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Skating and weight loss

skatey-mark's picture

I just thought I would share some of my thoughts regarding dieting and skating, since I seem to go through this alot... For the past several years, I've been caught in a bit of a cycle where I put on quite a bit of weight over the winter (20-30 pounds) and then spend several months in the spring trying to work it off, only to put it on again the following winter. In 2005, I vowed that it would not happen that year, but I ended up moving and that threw off my exercise routine for many months, during which time I put on my winter weight, as usual...

Not that I needed much motivation to lose the weight again this spring, but seeing pictures of myself from the Great EsSkate in Miami (at the peak of my weight gain) definitely got me off my butt! I started my diet March 1st, and lost 30 pounds over the next 3 months -- pretty consistently at 10 pounds per month. My body fat percentage went from over 15% to under 8%... I'm now at the point where I'd like to lose about 5-7 more pounds, but I'm more focused on getting my body fat % down to around 7%, and then getting my weight stable for a while. It seems that I can lose the weight pretty easily, but once I go off the diet, the pounds start creeping back on. So this year, I'm trying to focus on a "soft landing" for the end of the diet, and make subtle changes in what I eat while I figure out what I can get away with and what I can't.

Now, to get into a little more detail about the diet itself. Essentially, it breaks down to: eat less, exercise more. That's really it. I count the calories I eat, and exercise enough to counteract that, and then some. The goal during my diet was to have a 1000-calorie "deficit" each day. That's 7000 calories per week, which should equate to a 2-pound loss per week.

Some useful resources are:


This will let you esitmate your "basal metabolic rate", as well as estimate calories burned during various exercises.


This is the closest thing I've ever read to how I diet... It has a great Excel spreadsheet that you track your weight in, and it estimates how many excess calories you're consuming per day. (Or what your calorie shortage is, if you're losing weight.) Nice graphs so you can see your progress over time, too.


Along with those basic guidelines, I also eliminate alcohol during the diet, which is a pretty good way to get rid of a lot of empty calories. I also eliminate desserts... The first couple weeks are the toughest, where I am still craving the beer, pizza, chocolate, etc... After that, the cravings go down substantially and I also can start to see the beginning of progress. So some positive feedback starts coming in with lower numbers showing up on the scale, and a downward slope on my weight graph in the excel spreadsheet. That helps motivate me, and keeps me focused on the goal.

So I basically estimate my BMR (basal metabolic rate) to be around 2000 calories per day. That means my meals have to be limited to 1000 calories/day unless I exercise. Any calories burned during exercise mean I can eat a little extra. An "easy" skate for me will burn about 600 calories per hour, so that's a fun way to get ahead. A hard skate can burn 900-1000 calories/hour, but that's not as sustainable. Plus, I've read the lower-intensity workouts burn more fat, so it seems like a long easy skate is the ticket...

Of course, on days that I can, I limit my calories and workout, so it's a one-two punch. That little extra got me from 2 pounds/week to 2.5 pounds/week on average...

I've backed off on the skating a little recently, due to some other things that have come up. But for the most part, my skating schedule during the diet was:

- Sunday: 20 miles easy, followed by roller derby practice (not much work there, but some...)

- Tuesday: HARD 30 mile skate

- Wednesday: easy 13 mile social skate, (unless it's raining then 1-hour indoor speed practice)

- Thursday: 60-90 minutes at the track, when I felt like it :)

- Saturday: long, moderate skate (38-48 miles)

Also, I'd add in an evening of StepMania (a Dance-Dance-Revolution clone) sometimes, or on nights that it was raining. The heart rate monitor says I burn 500-600 calories an hour on that, and I usualy do 90-120 minutes...

It's all a numbers game at the end of the day... Burn more calories than consumed. Each 3500 calories deficit should equal one pound of flab. Now, the side benefits are getting in better cardiovascular shape and building muscle... The added muscle should also increase metabolism, and burn more calories when not exercising...

So that's my own method for getting back in shape after some months of excess... It's definitely not for everyone and you should of course talk to a doctor before attempting any diet/exercise regimen.

Now -- if anyone notices me starting to put on weight again... PLEASE tell me to put down the beer and put on my skates!!!


skart's picture

Just my 2 cents

Great post, Mark! I just wanted to add that I have been pretty cautious about my fitness in the last couple of years and I could add some thing from my experience:

1. As you outlined, muscles means faster metabolism so putting on muscle is a sure way to burn more calories. However, you need to give your body enough building material to grow muscle fibers. Thus, you should consume about 0.8-1.5 grams of protein per pound of weight when you are in the muscle  building phase.

2. You should always get adequate rest to allow your body to recover. Remember that the worst state you can get your body into is overtraining. It takes weeks or even months to recover. How do you know if you are overtrained? The easiest way is to take your resting heart rate every morning when you wake up. If the heart rate jumps over 10 beats over your normal - you might be getting overtrained. However, I personally just try to listen to my body whenever I am in a gym... If I am really dragging the workout and just don't feel like doing anything I take it easy or just skip the workout altogether as this is one of the signes of getting overtrained.

I also, try to take at least one week off after six weeks of working out to get my muscles rested.

3. When you start your cardio and endurance training you need to bring up your carbohydrates intake and lower your protein intake (to keep overall calories in check). Remember that cardio burnes a lot of glycogen in your muscles and without sufficient replenishment your body may start burning muscle for energy (protein is the second fastest source of energy after carbohydrates your body has. muscles are protein). I try to get my protein intake down to about .6 grams per pound of weight and switch to more carbohydrate rich foods. I still try to avoid simple carbohydrates (sugar, refined flour, etc.) and try to stick with complex carbs (whole grain foods, some fruits, etc.) as much as I can.

I hope this helps :-)

timv's picture

Good Points About Protein

Your comments about training and getting adequate protein ring true for me. A nugget of nutritional pseudo-wisdom that I picked up somwhere was that the typical American diet contains much more protein than we really need. But when I was doing marathon running training, I eventually figured out that this wasn't even close true under those conditions. Because of the beating that leg muscles take from running and the amount of repair that was always going on when doing a lot of miles, I found that I needed all the protein I could get. The 0.8-1.5 grams of protein per pound of weight guideline, which I learned from some bodybuilding source or another, was what I was going for too. And that's somewhat tricky to do using ordinary foodstuffs without eating a huge amount of total calories at the same time.


Interesting discovery related to that: A can of tuna is pretty close to being pure protein. For maximizing protein without getting a lot of fat and other calories included in the deal, it's pretty tough to beat. It's a lot cheaper per gram of protein than any of the fitness store protein powder or drink products, and it tastes a whole lot better too!

Tuna as protein

I would pretty much agree with you on using tuna as a high protein source for the $$$.  The only problem I've heard with using it frequently is its mercury content.  I think it's fine in moderation, but I'd look to egg whites and tofu to stretch the amount of time in between tuna meals.  Both are also cheap.
skatey-mark's picture

more things I thought of

Great suggestions regarding nutrition, etc...  I'll be the first to admit my knowledge of sports nutrition sucks, and I probably could get better results if I read one of the several books on the subject that are currently gathering dust on the bookshelf!

I did think of another benefit, too...  Money!  I am amazed at how much less my grocery bill is while I'm on my diet -- and my "eating out" bills are drastically decreased too...  Alot of that has to do with cutting out the alcohol and desserts of course.  But when I eat at a restaurant now, it is rare that I'll eat more than half an entree, so it ends up being at least two meals.  And I've been eating a lot of soup or small microwaveable meals at home, which are very inexpensive...

 So if you're looking to lose a few pounds and need to save a few bucks, go ahead and start that diet...  :)

timv's picture


I wonder about the eating out business myself. I used to go to restaurants a lot, but with passing time (and diminishing available income) I've been doing it less and less. And my attitude about it these days is that they're in the business of putting things in food that I would never put there myself while I pretend that I don't know about it (like a quarter stick of butter in an entree) and giving me much bigger portions than I would ever make for myself.


I know that it supports local business and creates work opportunities for students and the like, but health-wise it seems like it's probably pretty much a disaster. McDonalds get the bad press, in "Supersize Me" and the like. But eating exclusively at Ruth's Chris would probably have the same effect, though at a much higher cash price.

kjg's picture

Computer program

I have used Dietpower in the past www.dietpower.com which is a pretty cheap program that does just what you described monitor food in verses exercise and adapts base metabolic rate based on results. If you are religous about inputting it works and for data freaks amongst us gives a bunch of statistics to monitor and take your mind off being hungry!

Weight loss

My diet, since 4/4, has consisted of giving up snacks.  Absolutely no in between meal indulgences.  How was I able to do this?  It was not by shear will-power, but rather it was because I got braces!  It is impossible to munch on something and then turn around and talk to a small group.  Knowing that food would be stuck between my teeth while I was attempting to teach a group of 6th graders corrected my eating misdeeds.  It's very simple.  I can't eat, unless I can immediately brush.  That's how I lost 20 lbs.!

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