All About U: Losing Weight the Fun Way!

This week we had the pleasure of catching up with one of our original clients, Dave! Between working full-time and caring for his adorable lab Maggie, Dave has figured out how to finally make exercise fun and in the process has lost weight, gained friends and travelled the state racing and training.

Tell us a little about your day job?

I’m a patent attorney for the US office of a European biotech company, which is down in Mountain View.  I’m lucky that I have flexible hours without a long commute, which allows me to work out in the mornings.

What made you decide to make fitness a priority?

I’d just accepted an in-house position after six years working for two different large law firms.  At 42, I was the heaviest and most sedentary I’d ever been, and I had been watching a number of friends and colleagues around that same age start dealing with the consequences of inactivity and weight gain, mostly by taking a variety of medications or being forced by their physicians to change their diets.  I really missed being active–I went to grad school in Boulder, Colorado, and used to ski, hike, mountain bike, and run all the time–plus I didn’t want to be taking several medicines every day for the rest of my life.  Also, I know myself well enough to realize that a crash diet wouldn’t work for me, so I took a hard look at my diet and lifestyle and decided it was time to make a real effort to change my habits for the better.

What has been the most difficult part of getting active?

It’s always a challenge getting out on days when the weather isn’t great or I don’t feel like it, but thankfully there aren’t too many of those.  Also, I have a regular running group and a number of cycling buddies, so knowing that someone else is counting on me to go out really helps.

What has been the best part?

I’ve seen more of California over the last two years than I had over the previous five, because I’ve done events all over the place, from Mount Shasta in the north to Malibu in the south.

What are your favorite classes and why?

uCycle is great, because it has helped me figure out how to work out more efficiently.  The stuff I’ve learned about working in different heart rate zones and about active recovery translates really well to road riding. I also love the TRX classes.

What physical (and mental) benefits have you noticed from exercising more?

I tend to have fewer peaks and valleys over the course of a day, which helps my focus at work.  Also, my endurance has improved significantly, so I’m much more active generally — some weekend days I’ll be out of the house running around for 8-10 hours — had I done that a couple years ago, I would have needed two days to recover.

What advice do you have for someone who is looking to get more physically active?

Listen to your body!  I don’t always take enough rest days, but whenever I do take some time off, I always come back stronger and faster.  Also, figure out what works for you in terms of finding motivation to keep going.  I’m pretty goal-oriented, so I try to sign up for an event every month (sometimes I forget to check my calendar and wind up with two or three, but whatever works); I find having a race on the calendar helps me keep working hard.  If that doesn’t work, try something else, like going shopping for some new clothes in a smaller size, whatever works.  Though I have to say, I tend to get fidgety now if I don’t get out for a couple of days, so motivation is less of an issue now than it used to be.

When did you notice you were getting fitter and stronger?

I started to feel a bit better pretty quickly, but it wasn’t until I’d been active for 9 months or so that I really started to see the benefits.  Then last fall I started going back and looking at the improvements in my times over routes I run or ride regularly and was amazed — in a year, I took 3.5 minutes *per mile* off my 10K time, and went from averaging around 10 mph on my first century ride in June last year to averaging about 15 mph on another in October.  So the improved fitness kind of snuck up on me a little bit.

You’ve now been racing for a couple years, what’s next?

Well, I’ve got a bunch of things on the calendar the rest of this year, including the Death Ride (I’m going to finish all five passes this year!), a sprint triathlon, two half-marathons, a Tough Mudder at Lake Tahoe, the 200K route at the Sequoia Century, and Levi Leipheimer’s Gran Fondo in Santa Rosa.  But I’m seriously thinking about trying to do a half-Ironman next year, and possibly a marathon late in the year.  I don’t know if I can handle something that long, but we’ll see how I feel at the end of the year.