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So yesterday we heard from some lightweight rowers about their quest to stay strong and stay trim. But what about the rest of us? Let’s face it; in the real world, most of us aren’t lightweight and most of us have to devote large amounts of our time to jobs and families. But wait! All is not lost. Can you lose weight and still train hard? I’ve spoken to two club rowers whose answer is a defiant “yes”.

Alison Brighton, Runcorn Rowing Club

Alison is a single sculler who has managed to lose an impressive 10% of her body weight whilst still hitting her rowing targets. Here’s how she did it:

“I had put 10kg back on after losing a lot of weight through the first part of my NQT year – I was up to about 82 or 83 kg, which is scary being female and also a problem when your boat is a 70kg boat.

“After rigging it really, really high so I could tap down over my quads, and changing my coach, my weight came down through volume – hours and hours and hours of steady state from about November through to March, working within a heart rate range which was set from my resting HR and a maximum from racing or a 2k (forget which).

“I was doing weights etc. as well, but very little on the erg thanks to a dodgy back and the ‘magic’ formula of 1-2 sessions a week of  about 10 being anything over ‘steady’. I believe this is closer to the ratio that GB squad do – masses of steady state relative to higher rating work (and that can mean 24+ apparently!)

“Foodwise – I was eating normal (large meals) plus making sure I ate/ drank something for recovery straight after training. I got fed up of the sight of large piles of pasta and feeling like I couldn’t eat enough to get through it.

“I was down to 74kg ish for Henley Women’s Regatta, although I wanted to get down to 72 really.

“This year, I’ve done much less steady state, due to change in coaching emphasis and being much further away from my club. Result: back up to about 78kg before I had a stomach bug. I’m about 76kg now (in reach of ‘race’ weight)

“But, really, I didn’t think much about food, other than whether it would make me feel sick before training (scrambled egg, tuna, anything with onion) and whether I had eaten enough.

“Once I decide if I’m actually in any state to race this season, after whatever last race is, going to go back to steady state, and make sure I get the miles in. It’s what works for me, for fitness, for technique, confidence in my boat and of course being lighter (am never going to be light!)”

Next up is my very lovely friend:

Julia Oliva, ladies’ vice-Captain, Monmouth RC

Some say she is the power behind the Olympic throne, and that Lord Coe leaves love-lorn messages on her voicemail. All we know is she’s called the Jools.

Jools took a more diet-based approach to losing weight and has lost a staggering amount of weight since November 2011. I’ve seen her on the gym and on the water and can vouch for the fact that she has lost nothing in energy. Here’s what she told me:

“S’easy! For lunch and dinner, fill a plate with gorgeous leaves, rocket, tasty herbs, etc., top with a low cal dressing and find a small gap on the same plate to  put whatever you fancy in the high protein/quality carb/low fat range. My favourites are salmon fillet topped with red pesto, chicken breast with green pesto. Go easy on the trash carbs and ‘up’ the protein – for satiation – I’m convinced that protein makes you feel fuller longer. When I say fill your plate with veggies – I mean fill your plate!

“That means for the Sunday roast too – start with a plate full of broccoli, carrots, beans, cauli etc then add your lean meat, finding enough room to just squeeze in 1 roast potato – to savour it :)
“This even goes for a curry – pile on some veg, add the meat/sauce, then squeeze in a heaped tablespoon of rice :) You can eat the same as the family, just change the ratios.
“Eat whatever fruits you like between meals.

“I’ve lost 20 lbs since November and never really felt hungry.

“Drink loadsa water.

“Weigh yourself daily – yeah I know that the diet sheets say once a week, but there’s plenty of research out there that shows that daily weighers have more success at losing weight and keeping it off.

“…..And emotionally (I think this is an important one)  – don’t feel that you’re punishing yourself and resent being on a diet – love it! Realise that you’re going to be on the diet for 6 months – some people say ‘lifestyle change’ but I don’t think that means much. So set a SMART goal for 6 months’ time, with a couple of mini goals in between and work towards it. One bad day doesn’t mean ‘end of diet’, just have an extra lean day the next day. 

“Also remember that this is a good thing that you’re doing, but your body doesn’t think so as it prefers to be fat – again research available. So if you’ve been overweight before, your body will try to regain that state making it more difficult for you, for about a year after starting a diet :(
“It’s a battle between body and you – win it ;)”
Huge thanks to Alison and Jools for sharing their secrets. By the way, if you’re looking out for Jools at any regattas this summer, she’ll be the one in the fetching leopard-print leggings.
So, we’ve had the lightweight rowers and we’ve had the club rowers, but – ever mindful of my audience – I know that not all of Girl on the River’s readers are rowers. So tomorrow I’m going to bring you Part III, with a runner who has lost mahoosive amounts of weight whilst training for various running events, and a bodybuilder who successfully got lean for her competition. Can you lose weight and still train hard? You betcha.

 

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3 Responses to “Can you lose weight and still train hard? Part II: the club rowers”

  1. Gabi says:

    Literally addicted to your posts! I’m in my novice year at CURC (Cardiff university) and honestly find your articles so informative and fun! My home is near Monmouth though and I’m thinking of joining to keep up my training over the summer though so I may see you round! X

  2. Thanks so much! Yes, do join us! We have a few students who just come along in the holidays and they’re all lovely.

  3. […] Comments « Can you lose weight and still train hard? Part II: the club rowers […]

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