‘ WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN’
EMMA ELSE, 47, Bedford, Bedfordshire Weight before 24st Weight now 11st Weight lost 13st Kept it off for 5 years
HOW I LOST IT ‘I had no intention of becoming a runner when I decided to lose weight. I watched the London Marathon in awe, but felt it wasn’t for me. I initially lost weight by sticking to 1,000kcals a day and minimal carbs. When I was almost at my target weight, I had the confidence to join a gym and try the treadmill. My husband, Neale, encouraged me to come out on the roads with him. Running gave my weight loss the boost it needed and has kept my weight stable ever since. I can’t imagine life without it.’
HOW I’VE KEPT IT OFF ‘These days I eat a few more carbs – as a runner you need to. If I’m running more than 10 miles I’ll have a bagel with peanut butter and jam beforehand. During long runs I have gels or Trek bars, and I have protein straight afterwards, then a normal, healthy meal. I stick to lean protein, such as chicken or fish, with lots of veg and some wholegrains.
Neale and I recently ran our first ultra, the Stort 30, in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire. I’ve also run the London and Milton Keynes Marathons. I’m not the fastest, but I’m happy with that. I can go for hours at my own pace, taking in the scenery and chatting with friends.
I’ve fallen in love with running so sticking to exercise isn’t hard. I’m not someone who needs a race on the horizon to keep my training up. I like thinking, “How far would I like to run today?” rather than, “How far do I have to run?”. I run four times a week: once with my local running group, Happy Feet, twice on my own, then a long run with my husband or friends.
‘My advice to anyone looking to lose weight is to keep a written record of everything: what you eat, when you exercise, how you feel and what you weigh. This was crucial for me. And plotting my weekly weight loss on a graph to see the downwards curve was the best motivation of all.
Exercise is a vital part of it, and I’d say to people don’t be shy. I was very nervous walking into the gym for the first time, as I thought it would be full of thin, fit people. But I was surprised to find lots of people like me, just trying to get less wobbly. You soon realise no one is looking at you, they’re just doing their own thing.
Becoming a runner doesn’t mean immediately donning Lycra and entering races if you don’t want to, but once you lose the weight and feel the health and fitness benefits you have all the motivation you need to keep going. Of course there are times, like holidays and Christmas, when you put on a few pounds. My strategy is proactive. If I know there’s an occasion coming up when I’ll want to indulge, I lose a few pre-emptive pounds in the weeks beforehand.’
I try not to look back but I do regret how many years I wasted being overweight and feeling unhappy. Running has made me such a happy person. If you think running isn’t for you, please put aside your doubts and try it. You’ll soon find, like I did, that there’s a really supportive community out there waiting to welcome you.’