If you want to use running to lose weight because the Covid-19 pandemic has affected your waistline and health, you’re not alone. A new APA study showed that 61% of Americans have gained weight – 29 pounds on average.
In fact 1 in 10 have gained over 50 pounds. This is in addition to poorer health metrics such as sleeping less, increased stress and decreased mental health, which can also contribute to more weight gain (and in turn, affect your running!)
The closure of gyms and and lockdowns has caused a disruption in lifestyles that may have thrown off your routine even if you are (or were) a regular runner. So the combination of being shut-in (with food), less to do, more anxiety and less movement may have left your physical condition in a shambles.
A desire to be outside has led to more people picking up running. But, as many longtime runners know, that doesn’t always lead to automatic weight loss.
But don’t worry – it is possible to lose weight with running, (in fact, I started a running and weight loss program after I lost over 50 pounds and became a professional coach), but you need to be careful what methods you use. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. There is a saying, “You can’t outrun a bad diet.” A first step that would improve your running and overall health would be to take an honest look at what you are eating.
You don’t have to become obsessive about it, but take an inventory for about three days – two days during the week, and a weekend day. Sometimes, that in itself can be a game-changer for some.
Take note of how many snacks and processed foods you may be eating. Conversely, how many fruits and vegetables are you eating?
For some, changing the balance of foods to less of the former and more of the latter could be a step that moves the scale in a better direction.
2. Take stock of your portion sizes. Sometimes, running itself can make you feel STARVING and that can actually throw off your efforts to lose weight.
Going into a run under-fueled can be one cause, but also, so can being dehydrated. Note how you feel around running, and pay attention to how you are responding tot that.
3. Time your recovery fuel. After an especially long or hard run, you want to refuel after your run to hasten recovery. However this can add calories in the form of an “extra meal”.
You can combine this in the form of a well-timed meal that also serves to help you recover from your run.
4. Watch loss of appetite caused by running. Conversely, sometimes people can lose their appetite after they run, causing them to become hungry later on or in the evening/night. You can quickly have a smoothie or protein/carb drink after your run instead of eating if you notice this is happening to you.
5. Find the running workouts that work best for YOU. You may find a larger volume of easier runs promotes weight loss, or that that higher intensity intervals are better for burning fat.
Contrary to what some articles would want you to believe, there is no ONE right way for everyone (or else everyone would be doing it.) A running journal can be a good way to keep track of how your workouts are going, and if weight loss is desired, to notice trends over time for the types of workouts that work for you.
If you are going for high intensity, remember to not overdo it so you don’t over-train your body.
6. Find the eating plan that works. Just like there is no one type of workout that is best for losing weight for you as an individual, there is no one right type of eating plan. Again, everyone would be doing it.
Beware of anyone trying to tell you that there is, and additionally trying to sell shakes, supplements or workout plans “made for your weight loss.” Many supplements can be dangerous, and even more so for runners due to their cardiovascular effects.
It is up to you to find the one that works for your individual blueprint and lifestyle, which sometimes can take some experimentation.
7. Be careful of doing too much. Wanting fast results, you might tank your weight loss and health by trying to run all the time, and/or eating far too little (or too much!). Don’t be that person.
Moderation is the key here. If you have gotten out of your normal running routine, or are new to running, come back slowly. Make any changes to your normal way of eating slowly and gradually, so you will be more likely to stick to it. If you have gained weight since the last time you ran regularly, it may feel different on your joints and muscles. You may want to run slower, and use soft surfaces rather than just jumping back into your old routine.
And some want rapid weight loss, but another saying is, “easy come, easy go…” Often times If you lose weight rapidly, the weight can be regained because it was not made in a way that is maintainable by your individual lifestyle.
8. Don’t try to lose weight when training for a distance race… especially if you are going for performance. Though on the surface it might seem like a good time to lose weight because you will be motivated to run more, it can actually counter your weight loss goal as you will be putting a lot of stress on your body but not giving it the fuel you need to perform.
I have found with my running and weight loss clients it can be best to lose weight in the off season. You can still run, but you don’t have the physical stress of training layered on to your weight loss efforts.
9. Get rid of the visible junk food at your house. For some, this one can be painful. But, “out of sight, out of mind.” If you live with a junk food junkie and this is not possible (true story, happened to me…) at least ask if they can put it away in a cabinet or storage area.
If you are constantly seeing it, your brain will remember it and it can act as constant reminder and reinforcement to eat, and eat unhealthfully.
10. Stay consistent. One of the biggest factors in weight loss can be to stay consistent with your chosen way of eating, running and other holistic lifestyle changes. Sometimes things start to work and we can fall back into old habits. If you’re new to running, it can mean meeting others to run to keep you on the ball, making an appointment with yourself, or joining a group.
If it’s a new way of eating, you may want to write down in advance exactly what your plan is, so when stress strikes, it doesn’t get the better of your appetite. You can also ask a spouse or household member if they would like to make this change with you.
You can also get a coach – if you have tried multiple methods to lose weight without success or it has not been sustainable, I’m also here to help you!
Check out the Running and Weight Loss Program and send a message to me for further questions or to schedule a consultation to see if this holistic may be right for you. I’d love to help you reach your goal.
Above all, don’t wait, just get started on your goal. Six months from now you won’t want to wonder why you didn’t!
Run well, and keep Running with Life!
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