Beer Day 12

I’ve been super busy this week with little time to post updates or record videos… so here is a short update in the interim…

Diet: Settling down now that I’ve reduced alcohol, weight is at least constant but I’m still stuck around 75kg. It’s pretty common to hit a plateau at some point – for me it’s usually the weight at which has been my “lowest constant” in the past 12 months. No matter what type of diet I’m on, I tend to “hover” around this weight for a while before it drops off. This is common for everyone, and can be a make-or-break point in any weight loss initiative. Seeing lack of progress is a sure-fire way to dampen spirits and send you on a downward spiral, binge fest, or maybe both. However, with perseverance and faith, the plateau will eventually be overcome. If this was my first time getting down to race weight, I would probably think that I’ve just reached my weight, and that I’m not meant to go any lower. But since I’ve been here before, I know that getting to 73kg or 72kg is very possible, provided that I have some patience. I’ve been lower than that too,  getting to around 70kg, which requires getting over another plateau that I will see at 73kg (it happens to me every time, and usually I don’t try and go lower because 73kg is “good enough”).

What I really should have done in this project, is anticipate the 75kg plateau and scheduled something sustainable (like burgers) for that phase. Ah well, next time I will do that!

Workouts: I’ve had some surprisingly great workouts when I didn’t expect to, and then I’ve also had some terrible workouts where I expected greatness. The important thing is to just roll with it based on how you feel. If I’m feeling good, I try and go a bit harder and make use of the good feeling. And likewise, if I’m feeling terrible then I just the workout short and accept it.

Anyway, here’s to obliterating the plateau!



Beer – Day 9 – low alcohol is so much better

I really feel much better now that I’ve reduced alcohol. Weight is also stable now around 75kg and not jumping all over the place. My calories today were all from liquid (water, kombucha, ginger beer, a regular beer, and a protein shake), with the exception of some tomato and avocado I had in the evening. I only did a short 8 mile run, but I felt great and the pace was good.

Calories were a bit low today but I just was not hungry at all for more. I could have forced some food down, but let’s face it I could do with losing this kg and moving on to cakes!

Totals 1,288 calories 214g carbs 29g fat 51g protein


Day 8 – Beer is a FAIL – but continues with a mod

Ok – the decision is in – out of necessity (or maybe desperation?) I am modifying the beer phase so that I can avoid the alcohol. Even with relatively small amounts (like 2-3 beers at night), the impact on me is really negative… sleep is compromised, I feel terrible most of the time, and weight is fluctuating all over the place (even with constant calories). This phase was always about experimentation to see what would happen – and the [obvious?] answer is “nothing good happens when you are on a beer diet”.

So in order to get back some stability (and general human function) I will continue with this phase, but broaden the scope to drinks that are brewed in some way. This gives me flexibility to include non-alcoholic drinks such as kombucha (which does have very small amounts of alcohol) and ginger beer. In the spirit of the overall “bad food diet” we are still ok – ginger beer has a lot of sugar and is generally something I would avoid except during and directly after a workout (or race). I will still drink beer but limited to 1-2 per day… there is just no way to get most of my calories from beer and still function! My fellow South African countrymen will probably disown me – I know a few who can put back 12 a day, every day, no problem. But I am clearly not one of them!

Beer Day 6

Today started bright and early with a 3:45am wake up to get my 6am flight. I got some sleep on the plane, which did help to offset the early start. It was a heavy work and travel day but I did manage to squeeze in a 2 hour bike ride in. I was still sore from 2 days of running in San Francisco, so being able to bike instead was welcome relief.

That’s certainly one area where triathlon excels as a sport that offers ample opportunity to get some training in no matter how you feel. As a pure runner, I would be taking a lot of days off just to get the recovery in from the physical pounding, but being able to bike or swim really helps to offset that. And even though I was sore from running, I didn’t have to bike super easy – I actually got a very solid workout in. I did one of the best workouts to do when you have limited time. It’s a continuous build of equal intervals where you start easy, then build straight into a “solid tempo” effort (around Ironman effort) and then straight into the final intervals which can be described as “everything you have left”. Intervals are quite long, anything from 10 minutes up to 45 minutes per interval. Obviously it’s good from a physical exertion perspective but it’s also a very good pacing exercise, since you have to settle into an effort level that you can actually consistently sustain over each interval period. So I did 30 min at 200 watts, 30 min at 240 watts, and then 27 min at 265 watts. My final interval was cut short due to a flat tire 3 minutes from the end of it. The one cool thing that happened when I got the flat tire, was that (amazingly) Garmin’s incident detection kicked in and asked if I wanted to text Michelle. The way it works is that you need to override it in order to prevent the text from being sent, so if you’re lying in a ditch somewhere, the text will be sent automatically unless you stop it. I found it incredible that the accelerometers were sensitive enough to detect that I got a flat tire, and that it wasn’t just a rough patch of road. I suppose they detect a sudden rough patch followed by an immediate stop. Either way, it impressed me, and I don’t get easily impressed by technology.

As you may notice, this post is quite light on beer content… I did have 2 beers for dinner, accompanied by 2 hot dogs. So beers were probably less than 50% of my calories for the day. I will never include beer again on a diet like this, but if I did then it should really be part of a phase with actual food included too. Since I would be totally non-functional on ONLY beer, I do have to eat. And because there was no pre-defined rule about what food that could be, I find I’m making it up each day, with the only rule being that I try to include the other foods that are part of this diet, such as burgers, pizza, ice cream etc.

So I will see how the weekend goes. I’ll stick with the beer until the end of the week, but I really need to move on from the alcohol because it makes me feel terrible. Three people have suggested I switch to ginger beer (which is a great idea). I am actually interested to do that and see what effect it has, because the carbohydrate content is similar to beer, but there is little or no alcohol, making it easier to function effectively as a human being (especially one that has to work and train!). 


Beer day 5 – Pliny the Elder!

Well I have not managed to find a working scale here at my hotel, so it appears I am stuck with beer for the rest of the week. But, that is not a bad thing, since I got to taste my Pliny the Elder today! I have to say, it lived up to the hype – very very good!

The day started with a great run from Union Square in downtown SF, to Chrissy Field and back. Just over 10 miles, and I felt very good (even though I got through 7 beers the day before). In fact I think the high carb content helped, and since I spread the beers out over the day, the effect of any alcohol was mitigated.

It was a full day of work, then the big moment of enjoying Pliny The Elder around 5pm before heading over to some evening networking events, which entailed a few IPAs, a cider, some mai tais, a moscow mule, and another beer of which I forget the name.

We also had dinner at a cool eatery called State Bird Provision, which apparently is hard to get into but we just walked right in. The food was absolutely excellent, and the drinks were good too. Another good day!

Beer day 4

Day 4 was a bit more successful. It was a long travel day and I spread the beers out over the day, so managed to get 7 in:

    • Odell’s IPA at the airport
    • Fat Tire on the plane
    • 3 x Lagunitas IPA at evening event
    • 1 x Anchor Steam and 1 x Sneak Attack

Then, in the middle of all of this I got two great beers from my trusty crew member Ian Hersey. The much sought after Pliny the Elder from Russian River Brewing, and Blind Pig from the same brewery. Pliny is a fantastic example of scarcity driving demand.

Totals 2,552 calories 282g carbs 43g fat 99g protein

Beer Day 3

Day 3 of beer was a little better than day 2. I delayed by beer until around 6:30pm, then had two big IPAs (22oz each). Alcohol content was over 9% so that made me feel, err, not so good. At least they were around 600 calories each, so I got in more beer calories than other beer days.

As expected, appetite spiked massively once the beer was consumed. I did eat, since I don’t seem to be able to consume more than about 1000 calories of beer, so I had some ice cream, chocolate, and chips. 


Beer Day 2 – a day at the zoo

It’s only day 2 of beer and I’m already over it… Tyler and I visited Denver zoo which was a good outing. See pic below of an appropriately themed tortoise made out of beer cans.

As you may imagine, a beer diet doesn’t lend itself to driving around, so I waited until we were back home at 3pm to have my first “meal”. That’s where the problem kicks in. I wasn’t really hungry before I had my first beer, but literally as soon as I had it, I became ravenous. I wanted to eat everything in sight. Coupled with the presence of alcohol and it’s willpower-reducing properties, this is not a great situation to be in. I tried another beer but as expected I just could not drink that much. Then, I wanted to still get a run in, so I went for a run after having 2 beers. That is not ideal either. 

All-in-all this meant I was having a miserable time. I was even so desperate to have something that was not beer, that I had 3 small slices of pizza (which 2 days ago I never wanted to see again).  I am now highly motivated to drop this kg so that I can move on from beer. In retrospect, it was a terrible decision to make beer a part of this project. I thought it might be fun. Maybe if I was a big beer drinker then it would be. But for me, beer should just be something that is consumed alongside something else, and for me never more than one or two.  

The eye-opening thing, though, is how fast beer/alcohol affects appetite and reduces self control. When I just have a beer in day-to-day life, it’s not noticeable at all. But when it’s all that you’re having it is EXTREMELY obvious. So that is another reason why alcohol will not form a part of my regular life after this. A glass of wine a few times a week works ok for me, but nothing much more than that.

Well, that’s it. Let’s see if I can drop this weight and move on ASAP. I am dreaming of donuts and cakes (which I have not had in maybe 10 years). Heck, even brussels sprouts sounds appealing right now!

Beer Day 1

Ok this was a little easier than I first thought. Basically I went the whole day until 4pm without eating (which was actually fine, I didn’t get hungry at all). I then went for a 1 hour ride, and surprisingly power was better than expected. I had some Isopure whey protein during the ride, and about 500ml of coke. I started “dinner” as soon as I got back home, which consisted of Kona Brewing Golden Ale for starters, Deschutes Inversion IPA for main course, and Lagunitas Brown Shugga for dessert.

I only made it about half way through the IPA before I felt full. As I’ve said before, I can’t really drink a lot of beer, and it showed in this dinner. I really had to force myself to drink this down. Since I was very low on calories, I supplemented with a hot dog and some tortilla chips, which although is not beer, still fits the criteria of “bad food”. 

For day 2, I’ll hopefully adapt a bit and be able to stick to beer only (as far as possible). If I keep this up with calories so low, I’ll be through this phase very fast!



Totals 2,058 calories 264g carbs 45g fat 90g protein

this post is a part of the raceweight project, a “calories in, calories out” experiment to see if I can get to my racing weight eating mainly “bad” foods

Pizza Day 12 (final pizza day woooohoo!)

74.9kg – I thought the day would never come and I’d be eating pizza forever…!!!

But it did, final day of pizza is done, and now it’s onto the best/worst phase – beer! This is going to be tough for me since I don’t really drink a lot of beer. I’m reasonably sure that I can’t drink more than about 5 a day, which is less than 1500 calories. On the plus side, it will probably go quite fast… I really hope so, since I’ll be at a conference next week, and surviving on beer alone would be err… “interesting”. On the other hand, there is bound to be an abundance of beer at the event, so there is that. 

If you think about it, beer is basically liquid bread. So everything will be ok. Yeah right. 

To prepare for the next phase, I ended today with 3 beers at a cool spot called Rayback Collective here in Boulder, catching up with good friend Osman and Leah. By the way, if you want to move to Boulder, Osman is your man! He represented us during the home buying process and I can’t recommend him enough.

Totals 2,326 242 66 46