then I was able to objectively document my exercise sessions.
The software was able to track my calories burned during exercise, my average heart rate, hours spent exercising per week, and much more. After every exercise session actually looked forward to downloading my session to see how I did.
Since I was working towards a triathlon, my exercise sessions alternated between swimming, cycling, and running. I also did about an hour of weight training a week. This really added a variety to the exercise program, and it never got boring.
One day I would just bike, then next maybe run 10 minutes, do a weight session, then bike for 25 minutes.
Then the next day I would just swim.
The next day I would swim then follow it up with a run. My knees were holding up very well with little, if any pain. It was looking like I was not going to be able to use the "knee pain" excuse to stop exercising. At the same time I started eating better, no real diet, just common sense stuff, avoiding the sugars and white breads.
After a few weeks I began noticing some changes, more energy, sleeping better, less stress, and yes, losing some weight. When I started seeing results it caused me to watch what I was eating even more. Another thing I also noticed was that it was getting harder to get to my target heart rate, whether it was 70%, 80%, whatever percent, I had to exercise harder.
This was actually a good thing. This meant that my cardiovascular system was getting in better shape, that I was getting healthier.
Since I was getting in better shape, the heart zones that I was supposed to exercise in began to change. I began exercising at different heart rates One day I would run at 70% of my maximum heart rate for 10 minutes, then bike at 80% of my maximum heart rate for 10 minutes, then go back to running at 70% for another 10 minutes.
The next day I would just bike for 40 min. But I would again exercise at different heart rates, 10 min at 70%, and 5 minutes at 80%, and 10 minutes at 75 %, and 5 minutes at 80%, and then 10 minutes at 70%.
This was a fun way to exercise and I actually began to look forward to exercising, the whole process was less boring. Another thing, I really began looking forward to was my morning run. It started out as a walk, then a light jog, then and a nice run. It felt fantastic going into work knowing that I already did something healthy for my body.
My First Triathalon
A month later there I was, ready for my first triathlon. It had been five months since signing up for the race. I was forty pounds lighter, and scared to death. I thought about backing out, but my wife and kids were there to give me support.
The swim came first, I did the sidestroke, the backstroke, I even floated on my back to try and catch my breath. Somehow I made it. As I walked from the water to my bike, I staggered around as if I had been swimming in a lake of liquor. I had swallowed a lot of water, and I was so dizzy I could barely walk.
When I got on my bike I honestly thought I was going to do pretty well in this event. I found out that there is a big difference between riding a road bike and riding a mountain bike, I did not pass a single person. My full suspension mountain bike just did not cut it. It took me awhile, but I finished the bike.
Lastly came the run. You really cannot call what I was doing a run, more like a wobble. My legs felt like rubber and I could barley lift them off the ground, but I made it the three miles without stopping. I did it, I finished my first triathlon, and as crazy as it sounds I really enjoyed myself.
Feeling good about my accomplishment, but still having some serious weight to lose, I again started reading more and more about triathlons. This time I was trying to find out how to get a faster time and not simply survive the event.
I found another race six months later that was about twice as long as my first race, 1000-meter swim, 15-mile bike, and a 5-mile run. I signed up for it.
My wife bought me a road bike, to help me with my on going weight loss and training, what a difference. I continued with the Tri for Life program. I exercised in different heart rate zones, mixing and matching between swimming, biking and running, downloading my exercise information into my computer for me to review. The weight just kept coming off and coming off.
At the time of my second race, eleven months after learning about triathlons, I was sixty pounds lighter.
It seemed like every week one of my patients, whom I had not seen for months, would come in for a treatment. The reactions were always the same, doc what the heck happened to you, you look like a totally different person!
I felt like a different person too, I was running without knee pain, I was happier at work, my relationship with my family was better, I was no longer embarrassed to go to a pool party or the water park, in fact I looked forward to them.
My patients and the members of the health club where my office was located were constantly asking me about my weight loss. I remember one of the gym members walking up to my desk and looked at my before and after pictures.
He pointed to my fat picture and said, "That is me" then he pointed to my fit picture and said, "That is the way I want to look". Wow, what a great feeling, I could not believe it. Then realized I was in better shape than almost all of the people in the gym.
My patients and many of the gym members began asking me if I could help them lose some weight. Some even wanted me to train them for their first triathlon. Tell would say, "Just tell me what you did, and I will do what you did." So, I began offering a weight loss program a called Tri for Life.
What's Going On Now?
As I am sitting here writing this article, it has been a year since my first triathlon. Just two weeks ago, I raced in my third race and I actually managed to finish second in my age group. I even picked up a sponsor, Amino Vital, a sports performance drink, and they set me up with a bunch of racing apparel.
But more importantly, with triathlons and this type of training, I have helped a number of people lose weight, and I have seen my patients totally change their lives right in front of my eyes. In fact six of my patients did this last race with me. It was the exact same race I did for my first triathlon. They were just as scared as I was, but they all made it.
Now they are hooked on the sport. Not only are they all signing up for another triathlon, but also they are trying to get their friends and family members, who have weight issues, do train for their first triathlon.
It is an awesome sport and an awesome program to help people lose weight. As a result of getting into triathlons, not only do I have a new body, I have a new life. The sport has completely changed my life for the better, and it continues to change the lives of many of my patients.
About The Author
Dr. Jeffrey Banas is a Chiropractic Sports Physician practicing in Mesa, AZ. He continues to compete in triathlons and has kept his weight off for over a year now. He now uses his experience to help people sort through all the confusion with losing weight.
Dr. Banas offers on-site weight loss program his office in Mesa, Arizona. Dr. Banas also helps people lose weight all over the world with his on-line program. All the programs are customized and personal supervised by Dr. Banas himself. If you would like to contact Dr. Banas, he can be reached at his office at 480-633-6837, or by visiting Loses Sixty Pounds ting his web site at www.sportstraining-weightloss.com
Dr. Jeffrey Banas
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