EMMA ELSE, 47, Bed­ford, Bed­ford­shire Weight be­fore 24st Weight now 11st Weight lost 13st Kept it off for 5 years

Runner's World (UK) - - Middle Managers -

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.’

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