Cambios, Corriendo

Running off the pounds

I began running three years ago. I’d been actively following the Weight Watchers plan and steadily losing weight. The program encourages “moving more,” but it’s up to you to decide what that movement looks like and what “more” means. Technically, you could do no exercise and just focus on staying within the allotted points and you’d likely lose the prescribed 0.5-2 pounds a week.

At the time, adding in some cardio 3-4 times a week made sense since everything I’d ever read and heard about weight loss included changes to diet and exercise habits. I didn’t realize then that it would develop into something more than just a habit.

In late February, I joined the gym thanks to a sweet promotional deal. I signed on to my sister’s gym plan for $15 a month. Lori and Adrian gave me some tips on working out and soon I was a late night regular at the local 24 Hour Fitness. I mainly stuck to the treadmill and elliptical, but also added in some light strength training moves Adrian taught me.

I saw results immediately. I improved in my endurance and speed within a few weeks. On the weeks I exceeded my allotted points but still got in 3-4 workouts, I still lost or remained even at my weigh-in. Working out made me feel good, but it was primarily a weight loss tool just like tracking, journaling and watching portion sizes by measuring out my food.

Sisterpants

Although running and weight loss were inextricably linked, I didn’t see it as a chore or a necessary evil. I stuck with running rather than other cardio activities because it was what I enjoyed most. I was also inspired by my sister’s marathon training and seeing her cross the finish line at the San Diego Rock’n’Roll Marathon.

My time sucked, I wasn't prepared for all the hills

Soon, I got fitted for running shoes at Run With Us in Pasadena and signed up for a 5K in the summer. That trail 5K kicked my ass, I wasn’t prepared for the hills and had to walk a little, but still enjoyed the experience and atmosphere.

Eventually, I’d lose 60 pounds by following the WW plan and running regularly. (More on that here.)

***

Last week I read a post by RoseRunner, a talented and fast runner who bristles at the assumption that she runs to lose weight or stay thin. Unlike a lot of her readers, I couldn’t relate. One, I don’t get those comments. Two, if people made that assumption about me, it’d be true. I wouldn’t be a runner now if I hadn’t decided I wanted to lose all the extra weight I’d been carrying around since I was a kid.

Dad went to cheer us on, everyone else slept in (don't blame 'em)

In my experience running to lose/maintain weight was not mutually exclusive with actually enjoying the sport. Soon after my first outdoor run (May ’09), I grew to love running and came to see myself as a runner. It took another year before I was ready to push myself to run longer distances and sign up for the Long Beach half marathon. That first experience was great and made me want to challenge myself more.

I no longer run to lose weight, but running is part of my lazy maintenance efforts. I don’t track calories/points for food or exercise. I’ve tried both and ditched it after a week or two. If I feel like my jeans are too tight, I concentrate on eating — more vegetables, watching portion sizes, eating out less — rather than exercise. I occasionally attend WW meetings to weigh-in, but don’t weigh myself weekly. I haven’t been at my goal weight since summer 2010, the same summer I increased my running and started training for my first half marathon. Yup, I’ve gained some pounds back as I’ve run more and become faster… go figure.

Standard

6 thoughts on “Running off the pounds

  1. Wow, I love hearing about beginnings and weight loss. The relationship between running and weight loss over the long run is definitely a weird one for me, too. Running has been the only thing that is simple enough and easy enough to vary over a long period of time, and of course, consistency is key to weight loss/maintenance. So somehow, even though I sometimes get burnt out and sometimes even “hate” it, I know that I’d get bored with other things equally as quickly. Of course, my funk right now is keeping me from logging a TON of miles, but the 3-6 milers are really my running happy place. All the other stuff — e.g., marathoning, is a result of peer pressure. What can I say, I’m weak.

    I was thinnest when I was ellipticalling for an hour a day, up to 6 days a week, and weightlifting for 30 min afterward. Running makes it impossible for me to eat as well as when I’m just doing that. So it works for some, or maybe for a short period, or maybe for certain amounts of mileage.

    End of random thoughts.

  2. Touche, touche! I’m glad I got to read your full story. I also just ran over and read all your related posts. You have the flipping best dresses on your flickr slideshow. And I think your weight loss made your smile stronger, I love it

    I also got faster after gaining some pounds. Some people may say it’s muscle, but I think it’s about energy — if you are eating like a dieter, whether 1200-1800 calories a day, it is pretty much impossible (at least for me) to run hard. When the dieting goes out the window, I have the energy to push it harder and get faster.

  3. Hola!! Que tal? How’s it going? I am glad I found your blog today and look forward to reading more 🙂

    I have been a runner my whole life and love to hear stories of how people came to the sport. I think a lot of people do it for multiple reasons. I mean, I run because I race and want to get faster etc. But I also know that if I didn’t run- I would gain a fair amount of weight because of my diet (this has happened in the past). So I don;t think it really matters the reasons- just that you enjoy running… or rather just that you run 🙂

    I like the little Mexican lottery cards at the top of your page. I spent the last 6 months in Mexico- I miss it! 🙂

  4. Chiming in to say I think WW is a great program. I like that people don’t have to give up certain food groups (I think giving up carbs, sugar, etc won’t help people in the long run) the points system is super simple, too. I don’t think diets/healthy living should be about chucking “bad” foods, I think they should be about eating what we like in moderation.

    My office has a WW support group, and I know it has helped some of my colleagues lose and manage their weights.

  5. I don’t think it matters *how* you became a runner or what your motivation is, what matters is that you’re a runner NOW and you love it.
    I really don’t know know why I became a runner in the first place, although vanity probably had a lot to do with it. And I had some runner friends who I thought were cool. Now I really do enjoy running, the challenge, the reward of racing well, the sense of accomplishment in doing something really hard. The beer in the bathtub afterward…
    Sweaty Kid said in a post a while back: “the race is the reward.” and that made me feel all giddy with happiness.
    I’m rambling. Anyway, I get you.

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