Jim Damico, 126 TCCS
Many of us, at some point, feel we have added a few pounds and think that running might be a way to become more healthy. And the key word here is ‘healthy’. If you’re active and eat right, you probably have good body composition, how much muscle in relation to how much fat you have. But finding that out, exactly, can be expensive and complicated. Most people take the easy route and just use a weight scale. So, with the assumption you’d like to lose a few kilos running, lets see how to do that.
I know you thought we were going to talk about running. But the fact is that weight loss is more about what you eat than how much exercise you get. As a rough guide, you can control your weight by 80% diet and 20% activity. We’ll get to the ‘activity’ part in a minute, but for now, lets look at our eating habits and what we eat.
What you don’t burn off, turns to fat! This is simple science folks. You burn so many calories in a day and if you eat more calories than that, you body efficiently stores it for later use as fat. Can’t get more simple that that. So, like we said, weight loss is controlled 80% by diet, so you’ve got to eat a little less than the calories you need for your activities like running.
Eat a sh*t-ton of vegetables! Lou Babauta at ZenHabits.net has the best and easiest diet I’ve ever found: Eat a sh*t-ton of vegetables. Want to eat a huge burger and fries. Eat a sh*t-ton of vegetables first. An ice cream cone? Great, but eat some vegetables first. At any meal, just make sure you eat a lot of vegetables and mostly you’re going to probably eat less of the bad stuff which will balance out your diet.
Eat slower! I grew up in a household with 4 brothers. If you didn’t eat fast, you didn’t get seconds. A very bad habit to carry into adulthood, let me tell you. Too many people either inhale their food by shoveling in as fast as they can swallow it, or we don’t even taste it because their minds are on something else. Both of which leads us to overeating. Here’s an experiment: try to eat just one spoon/forkful at a time. That means while you’re chewing, put the spoon/fork down and don’t touch it until you’re mouth is empty again. Much harder than you think, at least to me. Same thing with finger food: eat those french fries or potato chips one-at-a-time instead of by the handful.
Don’t drink your calories! So many wonderful drinks here in Thailand, and you can get them practically on every corner. But those calories are absorbed the fastest and don’t fill you up so they end up just being more fat you’ll have to carry every day you run. Occasionally, they’re a welcome treat, just don’t make it a once-or-twice a day habit.
Water, water, water! We get so busy sometimes, we really don’t drink enough water. But water is so essential to our health and can help with weight loss. If your piss is yellow, you’re not drinking enough. Period.
No multitasking! Last but not least of ways to ‘hack’ eating to get a healthy weight. Stop doing other things when you eat. You’re sitting there watching the latest Netflix movie and look at your plate, its empty and you never even really tasted it. That’s a perfect recipe to overeating. When you eat, just eat.
Run long or run fast! If you’re running, and keep your diet the same, you probably will loose some weight, especially if you’re training for a half or full marathon. It takes the body about 20 minutes to burn through its easily accessible carbohydrates such as sugars before it starts to consume fat, so your longer runs will work at that more. But you can also rev up your metabolism by introducing some interval sprints during some of your runs. For example 400m x5 fast run with 400m jog/walk in between.
I’m slower and fatter! If you eat less, you might have days where your endurance and/or speed is worse. That’s to be expected. But if you deal with the weight issue early in your training, you’ll be so much better off to improve both endurance and speed because of it. A rare few will actually gain weight. Yes, I know. Crazy! But muscle weighs more than fat, so even though the scale might say otherwise, I bet your clothes are still getting loose because you’ve traded in bulky fat for lean muscle.
Weigh at the same time under the same circumstances! You’ll either come to love or hate the weight scale while you’re trying to loose weight. So, to stop letting the scale make you crazy, you need to be consistent. Weigh yourself at the same time, the best being first thing when you get up in the morning. Your weight can actually fluctuate several pounds during the day so don’t try to compare morning weigh-ins with an afternoon look at the scale. Space it out to once a week or every couple of weeks. If you try everyday, you could set yourself up for failure by not seeing weight loss but a few days of weight gain. A much better way is to just feel how your clothes fit. I imagine they’ll start getting looser and that’s a very positive feeling.
You’ll run faster! We all know there are thick medical books that tell us all the downsides of carrying around too much weight. But from a runner’s standpoint, it’s simple: if you weigh less, you can run faster and with more enjoyment.
So, if you take a little more care with what you put in your mouth, follow your training plan, come Jan 29, the kilometers will fly by and you’ll cross that finish line with your arms held up high with a big smile on your face.