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  1. #1
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    Fat smoker trying to get healthy

    I'm not terribly overweight for my height (5'11), but I'd love to drop from 210 to 170. Unfortunately however, I've also smoked a lot of weed over the past few years, so my lungs are pretty beat up. I just bought a new bike and quit smoking though, with hopes that my new found love of the sport will heal my fat @ss and propel me to a long healthy life. Currently, every ride is particularly brutal on both my lungs and my legs. What can I do to speed up my recovery and build some real stamina and endurance without torturing myself too much? I want to climb mountains, but get winded riding around my block, which has many steep hills (so I don't sound too pathetic )

  2. #2
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    Ride, ride, and ride. You need to ride consistently - build up to several days a week. Cycling is not a weekend warrior sport. Also, expect to feel better before you start to lose much weight. Your fitness will improve faster than you lose weight. The weight loss takes time - months.

    Serious riding is a suffer fest. When I started riding someone told me a story about becoming a cyclist. At the beginning you slow down when it hurts. As you advance, you start to live with some hurt. Then you need the hurt.

    It takes time and miles. There is no short cut. I remember when a 45 minute ride was long. I also remember being excited about the first time I pedaled for 60 minutes with no coasting. Then I progressed to 3+ hour rides five to six days per week.


    Now, I have a job and a family. So, I try to squeeze 1-1.5 hour rides a couple days a week. I am slow and miss all those past miles.

  3. #3
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    I was a fat smoker myself 5 years ago waiting for a cardiac catastrophe to end it all. I quit smoking but I grew fatter because everything I ate tasted a whole lot better without nicotine. Decided to resurrect my 12 year old bike (6 year old bike at the time) and gradually biked from stroke inducing 3 mile rides to normal 20 mile commutes after 3 years. When I was starting to bike, the 20 mile bike ride was just unthinkable without motorized power or support. Now I hardly break a sweat biking 20 miles.

    Regarding climbing hills, I named each and every one of them and ticked one off one at a time after conquering it. When the list was all ticked off, I biked 2-3 hills at a time until I can bike all of them on one go.

  4. #4
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    Time and riding. That's what it's going to take. No short cuts.

    Glad to see you stopped some of the bad habits and hope you are on the road to a better quality life.

    Check out a book called Heft on Wheels. It's about a college professor who smoked like a freight train, ate pure garbage, and drank his weight in booze weekly and how cycling changed his life. He talks about how hard it was but with effort and dedication it worked. It's a good read.

  5. #5
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    A great deal of health is determined by your diet, check out Dr. Ann's website.

  6. #6
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    Was in a similar boat as you although I had quit smoking for about 2 and already dropped the weight through diet and other exercise prior to getting the bike. Less than a year later I am doing 30 to 40 mile rides in some of the toughest stuff the East Coast has to offer.

    The secret to riding more without getting winded is ride more, push harder and diet.
    The secret to recovery is time and diet.
    You will find that the more you ride the less time you will need for recovery.
    Also a post workout protein shake can help speed up the process. The quicker after the workout you drink it the better. I used to keep one in a cooler but the shake has now been replaced with the post ride beer. lol
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  7. #7
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    I buddied up with a friend just beginning to take up the activity with his newly bought C'dale 29-er. He was in a really ichallenging state, 5'6" 230lb butterball. I thought he'll give up after the first week. I was surprised that he didn't give up and kept on riding until he could easily ride 30 miles a day. I gradually progressed him from 5 miles per ride during the first week, then I set targets for him like ride to his office (7 miles away), then ride to friend's house across town (10 miles away) then when he was consistently riding 10 miles per ride, I invited him to join a mass biking event (Tour of the Fireflies) where he was able to bike for 30 miles. The pure joy on his face when he finished the event was priceless.

    What I'm saying is, hook up with a riding buddy who'll be patient enough to ride with you. You stop counting the miles when you're riding with a buddy.

  8. #8
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    Consistent riding is the key. Don't try to build Rome in a day! It does get better.
    You will get a ton of conflicting & different recommendations on diet but I believe a plant based whole food diet is the way to go. Stay away from processed foods. Juicing vegetables is great for you. Ultimately you have to decide what type of diet you can stick with for the long term.
    Good luck to you!

  9. #9
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    Get out and ride everyday. Add in extra miles every week and keep building. Adopt a smart diet. Before you know it, the weight will fall off and your stamina will increase. Go out and keep killin' it!

    Lots of people have done it. I gave up all the bad and replaced it with riding. Riding took me from 230 down to 165 and I'm 6'3". You have to want it!!

  10. #10
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    Good job, man! Just ride, have fun, it'll come.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for all the support, advice, and personal stories everyone. I will definitely keep my diet in mind and try to ride farther and farther everyday. Another quick question--I've been stuck in this Western heat wave, 100+ everyday. Do you think I'd get more out of my rides if I rode in the heat, or wait til it cools off in the evening? I'm willing to kick my own @ss in the heat if it'll be worth it.

  12. #12
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    ^
    Not really. If it's too hot outside, you'll consume your water more quickly and end up riding for a shorter period of time. You may also put yourself at the risk of a heatstroke.

  13. #13
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    Blunt, do strength training once a week too, it helps a lot.
    I'll do a kettlebell routine, followed by weight lifting to right at muscle failure then hit up an hour of cycling (or elliptical if its raining too hard.)
    That, coupled with elimination of starchy carbs (bread, pasta, corn) reduction in sugar, and biking a few times a week has helped me lose an average of 10# per month.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluntrager View Post
    Thanks for all the support, advice, and personal stories everyone. I will definitely keep my diet in mind and try to ride farther and farther everyday. Another quick question--I've been stuck in this Western heat wave, 100+ everyday. Do you think I'd get more out of my rides if I rode in the heat, or wait til it cools off in the evening? I'm willing to kick my own @ss in the heat if it'll be worth it.
    The heat will sap your strength and make riding harder counter productive. I'd still ride, but not with the idea that riding in the high heat will help. Take loads of water (invest in a hydration pack maybe) and take it easy, but still get some miles in. If possible, ride early or late when it's not as hot out.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluntrager View Post
    Thanks for all the support, advice, and personal stories everyone. I will definitely keep my diet in mind and try to ride farther and farther everyday. Another quick question--I've been stuck in this Western heat wave, 100+ everyday. Do you think I'd get more out of my rides if I rode in the heat, or wait til it cools off in the evening? I'm willing to kick my own @ss in the heat if it'll be worth it.

    Exercising in the hear does not help you get in any better shape or burn fat any faster.
    It just makes you sweat more. Any additional weight loss is purely water weight and will be regained quickly. If anything choosing to ride in the hot will have a reverse affect on health due to the fact that you will probably get less ride in and are more likely to dehydrate. Besides the obvious problems with dehydration, it will also slow muscle growth down which will in turn make your body less efficient at burning fat.

    "Kicking your own ass" can mean different things to different people.
    It is good to push your body but it also easy to over do it. Push hard, not too hard.

    I would also recommend not making bicycling your only exercise and add in a couple days of resistance training. Nothing hardcore is needed but enough to activate different muscles.
    Just stick it in granny and start grinding.

  16. #16
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    Great advice about the heat, thanks! I'll hit the gym during the day and ride and night. I'll stick to Bikram yoga if I feel like baking.

  17. #17
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    I can verify that the weed is not your problem. After being a long time user of both, I quit smoking cigarettes 2 years ago and occasionally will toke, but after quitting smoking 2 years ago I ride for 30k in 1.5 hrs with no problems and can have sex for hours.

    once you quit smoking cigarettes and get your **** together, you'll enjoy riding, lose weight no problem because you can actually exert yourself, and you'll be awesomeness.

  18. #18
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    You gotta take 3x the daily recommended dose of D3 and Vitamin C, to begin the healing process of scarred lung tissue. Hopefully, you stopped early enough to not let COPD creep suddenly, later into your life.

    I was was also a former, 2-pack/day tobacco user and recovered meth addict. I lost 87 pounds over the course of 5 years. Prior to that - I could not even lose a single pound, if my life depended on it. Biking was the key to switching my metabolism into overdrive and I overcame congestive heart failure, at age 47. Before, I could barely ride around the block twice...without gasping for air. Now, I'm doing road centuries and 5-hour MTB epics, with 3,000ft of climbing. It's truly amazing how much the human body rebounds....
    "The mind will quit....well before the body does"

  19. #19
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    Here is a good thread on quitting smoking.

    Quitting Smoking

    That book by Carr referenced in this thread sounds worth checking out.

  20. #20
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    ^^ ^^^ This is all very encouraging! I am already noticing improvements. I peddled nearly three miles yesterday without stopping...Though I almost puked right after haha. Could've been my breakfast. Milk and cycling don't go together do they?

    Luckily, I didn't smoke long enough to scar my lungs (had a chest x-ray done a few month ago).

    Can't wait to be able to ride long long way. I think it'd even be good to set the goal of competing in XC eventually. Is there a tried and proven method for building endurance ? E.g. 2 miles everyday for a week, 3 miles everyday for a week, 4 miles, etc., until after a few months I'm doing 20-30 miles everyday no problem?

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluntrager View Post
    Is there a tried and proven method for building endurance ? E.g. 2 miles everyday for a week, 3 miles everyday for a week, 4 miles, etc., until after a few months I'm doing 20-30 miles everyday no problem?
    Hills are your friend, for torching calories and building strength/endurance. First, get the base fitness established. When you can do a flat 20-miler, without breaks 2x a week...I'd say the hills are your next challenge.
    "The mind will quit....well before the body does"

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blair Daffy View Post
    I can verify that the weed is not your problem.
    How do you figure? Smoking is smoking. It's still damaging to your airways and lungs. Doesn't matter where the smoke comes from. The only difference is people don't smoke 20-40 joints a day like they do cigarettes, so in that way, yeah, weed is less damaging because of the frequency. But on a 1:1 basis, they'd be the same.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluntrager View Post
    ^^ ^^^ This is all very encouraging! I am already noticing improvements. I peddled nearly three miles yesterday without stopping...Though I almost puked right after haha. Could've been my breakfast. Milk and cycling don't go together do they?

    Luckily, I didn't smoke long enough to scar my lungs (had a chest x-ray done a few month ago).

    Can't wait to be able to ride long long way. I think it'd even be good to set the goal of competing in XC eventually. Is there a tried and proven method for building endurance ? E.g. 2 miles everyday for a week, 3 miles everyday for a week, 4 miles, etc., until after a few months I'm doing 20-30 miles everyday no problem?
    Still a long ways when you're puking after just 3 miles but it's a start. You can gradually increase the distance by defining target locations farther and farther away. That way the accomplishments seem more tangible. Personally, I made my goal to at least to reach a level where I can consistently bike a bit farther than a marathoner can run. If a human can run 26 miles, there's no reason for me to go dramatic tired biking lesser than that.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gundam168 View Post
    If a human can run 26 miles, there's no reason for me to go dramatic tired biking lesser than that.

    I know people that run ultras, 50 and 100 milers....better get to peddlin'...lol

  25. #25
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    This post is inspiring. I've always been really fit and didn't realize how difficult it can be to kick the bad habits and improve your body.

    It's a great feeling to be able to take that huge breath and stretch your lungs out, and to see your body turn into a machine where all you have to do is feed it food, and you get performance out. It takes lots of training though.

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