Can Losing Weight Make You a Better Snowboarder?

Editor’s Note: Sabato is the newest contributor at agnarchy.com; he’s 40, and in his seventh season snowboarding. If you’re interested in contributing, contact us and let us know! We’re always keen to have different perspectives on snowboarding.

Last spring I decided to tackle a problem that had been growing over the last six years- my weight. I could have chalked up the cause of the weight gain to aging, but in truth it was a perfect storm of celebrating through food and drink, snowboard injuries that reduced my activity off the hill, and the “freshman 15” that I gained when I went back to university. In short I ate too much and moved too little.

At the end of last winter, I’d managed to weigh in at a board-bending 293 pounds, even though I put in 30k vert most weekends. I was terrified of seeing a weight starting with ‘3’ on my scale, and I’d grown concerned about being around long-term for my wife and daughter. On top of all of that I was 39 years old, and I didn’t relish the idea of being unhealthy and fat when I hit the big 4-0.

I had to make changes.

In my case there wasn’t much of a trick to it; losing weight was as simple as Calories In/Calories Out. The trick came in finding out what my body was burning and having the determination to create a deficit large enough to burn fat. MyTDEE is the site that I used to calculate my caloric burn. It told me that eating 500 calories less than my daily burn would let me lose a pound a week and if ate 1000 calories less that I would lose 2 pounds per week. From that point on, it was just a matter of tracking those calories and staying at a deficit large enough to meet my goals.

Between the end of last season and my first day on the snow this year I’ve lost 70 pounds.

Sabato, before and after losing 70 pounds
Sabato, before and after losing 70 pounds

Now that I have half a season of riding under my belt, I’ve had the chance to see how the weight loss has impacted my riding.

The impact is summed up with one word: progression.

I don’t know if it’s because my stamina is better, or because the falls hurt less, or because it’s easier getting airborne, or because the landings are softer, but all facets of my riding are improving noticeably.

This season I’ve destroyed my old speed records, my carves are deeper, I’m more confident on boxes and I’m entering the world of rails, I’m back on small jumps after a long hiatus, and my flatland spins are quicker and smoother than before.

My free riding is better because of improved stamina, body control, and confidence- and that has led me to begin exploring freestyle riding. I used to like to lay lines down, get fast, and charge steeps…and I still do…but now I’ve found myself looking for side hits and things to pop off from, and now I want to ride even more than before because old stale runs have gotten fun again.

An unexpected change is that my all-mountain stick (2012 Never Summer Legacy) doesn’t ride like a park board now, so I’ve recently added a true freestyle board to my quiver (2017 Never Summer Funslinger). I’ve also reduced the width of my stance by 2 inches. I don’t need such a wide base now that I’m down 70 pounds.

So if you’re trying to lose weight but you’ve fallen off the wagon, get back on and keep going. Your riding will improve!

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