Running for Weight Loss?

Many people start running because they want to manage their weight. Losing weight can be very difficult for a multitude of reasons. It’s hard to be hungry and say no to things you love to eat. It’s also difficult to force yourself to go to the gym or exercise when your energy is lagging because you’re eating less.

Exercise, such as running, is only one piece of the equation of losing weight. Losing weight may seem simple, eat less than you burn each day. But…it’s not. People are horrible at estimating calories going in and calories going out. Keep your plan reasonable for your lifestyle, simple to implement and bring your awareness along.

People start and stop weight loss plans all the time. Part of the problem is they are not seeing results or they get stressed and give up. Implementing a diet or exercise is a step forward and doing both is even better. But it all comes down to practicality.  The research out there shows that the most effective diet is the one you can stick to regardless of its approach (low carb/high fat, paleo, gluten free, whatever).

It’s the same with exercise. Do what works for you. If you can only fit in three twenty minute sessions a week, do that. Don’t succumb to the pressure of five to seven days a week for an hour if it doesn’t fit your life. You can always work up to it, if you want.

You don’t need to starve yourself to lose weight. You need to be aware of what you are eating and make healthy choices. Eating aware means not only knowing the quality of what you are eating, but when you are eating, and how much you are eating. Many of us put food in our mouths unconsciously; we pass by the candy bowl on the secretary’s desk; we grab a quick snack and a big gulp when we put gas in our cars. Eating more slowly allows your body to recognize when it is full. Using smaller plates or leaving space on larger ones will help prevent over eating. Remember you don’t have to clear the food off your plate. And if you have children, you don’t need to finish their food.

Foods low in sugar and high in protein and fiber will make you feel full longer. Eat as much unprocessed fruits and veggies as you can get your hands on. If you are having a sugar craving, eat berries or mangos. Consuming less processed sugars will also reduce your cravings for them. Eat a breakfast with high protein, which will reduce snacking before lunch. It will also reduce calorie intake throughout the day.

Make sure you are drinking enough water throughout the day. Your body can send hunger signals when it is actually thirsty. Reduce your intake of drinks filled with sugar. We consume 400 calories a day on average through our choices of drinks. It’s very easy to drink up to 800 or more calories a day with our soda and sweet coffee drink consumption.

So what are the keys to weight loss: reasonable for your lifestyle, simple to implement, and awareness.

The Weigh In…

weigh in

 Image curtsey of Anne Summer of http://usmediahouse.com

Does your body weight impact your race? Of course it does. American culture puts the screws to both men and women to have the perfect body. Women want to be thinner and men want to be more muscular. Weight has become a part of our self-identity, which is very unfortunate. People judge others based upon their weight in a variety of ways. They make an assumption about lifestyle, intellect, and financial success. This is ridiculous.

The most important question is what is the healthiest weight for my lifestyle and where do I feel comfortable?

Hanging out at either end of the spectrum can hurt your running. Being underweight will slow you down more than being overweight. Your energy bottoms out, your speed declines, and you loose lean muscle. If you need to measure something, you should measure body composition, not weight.

It’s hard not to focus on the numbers. Runners hear losing one pound will make you two seconds faster per mile (or some such thing). Heavier runners are more likely to injure their joints. It’s a balance. The goal of athletes should be health and fitness regardless of their body weight.

If you believe you need to change your weight in either direction talk with a doctor or sports nutritionist to determine what is a good weight for you based upon your goals and lifestyle. They can help you lose fat while maintaining muscle mass.

Make sure you are fueling your body with a healthy balanced diet. I know, I know, we all run so we can eat the extra piece of cake or Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. That’s fine and good every so often, but 95% of the time you should be choosing fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and health fats. What you put into your body, really does matter because you get out what you put in. We learn all this stuff when we’re kids remember the food pyramid. As adults, life gets busy and it’s hard to make time to cook rather than dump stuff out of a box.

There are a lot of “ideal weight” calculators out there for runners and just for anyone. These are helpful, but I caution everyone not to get overly caught up in whatever it spits out as your ideal weight.

Your ideal weight is where you feel healthy and strong.