Monday, October 15, 2012

Running and Weight Loss

You might think that running and weight loss would go hand-in-hand.  Well, yes and no.  I guess I should preface this by clarifying "at least for me" - but I figure you know that, seeing as I pretty much write from my experiences without any supporting clinical data (because that would involve reading numbers, and you KNOW how I feel about numbers).  Anyway...I recently noticed that I'm looking a little smaller - more compact, if you will.  As you know, I stopped weighing myself over a year ago, so it's not like I have an exact number to do a comparison with, but things are definitely changing for the better.

The one thing I noticed two years ago when I was doing my half marathon training was that while I actually gained about five pounds, my body was the smallest it had ever been.  Running made me much more solid.  A lot of the jiggle was gone; I look at pictures from fall 2010 and marvel at how small I was (and yes, want to retroactively slap myself for STILL being dissatisfied with how I looked):
  
Here's a blast from the past - return of the closet mirror self-portraits!

Cut to 2011, or my 'Annus Horribilis' (stolen from the Queen - I'm sure she won't mind)...the year of angst, no running, and coconut M&M's.  Let's just forget about all of that as things have improved greatly on all accounts. 

I was able to start running again this year, and while I've not been actively dieting, I have been making decent food choices most of the time - this is just how I eat, day in and day out.  I hoped that the running would get my body to start shrinking again...while I've come to better terms with the fact that my legs are always going to be on the sturdy side, and my stomach will never be tight and flat, I preferred the body of 2010 a little more than the body of 2011.  Finally, it's starting to happen.  I noticed about a month ago that my clothes were getting a little looser, and some of my running shirts were getting really long - at first, I was all "I swear it wasn't this long when I bought it" but then I realized "dur - you're getting smaller so the shirt seems bigger" - ah ha!  Then in the past couple of weeks, a few people have commented that I'm losing weight, so obviously it's starting to show.  That said, if you're looking for a quick weight loss, I don't think running is the answer...but if you're willing to be patient, it will happen over time.

Except for when I first hit the 5 mile mark, my appetite has not increased on my long run days - in fact, as I'm hitting the higher mileage, it's decreased.  I guess it's the whole thing about most of your blood going where it's needed (the legs) and not the stomach - or at least, that's the lore going around our running group.  On long run Saturdays, I don't worry about what I eat beyond trying to get in some protein shortly after the run (usually in the form of chocolate milk because it's portable and we're still hanging around the park), and I don't try to replace the calories I've burned either.  I figure I burn about 100 calories per mile.

What I think is funny about losing weight while training for a half marathon is that I'm doing it while eating traditionally non-diet food like white pasta and rice, mashed potatoes, no veggies in the days leading up to Saturday, not a lot of salads, and I'm even drinking my calories - something I don't normally do - in the form of Gatorade...the real stuff, not even the low calorie drink (it tastes bad to me).  While I know for a fact that it's very easy to outeat any exercise benefits, I seem to be managing my portion sizes well enough that I'm not doing that.

Again, I don't care about the number on the scale, and I'm not about to jump on it to see what it is, because no matter what, it would just disappoint me.  I am thrilled to see that running on a regular basis, week in and week out, is changing my body shape once again for the better.  Along with the fun of running, I'm getting a smaller body, too - what a nice reward!

31 comments:

  1. yes Ive been hitting refresh and waiting for your monday musings.
    Im woman enough to admit that :-)
    I love your POV on running because I see us as so very alike.
    and, with a potential move on my horizon, IM THINKING about running a race in my new city.
    it we move :0)

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    1. A race would be a great way to get to know a new city!

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  2. Since I started running I hardly lost weight, at the start I did a little but now: no. This is because I don't diet and don't particular watch my foods.

    And maybe I shouldn't say this but I think all this watching your food, eating this not that, protein shakes, bars or whatever while training for a half marathon or shorter distance is overreacted. I don't think you have to eat differently while training for a half or shorter. If you just eat healthy that's enough. I never did that while training for a half and I still don't.

    In my opinion you do what works for you. For you and me that's no eating before the run and it works for us. And like you I'm not hungry at all after a run and it's difficult for me to eat or drink something afterwards. I know they tell you you should eat within an hour but I just can't and I just don't want to. And it doesn't mean I start craving later that day, I just don't need or want food right after a workout.

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    1. ...and having the confidence to DO what works for you, even if it's not always what the experts recommend, is key, too. :)

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  3. I think a lot of people start running hoping for big weight loss and probably do get some at first simply because of the change in workout intensity. After a while though the body settles in and what you get more of is toning. So you look more compact even if the scale (which I know you're not using) isn't showing it.

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    1. I'll take the mirror and clothing over that dastardly scale ANY day...

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  4. You are one of the mentally healthiest ex-dieters I know. I like when you write like this. I can get a little glimpse into "the mind of Shelley" and learn from you!

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    1. ...says the woman who watched me eat TWO French macaroons! ;)

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  5. That's awesome Shelley! Woop! I agree that the number on the scale doesn't reflect the shape of our bodies. I gained 10 pounds when I started field hockey in college, because we had a ton of strength training, yet I was a size smaller than I was 10 pounds lighter.

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    1. I never would have believed this to be true had it not happened to me. So cool what exercise does for our bodies, not to mention our psyches.

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  6. Shelley, you are inspiring. It's not the number on the scale, its how you feel!!! I am standing and clapping for you and this post.

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  7. There's nothing in the world like that "tight" feeling you get from running. I know what you mean! I'm so happy you're feeling great!!!!

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  8. I started running partially because I read enough weight loss blogs of miracle lbs gone due to running. I didn't lose any weight by just running. I actually attribute mine to a decent meal plan and lots and lots of Turbokick.

    I moved to Sacramento last year and didn't know a soul, so I joined a running group - Oxymoron since running is hypothetically a solo sport, right? Wrong. I've met some really great women, a few I'm lucky to call friends. To heck with the weight loss on that venture.

    Now, I'm back in Houston training for my first half and gaining weight. So I have to figure out why. All my labs are normal, what's not is the late evening food (especially chips, guac, salsa and a rita! damn Tex-Mex).

    So thank you for putting your perspective on it.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, LaShaune - I hope to see you in San Antonio on race day!

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  9. When I was injured and did nothing for 6 mos, I didn't gain weight. Now that I am running again, I've gained 5 lbs - go figure!

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    1. But you look great! That 5 lbs must be all muscle. :)

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  10. I don't think running ever helped me lose weight, it just made me run better LOL! And biking doesn't do that either, like I said yesterday about 2000 miles and not losing weight. Exercise has so many other benefits that do not include weight loss.

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    1. Yep. No matter what, diet is the main key to weight loss. Exercise can help, but it won't get the weight gone w/o eating right.

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  11. Wow, I can't believe you've gone so long without weighing yourself! I think the curiosity would get to me, though admittedly, the last time I stopped weighing myself was when I was getting up to my top weight, so it was for completely different reasons.

    Anyway, I totally relate to what you said about maybe weighing more on the scale, but being smaller. My lightest weight as an adult has been 170, and I was wearing a size 10/12 then. I got there by just doing Weight Watchers, with no exercise. I'm now at 190 and wearing the same size as I was while 20 pounds lighter! That still blows my mind. And that's why I don't care as much about the number on the scale, though I'm not yet to a point where I could stop weighing myself all together.

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    1. That is awesome - bet you feel so much fitter now than at the lower weight. Amazing what muscle tone does for us, eh?

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  12. Just checking, I didn't get any comments on my new post from people that usually comment. I see in your blogroll that it didn't update. Saw on Lori's blog my comment luv doesn't work. Going to figure out what is going on :)

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  13. Hi...new reader here. I love this post. I love how real you are about life. I have been contemplating the idea of giving up the scale and focusing on other forms of motivation. I have lost over 100 pounds TWICE in my life, and put it back on. Well, this recent time I have put back on 80. In a relatively short amount of time. I think how I feel and the now-too-small clothes in my closet need to speak to me more than any numbers on the scale. Thanks for the inspiration. Your pictures look amazing. You've made a great transformation, and it looks like you have done really well keeping up with the healthy lifestyle. Anyway, thanks for the inspiration!

    Good luck on your half marathon!

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    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Suzanne! The no scale thing has worked for me - why not give it a try...after all, what have you got to lose? ;)

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  14. Doing good!!
    Rachel wants to do the End of the World half marathon. Have you guys signed up? She read that there is a 9 hour cut off point! Wow.

    Glad you're back to running and enjoying it and getting the benefits from it too.

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    1. We will probably not do that race unless we get a wild hair...doing loops on a dirt road doesn't sound great (and if it's been raining, a muddy road at that). I love their website and humor about it, but just not sure about that location. We'll see...

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  15. I love the way you monitor and observe your weight in such a sensible way. I want to be as healthy and committed as you when I grow up.

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  16. Yeah Shelley!! I'm glad you are feeling better in your clothes - and glad you are running again!

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