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
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.