A Guide to Real-World Weight Loss Through Run­ning

How to run your way out of the worst weight-loss traps to be a fit­ter, hap­pier you this sum­mer and beyond

Canadian Running - - FEATURES - By Jes­sica Al­dred

Healthy, long-term weight loss is one of the most chal­leng­ing and con­fus­ing goals a per­son can tackle. Jes­sica Al­dred looks at the lat­est science be­hind ef­fec­tive, re­al­world weight loss, and how run­ning can play a sig­nif­i­cant role in your suc­cess. She speaks with ath­letes of all abilit y lev­els across Canada and de­scribes five com­mon pit­falls, and how to overcome them so run­ning can play an in­te­gral role in a hap­pier, fit­ter longterm life­style.

While I don’t of­ten be­gin ar­ti­cles by quot­ing Garfield, it seems that cyn­i­cal, lasag­nalov­ing fe­line was on to some­thing when he pro­claimed that the word “diet” is just “‘die’ with a t.” Or rather, as many obe­sity doc­tors, re­searchers, fit­ness ex­perts and ev­ery­day folks who’ve strug­gled with achiev­ing a healthy body weight will tell you, the re­stric­tive, of­ten­puni­tive na­ture of many pop­u­lar weight-loss pro­grams means that try­ing to lose weight has be­come syn­ony­mous with dis­com­fort, suf­fer­ing and, most fre­quently, fail­ure.

“There is an un­der­ly­ing be­lief that suc­cess re­sides in white-knuckle willpower, in un­der-eat­ing, over-ex­er­cis­ing, and some­how learning to like it,” writes Ot­tawa-based obe­sity spe­cial­ist Dr. Yoni Freed­hoff in his 2014 best­seller, The Diet Fix: Why Di­ets Fail and How to Make Yours Work. “The com­mon theme that makes long-term suc­cess dif­fi­cult is the no­tion that suf­fer­ing is a pre­req­ui­site to suc­cess.” This “trau­matic” mode of di­et­ing, as Freed­hoff calls it, be­comes un­sus­tain­able, be­cause at both a psy­cho­log­i­cal and phys­i­o­log­i­cal level, hu­man be­ings aren’t equipped to en­dure pro­longed suf­fer­ing (thank good­ness), and can only achieve and main­tain their ideal weight once they’re ac­tu­ally en­joy­ing their new life­style.

So, how can run­ning shake the spec­tre of suf­fer­ing from your quest for a healthy body weight, and make it the kind of long-term life­style you can em­brace and en­joy? On the most ba­sic and ob­vi­ous level, run­ning func­tions as an ex­cel­lent time- and cost-ef­fi­cient means of en­ergy ex­pen­di­ture, con­tribut­ing mean­ing­fully to the only equa­tion that truly mat­ters when it comes to weight loss: that you ex­pend more en­ergy than you con­sume over time. But per­haps even more cru­cially, the mul­ti­ple chal­lenges and re­wards of run train­ing can of­fer a lim­it­less sup­ply of real-time pos­i­tive re­in­force­ment while your over­ar­ch­ing jour­ney to­wards your ideal body weight can pro­ceed slowly and safely. The pun­ish­ing na­ture of so many weight loss plans (elim­i­nate all carbs! Clean eat­ing or bust! Eat like a cave­man, what­ever that means! Juice cleanse like your life de­pends on it!) and their un­re­al­is­tic goals and time­lines (drop up to 5lbs. per week! Melt all belly fat! Drop three sizes this sum­mer!) doesn’t just make them a con­stant stream of neg­a­tive re­in­force­ment and self­per­ceived fail­ure when you in­evitably can’t stick to the let­ter of their very strict laws – it also makes them to­tally un­sus­tain­able as a true life­style change.

Here are some of the big­gest weight loss traps and pit­falls, and the best run­ning-en­abled es­cape routes out of them.

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