Saturday, August 12, 2017

Swimming: Dieting Sucks, But...

Alright, so yeah.  I'm on a diet.  And it sucks.

I had a physical this week, and not to get all medically over-sharing on you, but I have a little heart problem.  I've also been putting on weight slowly but inexorably over the course of the last few years.  The heart problem isn't a big deal, exactly, but is something that we've been watching pretty closely since about 2010.  I have a slight mitral prolapse, and on top of that, there's also a minor blockage across the primary electrical conduction path in my heart, and it throws my heart's rhythm a bit.

In simple terms: my EKG looks a little wonky.

Or, as my doctor put it on Tuesday: "It's benign because you're controlling it with exercise.  As long as you keep working out, you'll probably be okay."

So yeah.  I'm swimming at least in part because I don't want a pacemaker.  It also happens that I like to swim, but the thing with the pacemaker has become a very real source of motivation.

Meanwhile, my baseline blood glucose levels have been rising steadily over the past few years, coincidentally with weight gain as noted above.  Again in the words of my doctor: "It's okay now, but if it gets any higher, we'll probably need to change your diet."

I discussed this with my wife, and we decided to go ahead and change my diet proactively.  I downloaded the Lose It app for my phone, and I've spent the week since the physical obsessively monitoring my exercise and caloric intake.  Honestly, I don't mind so much in terms of the actual dietary restrictions, but paying constant attention to EVERYTHING that I eat and do has been a major league pain in the ass.

The upside, though, is that I'm down about two pounds in a week, from 201 lbs to 199 lbs.  That's about a 1% change in mass, or roughly four times what my intended weight loss per week goal was when I started this project.  I would like to get down to about 190 lbs, which would still leave me heavy enough to play fullback or safety for the Army Black Knights.  Really, I could probably stand to lose even more weight than that, but for now my goal is 190 lbs.

So far, so good.  However, I wasn't expecting a 1% change in mass to translate into a 1% change in performance in the pool, nor would I have believed that I'd feel a 1% difference in the water after just a single week.  However...

Warm Up
3 x 200 easy freestyle @ 3:30
200 kick, alternate fly/breast by 50
10 x 50 @ :45, breathing every third stroke

Main Set
8 x 200 freestyle @ 3:00, descending by 2s

8 x 50 kick @ 1:00
50 easy
5 x 200 pull @ 2:55

50 easy

8 x 50 @ 1:00, alternating fly/free
 -- Fly 50s fast
 -- Free 50s easy

100 warm down

Total: 5000 yards

Okay.  My goal on the main set was 2:40 / 2:35 / 2:30 / 2:25.  That may sound insanely specific, but I've been swimming competitively for almost 25 years, and I know how to hit those times exactly when I'm on form.  Today, though, I was :02 faster per rep than I expected, a roughly 1% change in performance compared to expectations.  I was 2:38 / 2:32 / 2:28 / 2:24.  I felt great.  Granted, the last rep was kind of a slog, but I had decent uptempo speed through seven 200s and finished every rep almost exactly :01/100 faster than I'd been trying to go.  It was really crazy.

(Implied math: 1% of 90 seconds is .9 seconds, which rounds to :02 per 200)

What was really weird, though, was that the effects were cumulative.  I put out 1% less effort for the observed results, so I actually got faster as the workout went along.  My last four 50s Fly were :32 / :32 / :33 / :32.  I've not swum fly that well since I finished at Army!


Dieting may suck, but its effects were very real--at least today they were, anyway.  I'm legitimately curious to see where the next few weeks will take me.  I just hope that my wife and kids can bear with the obsessive behavior that actually reaching 190 lbs is going to require.

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