This Dad Lost 90 Pounds Mountain Biking and Tracking His Macros
Name: Joseph Lampen
Hometown: Holland, Michigan
Occupation: Venture capital
Time Cycling: 14 Years
Start Weight: 290 pounds
End Weight: 200 pounds
Reason for Cycling: When my wife and I started a family, I wanted to be active enough to run around with my kids. I now find a lot of fun and interpersonal growth in training to race.
I started gaining weight in college. After graduating, I briefly lost weight through eating better and casual exercise, but then I let my eating habits slip, and gained all the weight back and then some. My form of exercise at the time was walking nine holes on the golf course instead of renting a cart.
I first started cycling in spring 2008 after seeing what the sport had done for my father’s health; I thought it would be fun to join him. My first ride was 15 miles, and I couldn’t believe how sore my butt was. I went to buy a cheap pair of cycling shorts the next day. The following May, I rode in my first event: the Zoo-de-Mac 50-mile ride. It was a good feeling to complete a ‘long ride’ and not pay for it for several days afterwards.
In 2010, I raced the Iceman Cometh Challenge. I didn’t finish nearly as well as I had hoped I would (just over three hours), so it motivated me to ride more the next year. The next year, I took an hour off my time and finished fifth in the Clydesdale division. Each subsequent year I made gains, eventually winning Clydesdale several times, as well as my age group once.
After a couple of years of riding and racing, I started working for a bank that had a wellness program for its employees. As a part of that program, they brought in a firm to provide employees with a health assessment and do bloodwork to check for basic health markers. My results showed that I had high cholesterol as a 34-year-old.
I visited my doctor to talk about it. I really didn’t want to go on medication if I didn’t have to, so my doctor said my other alternative to try was to bring my weight down. I had already lost about 30 pounds from my peak at that point, but I made it a goal to drop another 20 pounds to see if I could get my numbers back in check.
Up until 2021, I had settled into a pretty comfortable and healthy 220-pound frame. It left me competitive enough, without having to watch too closely what I ate, but in a zone that kept my cholesterol in check. Working with a nutrition coach this year, I have dropped to 190-200 pounds as a part of a personal challenge to see what I can accomplish from a racing standpoint.
I currently train with both a cycling coach (Brian Harris using Training Peaks) and a nutrition coach (L2 Health & Wellness using Lose It!). I log my food and my coach helps hold me accountable to my plan. I manage basic macronutrients, so my diet can be pretty flexible. But I really like chicken tacos, so I eat those a lot
Now, I ride about 12 hours a week, with half of the time coming on the weekend. Also, I have a race schedule that is pretty consistent from year to year, with Ore to Shore and Iceman Cometh as the two events I key in on.
Last year, because of COVID, all but one of my mountain bike races were cancelled. I found it hard to stay motivated to keep up the training and healthy eating. I did end up joining up with seven other riders to set a world record relay traverse of the State of Michigan from south to north. We collectively rode the 365mile distance in just under 16 hours. It was an awesome experience. One thing I have realized about myself is that I have this funny little voice in my head that says I can win any time I line up at a race. Yes, including beating the pros. I think that’s a big part of what has kept my drive going for so long.
Joseph’s Must-Have Gear
→ Power2Max Power meters — Affordable and accurate. For data geeks who want to measure their training progress, this is a great way to go to get two-pedal power readings.
→ My bikes: A Specialized Epic FS for mountain biking, a Specialized Diverge for road and gravel riding, and a Specialized Fatboy for winter / off season riding — Living along Lake Michigan allows for some great beach riding in the winter once the sand freezes, and good lake effect snow that blankets our local trails.
→ RAD Cycle Products Adjustable Bike Trainer Fitness Desk Portable Workstation Standing Desk — I bought one of these over the winter to replace the stand that attached to my bike. This is large enough to set all the things, including two extra water bottles (it has cup holders) and a gallon of water for those long grueling rides.
The physical changes that you can see are just a small part of cycling’s impact on my life. Weight loss is a result of cycling, and it certainly has health benefits, but isn’t the most important aspect. I tell anyone who will listen that what I learn about myself on my bike translates into the other aspects of my life. Challenging myself to that next step provides personal insights that I use to motivate myself to reach new goals in my marriage, as a parent, in my career, and in my community. I highly recommend people setting a big crazy goal (or BHAG as has been said) for themselves and put a plan in place to achieve it.
Win or lose, you’ll learn something about yourself by either accomplishing something you never thought you could, or managing through the process of missing the mark. I also have been volunteering for my local mountain bike chapter of IMBA so I can be a part of creating more opportunities for others to find this incredible sport. That obviously wouldn’t have happened if I never bought that first bike.
Overall, I have lost between 90 and 100 pounds over 15 years. If you want to make the changes stick, find a plan that you can make sustainable and fun. For me, it’s racing. For others, it’s a group ride. At any race I go to, there are the riders who train to compete and those who train to complete. Find what brings you most satisfaction and enjoyment, and do that. Also, I didn’t lose all of the weight at once; it was a process that followed my performance goals year after year.
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