It may seem strange clicking on a story about holiday weight gain before you've even made Thanksgiving plans.
But consider this: The average American starts putting on weight in October, and the pounds you gain between Halloween and Christmas can take five months to lose, according to recent Cornell University research.
Chances are you’ll snack on some bite-sized candy bars this week—and keep munching all the way to New Year’s Day.
You're goddamn right I will. Taking food advice from Bicycling is like taking sex tips from Catholic Digest. See, we're genetically predisposed to store fat in winter, and it's a survival mechanism that's way older than your favorite "10 Steps to Rock-Hard Abs!" glossy fitness magazine:
While common throughout the animal kingdom, adipose tissue is a particularly useful strategy of metabolic thrift for humans. Adipose tissue provided an energy buffer against abrupt changes in food resources as our species left Africa 60,000–120,000 years ago to colonize virtually every habitat on the globe.14,15 In addition, humans have relatively long gestation and neonatal maturation periods as well as large brains that require a constant supply of glucose. Adipose tissue mass as a percentage of body weight is highest during the neonatal period, when brain growth is most rapid, in order to protect against the detrimental effects of malnutrition on the developing brain. Adipose tissue continues to exert a strong influence on reproductive fitness in adulthood, as human females are infertile in the absence of sufficient adipose tissue stores. The maintenance of adequate adipose tissue reserves is thus essential for the perpetuation of our species, and as such, powerful systems have evolved to defend these reserves. Collectively these systems comprise the so-called adipostat, the sum of all metabolic processes that act to maintain adipose tissue mass.
Which is why dieting doesn't really work:
Obesity is considered by many to be a consequence of inadequate self-discipline or “willpower”. As such, individual diet and exercise have been historical mainstays of treatment. But vast evidence demonstrates failure of such efforts in almost all cases. The reasons for this failure are based in the tightly regulated systems that control body weight and energy metabolism. The neural networks that regulate these systems are rooted not in the frontal cortex, the seat of human cognition and conscious “willpower”, but rather deep in the hypothalamus of the midbrain, an area of the brain that long predates humans. We often believe we can consciously control how much and how frequently we eat, but in fact this control is much less than we perceive. While we are capable of limiting our food intake for short periods of time, the control mechanisms for long-term regulation of body weight are well beyond our conscious control. As a result, individual dietary efforts are almost universally followed by weight regain. Obesity is highly persistent. Obese people cannot simply choose to eat less
I mean sure, our ancient ancestors didn't have fridges full of food twelve months out of the year, but I doubt you can thwart millennia of genetic programming with "cheat days:"
(When you're a pro cyclist evey day is a "cheat day.")
Or with pre-treat "burpees:"
actually an exercise:
1. Begin in a standing position.
2. Drop into a squat position with your hands on the ground. (count 1)
3. Kick your feet back into a plank position, while keeping your arms extended. (count 2)
4. Immediately return your feet to the squat position. (count 3)
5. Jump up from the squat position (count 4)
Just for fun, offer a Fred or Frederica a cookie and watch them break into a frantic burpee session like a puppy begging for a Milk Bone.
Anyway, it seems to me a much more sensible approach is not to freak out over a little winter weight gain, and rest assured that you'll burn it off in spring when you're riding more and your body is no longer compensating for that vestigial winter food scarcity.
You know, work with your body, not against it.
Unfortunately, athletic endeavor has little to do with physical health. On the amateur level it's mostly about turning you into a teenage girl with an eating disorder, and on the professional level it's about destroying your sense of independence and self-worth in a militaristic fashion:
"I saw Shane and Iain and asked if I could have some of the information. They couldn't give it to me and said I'd been on the programme too long, that I was too old at the age of 25. Shane said that I should just move on and go and have a baby.
"Don't get me wrong, the boys don't get it easy, but I can't imagine him saying something to one of the men about their body shape or telling them to go off and have a baby."
I can totally imagine a coach telling a male athlete to "go off and have a baby," or at the very least to "get off the rag." Because nothing scares male athletes more than being compared to women and homosexuals.
Aside from the comments in that particular incident, Varnish says she has "a list as long as my arm about comments I've had about my figure" in the past.
"After 2012 I was told that, 'with an ass like mine I couldn't change position within the team sprint'," she said. "I see things that are right and wrong and have done since I was in reception class and there are things going on in British Cycling that are wrong.
Hey, if this whole presidency thing doesn't work out for Trump then maybe he could become the head of British Cycling.
Then you've got super-duper-extra-ultra-ultra-ultra endurance events, which aren't sporting events so much as they are gatherings for people with self-defeating personality disorder:
SPOTSYLVANIA, Va. — Crushed by exhaustion, you may dream of a competitor’s head morphing into a Pokémon-like demon — and then open your eyes and still see it. The next day you will quit the race.
To fill your queasy stomach during your third 112-mile bike ride, you will discover the best way to eat a sausage-and-egg sandwich: shove it in your mouth and let it slowly dissolve.
After 500 miles on a bike, 10 in the water and more than 100 on foot, it will make perfect sense to grab a branch and a broomstick in a desperate bid to propel yourself — like a giant mutant insect — the last 31 miles. It will not be enough. You will collapse on the road.
Jesus, just take a fucking hallucinogen already.
The sores from chafing are so bad you will think nothing of tugging open your shorts and squirting in ointment in full view of strangers. There is no modesty here; they seem to understand.
Actually, no. They don’t really understand. They are not competing in this race. And nobody not competing in this race understands.
Uh, no, it's exactly the opposite. Everybody but the people competing in this race understands that this behavior is completely untenable:
David Jepson was unable to hold up his head during the 560-mile bike leg. Despite injuries, including a blister the size of a golf ball, he was able to complete the 131-mile run and win his division.
560-mile bike leg? Can't even keep his head up?
Is he sure that golf ball-sized blister isn't just his brain?
And at least in ridiculous event like RAAM you actually go someplace, whereas in this Anvil thing you just ride around in circles for like a week:
All the legs were done in confined loops (30 laps in a section of the lake, 101 laps of a more-than-five-mile course for the bike and 75 laps of a nearly two-mile course for the run) at Lake Anna State Park, earning the course the moniker “the squirrel cage.”
And here's the universal excuse for stupid behavior:
Some of those family members came to watch their loved ones destroy their bodies, if not their minds, for nearly a week because … because … why? “If you have to ask,” more than a few racers replied, “you will never know.”
That's pretty much the same answer a teenager gives when asked to explain why they've been cutting their forearms up with a razor blade.
Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of these events is that people view them as accomplishments, whereas they're actually just a new way to compensate for the fact that you suck. Think about it: if you can't win at a normal-length event then all you have to do is suck longer than everybody else and by default you "win." However, the fact is that once a sporting event exceeds a certain length skill and tactical savvy are no longer in the picture and it's simply all about how much boredom and discomfort you can endure, at which point you might as well watch a "Police Academy" movie marathon for three weeks while sitting on a sharp rock. I mean, come on, it's no longer a race if you have to stop for fucking naps in the trunk of an SUV:
("Fuck it, I'm sleeping in a Hyundai.")
It's basically just having the flu, and the only thing you're accomplishing is not dying:
“With this kind of test,” he wrote, “these athletes were not racing for money or fame but purely to discover what is possible in terms of endurance limits.”
How did it go?
“I was hit by a car three times,” Kurtz said in an interview. “It was a zoo. We’re lucky nobody died.”
It also ravages your heart and is worse for you than sitting on your ass and eating Cheetos:
Ultra-endurance athletes appear to have an increased rate of cardiac arrhythmias, or unusual heart beats, most likely because of scarring of the heart known as fibrosis. But what, if any, danger that poses has been hard to pin down, Hoffman said.
“Exactly why the fibrosis occurs probably isn’t understood, but seems to be an adaptive response to this sort of exercise,” he said.
Yet even doctors manage to rationalize it:
“I know this is not good for my body,” said Jay Lonsway, a urologist who completed the quintuple. “But it is good for my soul.”
Don't you have to go to medical school to be a urologist? Didn't they explain to you in school that you don't have a soul? Where did he get his degree, a storefront church?
And it won't surprise you to learn that some of the participants in a "sporting event" based on the triathlon format don't even know how to ride bikes:
To qualify, a competitor must have finished at least a double Ironman-length race, yet here was Jerome Libecki, 46, doing his first-ever triathlon. He had sort of slipped into the race — although he had done other endurance events, he needed a friend to persuade Kirby to let him in.
His triathlon inexperience showed: About 300 miles into the bike leg, after a friend took a harder look at his bike, he realized he needed to shift into a higher gear.
“I was just pedaling,” Libecki said.
And here's the most tri-dorkulous bike crash account I've ever heard:
Steve Hendricks, who had coughed up blood and had the nightmare and hallucination of the Pokémon character, earned gasps when he told the gathering he had broken a rib on the third day. He fell off his bike while fumbling with a cookie and his odometer, and the lingering effects made finishing the race impossible.
Lastly, speaking of hallucinations, I got an email from a PR person informing met that the blunt has now gone artisanal:
I wanted to let you know about these new amazing, high-end marijuana blunts produced by Honest Marijuana.
Honest Marijuana’s “Honest Blunts” are unlike anything else on the market. They aren’t rolled with tobacco, but instead come in two varieties: an organic hemp roll and an organic mint rolled sugar leaf.
Honest Blunts contain probiotically-grown cannabis, which is free of pesticides and chemicals. The plants were hand-watered and hand-trimmed for the best user experience possible.
They should give those out along the course of the Quintuple Anvil Triathlon.