Combat The Fat

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1. WALK AND RUN
Remember: miles are miles, as far as your belly's concerned. "Coming back from injury last year, I needed a plan to stop me piling on weight," says James Smith from Hemel Hempstead. "I stopped taking the bus and started walking to work and back instead. I was getting in six miles a day without even trying. The weight dropped off. It's the perfect way to clear your head before and after the office. And knowing every session doesn't have to be an all-out lung-buster is great for motivation. I always start my runs with a walk until I feel mentally prepared to pick up the pace, and if I don't feel like it, I just walk and enjoy it for what it is."

2. FAT IS YOUR FRIEND
"Certain 'diet' foods backfire because they leave you feeling unsatisfied, so you eat twice the amount," says Gina Kerr from the North West Triathlon Club in Londonderry. "After years of trying – and failing – with 'diet' foods, I removed low-fat products from my diet, which were more often than not loaded with sugar, and focused on healthier fats, such as monounsaturates, dairy and fish oils. I'll have a full-fat yoghurt in the morning, which keeps me satisfied until lunchtime. I've also cut out fruit from my diet in favour of loads of veg – fruit was too sweet for me and made me crave sweets. I've lost 24 pounds over the past year, so something has to be right."

3. FACE THE FACTS
"I decided to shock myself into losing the two spare stones I gained after my second child was born," says Helen Newton, member of the Black Pear Joggers in Worcester. "I pinned graphs and charts of my weight and body fat in the kitchen alongside photos of me before and after. Every time I reached for a biscuit I was reminded of the consequences of my actions. It also meant that I got comments on how well I was doing from people who came round the house – if I got none, I knew I was slipping. It also spurred my husband into stumping up £100 for every stone I lost to go towards a new wardrobe. Basically, get everyone involved and make it the main priority in your life."

4. MIX IT UP
The big mistake I made was thinking running held all the answers," explains Tom O'Shea from Cirencester. "But two years ago I injured my Achilles and was forced to take some time out. I went to the gym and did some weights work – I didn't put on one pound and my body fat actually went down, with not one bit of cardio. When I returned to running, I continued going to the gym twice a week to do a 60-minute circuit of low-weight high-rep full-body moves, such as squats, lunges and presses, and have lost almost three stone. Not only do your muscles keep burning calories even after you've finished working out, but full-body moves actually strengthen the stabilising muscles around the joints that let so many runners down."

5. GET WET
"I found that drinking water made a huge difference with controlling hunger pangs," says Himesh Gohil from Harrow. "Constantly sipping made me feel less hungry – I still eat as much as I want to, but I get fuller quicker, and don't snack so much. I always have a bottle with me. It's actually become a bit of a talking point among my friends and colleagues. I clock between two and three litres a day. It also gives me added energy. The best part is that it's not part of some faddish diet, so it's something I've kept up even after I've hit my target weight."

6. TELL THE TRUTH
The first rule about weight loss is to be true to yourself. "If snack foods are your weakness, don't buy them – it really is that simple," says Lorna Gold, a member of the Centurion Running Club in Birmingham. "People kid themselves into making excuses that crisps are for the kids' lunchboxes, or those chocolate biscuits are for their spouse's tea, when in reality it's for them. If you take temptation out of the equation you soon realise how quickly you don't need these things. And be realistic about how many extra calories you need because of your running habit – a mile only burns around 100 calories, about the same as a glass of orange juice."

7. FUEL UP
As the saying goes, breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and dinner like a pauper. "In July last year I weighed in at close to 17 stone. I was eating too many treats and justifying that by skipping breakfast," says James McNeill, from Wallasey on the Wirral. "I was upping my mileage, but running on empty meant I never really enjoyed it and never reached the intensity where it would have an obvious impact on my weight. Now, I have a breakfast of porridge, toast and poached eggs every morning, a large jacket potato or pasta for lunch, and a piece of lean meat with salad for dinner. I've lost over two stone now, and I'm enjoying my running more than ever."

8. TAKE 10 PER CENT
Small steps can lead to big changes. "One day I just decided I'd increase my mileage by 10 per cent each week and see what happened," says Clare Brotherton from York. "It doesn't sound like much, but the extra calorie-burn accumulates faster than you think, and it wasn't so daunting a prospect – especially as I was starting on just 20 miles a week. Once I reached 50, I didn't have the time to do any more, so I started incorporating hills – it's worth remembering that running on a five per cent incline burns 50 per cent more calories than running on a flat surface. I also threw in some intense fartlek sessions. Whatever session I did, I was absolutely spent by the end."

9. ANALYSE THIS
Controlling what you eat can be half the battle. "Ready meals are nearly always loaded with extra sugar, salt and fat to add flavour to what are pretty bad-quality basic ingredients," says Karl Andrews from Fife. "I was running a fair bit, but I was eating too much processed junk, so the extra weight I was carrying just wouldn't shift. I started to analyse what I was eating and took a real interest in cooking. I started using the Collins Gem Calorie Counter when going round the supermarket, sought out food at farmers' markets and kept a detailed food diary – seeing it in black and white really helps you understand where the problems are."

10. TREAT YOURSELF
Understand that it’s OK to have the occasional treat. "If you’re running regularly, you deserve it," says Lina Martino from Tipton Harriers in Stoke. "The reason why diets fail is because they're based on deprivation, and once you give in to that craving with one biscuit, you think 'Sod it' and demolish the whole packet. Focus on the foods you can eat rather than those you can't. The more you tell yourself you can’t have something, the more you crave it. The key is to experiment and find foods you like that are healthy. I love bowls of breakfast cereal, whereas others love toast – stick with those, but find healthy versions, such as wholemeal toast, or cereal without all the sugar in."