Losing Weight: Getting Started

Switching to a healthier lifestyle is a big leap - five runners reveal how they took their first few steps.


Posted: 21 December 2010
by Dominique Brady

The start of a new year always heralds a rush of resolutions to lose weight and get fit. Make sticking to your goals easier with tips on getting started and staying motivated from five weight-loss runners who lost up to a whopping twenty stone altogether - and kept it off - using a combination of running and a healthy diet.

Sticking to a weight loss goal isn't easy but with perseverance you can succeed. Researchers at the University of Hertfordshire in a year's study of 3,000 people who set resolutions found only 28 per cent succeeded in losing weight and 29 per cent improved their fitness. Be part of the determined minority and switch to a healthier lifestyle today.

Weight-loss trigger

Deciding to lose weight can be prompted by many different factors - seeing unflattering photographs, health worries or being inspired by someone you know shedding the pounds.

"I was asked if I was pregnant again, I wasn't!" explains Icclesuez. Despite the initial humiliation of the comment, it inspired her to join a weight loss class and tackle her weight gain. Two years on, she runs regularly and has lost six stone gradually - sticking to an achievable weight loss of 1-2 pounds a week.

Health worries can also be a useful trigger to change lifestyle choices. After being diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) three years ago, Desi R was advised to lose weight - she initially tried and then failed. However, the beginning of this year prompted a change of attitude. "I decided I needed to sort out my life - starting with my diet and fitness," she says. Over the last nine months she has shed five stone.

The weight-loss wake-up call varies from person to person - but remembering your main motivation and why it matters to you can help keep you on track, especially when temptation strikes.

Setting goals

Breaking down your main aims into smaller achievable targets and rewarding yourself when you hit them are just two of the strategies for resolution success discovered by the University of Hertfordshire team.

If you have never run before, don't expect to be transformed into Paula Radcliffe overnight. However, by following a training schedule you can build up gradually and get a boost when your fitness improves each week.

"I had never even run for a bus before", says Icclesuez, 'But I followed a book on how to run. It was hard at first but having a plan to follow made it easier to stay motivated." Over 12 weeks Wray gradually built up to three continuous 30 minute running sessions a week. Copy Icclesuez's example and build up to a 5k using our beginner schedules.

If you already run, set yourself a more challenging target. Kirsten Lodge only ran occasionally but signing up to a half marathon and upping her training helped her lose 15 pounds over six months. Now that goal has been achieved she has already started training for the London Marathon!

Other methods of success identified by the Hertfordshire team included keeping a diary of your progress, focusing on future benefits and telling your friends and family about your goals. Remember no one is perfect - treat occasional lapses as a temporary setback and a reason to be more determined the next week.

Analyse this

Be prepared to consider why you haven't achieved your goals in the past. If you already exercise but can't seem to lose weight, then it might be time to look more closely at your diet.

Despite having already run for 18 years, Simon Lynch brought his weight down from 15.5 stone to 12 stone over a three-month period by increasing training and changing his diet. "I became much more critical about what I bought at the supermarket - I read the labels and bought healthy options," he explains.

Sports nutritionist Trevor Bedding warns runners can fail to lose weight for two reasons. "People will often treat themselves after exercise. They tell themselves they have burnt off lots of calories, then eat calorie rich foods which exceed calories lost through exercise," he explains. Another mistake is that runners cut down on their food intake too much and slow their metabolism, so the body goes into starvation mode and clings to its fat stores. Find out how many calories a day you should be consuming using our handy equation.  

Keeping a food diary is an excellent way to monitor what you eat.  "Keep this with you at all times and record every single thing you eat for at least a week.  You can then analyse this and see where you may be going wrong. But remember that running does build muscle.  If may be that you weigh more on the scales but your clothes feel loser," advises Shona Wilkinson, Nutritionist at The Nutri Centre (www.nutricentre.com). Also try measuring yourself before you take up your exercise regime and then measure yourself on a weekly basis. You might not be losing dramatic amounts of weight but you might be toning up instead.

The Prize

Once you start losing weight and feeling fit, it will be much easier to stick to your lifestyle change. Phil Sanders ran occasionally but then changed his diet and training regime to train for a marathon - and lost five stone over three years.  "Initially the real motivation came from seeing consistent weight loss results and feeling so much fitter," he says.


Previous article
Calculate Your Calorie Needs
Next article
Fat or Fiction? Why You Should Be Wary Of Your BMI

 
TwitterStumbleUponFacebookDiggRedditGoogle

Discuss this article

nice to see a stick thin person being used in an article abnout losing weight.....

how about some slightly larger runner examples? or people with bulges around the gut as I have now!  There are lots of us around.
Posted: 30/12/2010 at 10:20


http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/uploads/images/Medium/4226.jpg


What do you mean? I wouldn't touch that great big enormous fat bitch with yours, i only want women who are under 5st...
Posted: 30/12/2010 at 11:17

Had a sickness bug 2 weeks ago and lost my 'double chin' and 'belly'. I know thats no help, but I'm quite pleased My appetite still hasn't come fully back !

Its also 'kick started' my dieting again.


Posted: 30/12/2010 at 11:53

Seriously I try and target a 2lb a week weight loss too.
Posted: 30/12/2010 at 11:55

We'd love you to add a comment! Please login or take half a minute to register as a free member

Smart Coach
Free, fully-personalized training plans, designed to suit your racing goals and your lifestyle.