Do you want to use running to lose the weight you’ve gained because of the Covid-19 pandemic (or just life in general)?
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 lockdowns has disrupted lifestyles that may have thrown off your routine even if you are – or were – a regular runner.
So being shut-in with food, less to do, having more anxiety, and less movement may have left your physical (and mental) condition in 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 60 pounds this way and became a professional coach), but you need to be careful what methods you use.
Here are a few tips for losing pandemic weight with running:
1. “You can’t outrun a bad diet.”
This is a relatively well-known quote because we can often out-eat our efforts to run or run more.
So a good first step that would improve your running and overall health would be to take an honest look at what you are eating.
This may have changed with the pandemic – and you might not have even realized it.
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. 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. Check out your portion sizes in your meals and snacks.
We often think we are eating the right amounts, but the actual portion sizes can be too large.
Or, they could even be too small, leading you to overeat later on, not knowing why.
This is something else that could have gotten out of hand when your routine changed, and you started to work from home or otherwise modified your routine.
You can use a food scale or even estimate various portions using your hand (for example, a handful is 1-2 ounces of snack food).
Plus, running can sometimes make you feel STARVING, so you unintentionally increase your portion sizes, reducing your efforts to lose weight.
Going into a run under-fueled can be one cause, but it also is because you are thirsty from dehydration, especially when it’s hot.
Note how you feel around your running, and pay attention to how you are responding to that.
3. Time your recovery fuel or meal.
After an incredibly long or hard run, you want to refuel after your run to hasten recovery.
However, this can add calories as an “extra meal,” especially if running makes you hungry.
You can combine this in the form of a well-timed meal that also serves to help you recover from your run.
4. Watch out for a 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 best running workouts for YOU to lose weight.
You may find a larger volume of easier runs promotes weight loss or that those 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 an excellent way to track your workouts 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 not to overdo it, so you don’t over-train your body.
6. Find the eating plan that works – and is maintainable -for you.
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, even more so for runners due to their cardiovascular effects.
It is up to you to find the one that works for your 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 eating far too little (or too much!). Don’t be that person.
Moderation is the key here. Come back slowly if you have gotten out of your regular running routine or are new to running.
Make changes to your usual 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 If you lose weight rapidly, the weight can be regained because it was not made in a way that is maintainable by your lifestyle.
8. Don’t try to lose weight when training for a distance race…
… especially if you are going for performance goals.
Though it might seem like a good time to lose weight because you will be motivated to run more, it can 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 that losing weight in the off-season can be best with my running and weight loss clients. You can still run, but you don’t have the physical stress of training on 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.”
This can be especially important if you work from home or are otherwise at home all the time.
If you live with a junk food junkie and it’s impossible to get rid of it all (true story, happened to me…), at least ask if they can put it away in a cabinet or storage area.
Some might say this is too restrictive, but this isn’t the same as saying you can “never” have the food – you can still drive to the store and get it if you want.
The issue can be if you are constantly seeing it, your brain will remember it, and it can act as a constant reminder and reinforcement to eat unhealthfully, especially when you are stressed, tired, or don’t feel like cooking a meal.
10. Stay consistent.
One of the most significant 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 precisely what your plan is in advance so that 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 LEAN+FAST Weight Loss Program for women runners! And send a message to me for further questions or to schedule a consultation to see if this holistic program 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!