The #1 most asked question that I get with coaching running (and the #1 reason people start running) is . . .

Will I lose weight?  or Hey, why am I not losing weight?

Sit tight.  Remember, I'm not a doctor.  I'm not a nutritionist.  I have a crazy weakness for Double Dave's pizza rolls.  And while I don't have "the answer of all answers" for this mammoth question, I can help.  I really can offer some advice on both of these.  So let's go . . . .

Weight Loss and Running

Oh boy.  This can of worms is like no other.  It's giant.  The weight loss industry is like more than forty billion dollars a year giant.  "Wonder if I can lose weight with running?" you may have asked 5+ weeks ago.  Yes!  You Can!  But maybe not like you'd expect. 

You are 2 or 3 or 4 weeks into this running gig and may not have lost a pound.  CRAP!  Easy now, take a deep breath.  Here's what's happening . . . . Remember how I'm constantly saying that your body is adjusting to running?  Well, it's adjusting like you wouldn't believe - body mass and weight included.  Your body is primal.  It's #1 job is to keep you alive.  If you stress it out (like through a new running routine), it's going to adjust with a larger (temporary added weight) blood volume to circulate during your new activity (this is good!).  It's going to hold on to fluid (temporary added weight) in case your body needs it to cool down or hydrate those muscles (and it's going to really really hold on to fluid if you are dehydrated).  Your muscles are breaking down and rebuilding into larger (heavier) masses of muscle tissue because your body wants to be ready for your next run.  Your body is saving you!  Thank you body! . . . . . But damn you scale!  And damn you too Father Time. 

Our scales may not be our bestest friend in this first phase of running, but I promise that your body is changing for the better.  You are expending and burning right around 1,500 calories a week with this new sport.  Awesome!  Don't sell yourself short with this calorie burn.  But with a pound calculating to about 3,500 calories, your new running sport is etching off a little less than a half a pound a week.  Patience, my friend.  Patience.  If you are just doing the math straight up, that is 2 pounds a month of weight loss.  But let's be smart about this. 

We all know that muscle weights more than fat.  And with running, we happen to be exercising and building the largest muscles in our bodies - gluteus (butt), quadraceps (front of legs) and hamstrings (back of legs).  This may transfer to a larger number on the scale, but this is okay!  Don't fall prey to the scale's sneaky tricks.  It's just a scale.  These newly formed muscles are demanding more calories to stay strong and hydrated and they are demanding this energy 24/7.  Your body is slowly transforming into an efficient, calorie burning body!  It may soon weigh less as unwanted fat exits your body, but your body weight may stay the same as more fat leaves but is substituted with wonderful muscle.  The muscle that makes our legs look great in skirts and our calves look super in heels :)

Hey, how's your eating?  Sigh.  This is the key to weight loss.  There, I said it.  You are not going to lose a nice amount of unwanted weight without a check on your nutritional intake.  Notice that I am purposely not saying "diet".  Dieting sucks.  It's a temporary misery followed by a temporary weight loss, because we all know that we are going to go off of that diet once we reach that goal weight - or go off that diet trying to reach that goal weight - and our weight is going to creep back up again.

You have to do BOTH - a check on your eating habits AND an exercise regimen to lose weight. 

1.)  If you just exercise and ignore your food intake, your body won't budge as much as you'd like because it is not being properly fueled and chances are, you are eating more than you think.  And our bodies can only exercise so much - the real caloric deficit comes with eating habits.

2.)  If you just cut a lot of calories without any accompanying exercise, your body will freak and basically says "Calling all fat cells!  Stay where you are!  There is famine in the land and we may starve!  (Apparently, your body goes back to Old Testament times :)  Muscle and tissue - you guys can leave because she's not exercising, but we need all of the fat to stay as an stored energy source so this body can stay alive next week.  Also, metabolism, slow down!  This body can't afford to expend any more energy than necessary!"  Your body has just put on the breaks with your new miserable diet and the second you have that piece of bread or glass of wine, it will join those stored fat cells.  Hey, don't crash diet or dip below 1,500 calories a day.  Your body will adjust to this newly starved state and will never let you eat normal again. 

And for heaven's sake, please please rethink your strategy if you are taking any diet pills not prescribed by a doctor.  Your heart and kidneys are saying terrible things about you behind your back.  These diet pills "work" because of the added (and very temporary) metabolism boost through an increased heart rate, but your kidneys are screaming as they filter out their byproducts.  Aren't you naturally increasing your metabolism through running and isn't your body going to stay with that metabolism because you've adapted naturally and slowly?  Ditch those diet pills.  They're not worth it at all. 

Your body is changing into a better machine.  Let it!  And be patient :)

I am no stranger to trying to change a bad habit or adopt a new lifestyle.  My advice is to adjust to eating habits just as gradually as you are adjusting to running.  Pick one or two things and see if you can stick to those.  Like instead of that second glass of wine, make some decaf coffee or tea.  Savings = 125 calories.  Or do you really really have to have that piece of bread at dinner?  Savings = 200 calories.  Are you really hungry for the kids leftover mac and cheese?  Put that pan in the sink with water immediately.  Savings = 300 calories.  What about that silly snack at 10 pm?  The best solution is not to buy it in the first place, but find something else to do away from the kitchen.  Savings = anywhere from 250 to "wow, I can't believe I just ate that" calories.  You'll actually feel lighter in the morning without that late night snack.  Don't put a halt to everything.  It's not doable for the long term.

The mathematical summary:  Burn 1,500 calories a week in running.  Cut out one or two unneeded snacks or mindless eating binges a day (or 5 out of 7 days a week) and you've got another 1,000 - 1,500 calories that your body isn't consuming per week.  Hey, those denser muscle fibers and your new hydration habits - give yourself 300 - 500 weekly calories you've just burned while you are sleeping.  That adds up to 3,500 calories.  Will the scale show it?  Eh, maybe.  Will your body show it?  Yes.  Yes.  Yes. 

Give your body time to balance out your water intake (Drink water!  It will not make you heavier.  It's how fat is able to exit our bodies!)  And give your body time to adjust to this new fabulous running habit.  Your fat loss will happen with this majorly efficient cardio sport and with your responsible eating habits.  


Want another permanent calorie burning tip?  Keep those muscles dense with strength training.  Running and weight training will change that body.  Twice a week for 30 minutes.  It's not the workout that will put you at that calorie burn, it's the aftermath of the workout.  The muscles that are rebuilding stronger while you sleep.  And a great side effect - you'll be a better runner!  I can help you with some basic strength training exercises and also point you in the right direction of a certified trainer if you choose that path. 


Breakfast.  Don't skip breakfast.  Eat within an hour of your feet hitting the floor.  A couple hundred calories is good.  Coffee with cream does not count as breakfast :)  Proteins will leave you more satisfied than straight carbs for breakfast and may save you a few calories of midmorning snacking later.  Breakfast tells your body that you mean business and that you aren't planning on starving today.  Your metabolism wakes up at breakfast.  Otherwise, it will stay on the couch and watch soap operas all day.

.  Hey, remember about hydration?  Go get some water.  It's a major key to performance and energy and yes, weight loss.

Fruit.  Packed with fiber to make you full and packed with water to keep you hydrated.  The vitamins and minerals in fruits are numerous and keep our system healthy.  Choose the version of the fruit that is closest to the vine or tree (ie - An apple is better than apple juice or apple sauce.  An orange is better than orange juice.)

Roasted Veggies.  Corn with some butter.  Asparagus with a little olive oil.  Carrots and squash.  These are easy to make and you can eat a ton of them and not be any worse for the wear.  They are packed with vitamins and the right carbs for our bodies. 

Whole Grains.  Bread, bagels, pasta.  Make sure they have "Whole" as the first word of the ingredient.  Your body uses more energy to digest these and they have a fiber content that makes you full.  It's worth the switch if you are still eating white bread or enriched wheat bread.  Go for the whole grain.  It's pretty easy to get used to and ridiculously easy to find in grocery stores.

Lean Meats.  Turkey and Chicken and Pork Tenderloin.  Yum.  These are all at HEB.  Already prepared and waiting for you :)  3 - 4 ounces with your meal.  It's the portion sizes that are killing us.  Make this change gradually too.  If you are used to eating 6 - 8 ounces of meat, tone it down by 1 or 2 ounces so that it doesn't feel like an "I can't eat this" diet.  Our muscles will love us for this. 

Fish.  Salmon and tilapia, etc. etc.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake at 400 for 10 minutes or less.  Eat with a yummy carb like pasta or rice.  Your heart is now super happy. 


My last bits of advice
1.)  Give yourself a break.  Don't be so critical of yourself.  I'm mad at myself for wasting so much time over the last 20 years worrying about the same 5 pounds.  I look at past pictures and think "I didn't look as bad or as fat as I thought I did."  No one care about those pounds more than you do.  So just enjoy exercise.  Enjoy eating.  If you are going to Wings n More, then get the chicken tenders and love those chicken tenders.  You're a runner.  You are allowed to eat fun stuff! 

2.)  Keep busy.  The times that I have been too busy to worry about weight, I've usually lost weight.  Find something to do.  Get out of the kitchen.  Stop being bored.  The refrigerator loves bored people.  Volunteer somewhere.  Teach someone to love to run. :)  Get a book.  Take up knitting.  Clean out a closet.  Watch TV in the bedroom far from the kitchen.

You are beautiful because you are a runner!  Let the magical journey begin!