“…for the rest of us, losing weight feels literally impossible.”

Body Image and Runners

I believe that the absolute most difficult topic confronting the dedicated runner is body image. Okay, maybe “the trots” ranks right up there as well, but go with me on this!

First, let’s define our population. Who are we talking about?  There are two major classes of runners. The first class is the “always athletic,” who have never had a BMI above their calculated height and weight recommendation. The second class of runners are those attempting to lose weight. I’m talking about the latter.

The Struggle is Universal

Weight loss is difficult for everyone, with the exception of those gifted with “the 20s.” Anyone between 18 and 30 can drop weight with the most minimal of effort. After that, metabolism becomes the enemy, requiring a significant degree of sweat and tears to get the job done.

Oh, and let’s not forget the “Biggest Loser” category. Through a boot camp style program with specialized attention from a personal trainer, these guys restrict their diet to 800 calories a day and hit the gym 7 days a week.  Do they lose weight?  Yes!  However, “Biggest Losers” quickly discover that for every 10 pounds they take off, they gain at least that back after burning out from the regiment.

My Own Journey

I started my weight loss journey more than 40 lbs ago. It has taken me more than a year and a half to drop that weight. I easily have another 30lbs to go. I lose about two pounds, give or take, each month. Sound daunting?

When I started, I was in denial about how truly fat I was. Interestingly enough, some part of me knew I was in trouble. When passing by a mirror or walking down the street with window reflections shouting out at me, I always put my head down, unable to look up at myself.  As I have lost the weight, my self-hatred has dissipated. I hope that does not sound dramatic, but hate is a good word describing where my head space was at the time.

The change required to drop weight is more than most are prepared for.  Learning to fight through discouragement is the most difficult battle waged.  I have learned several lessons while on my weight loss path that I want to share”

  1. The goal is not to lose weight.  Embrace a “Body Positive” approach.  Treat weight loss as a nice side effect to lifestyle transformation.
  2. Weight is only one measure of improved health.  Your friends will remark on your new grin and glow.  Focus on that!
  3. The scale is not your friend.  Stay off of it.  Instead, measure the change in clothing sizes and reserve a weigh-in for only once every three months.
  4. A vegan diet helps, but not like most proclaim. Become vegan for deeper reasons.  Weight loss can happen, as little or a lot as it may be.  Plant-based living is a lifestyle choice that goes well beyond yourself.
  5. Be willing to put in the pavement time, A LOT of pavement time. Your body quickly adapts to your new exercise routine. It is natural to lose a bunch at first and then stabilize, finding it extremely difficult to take another five off.
  6. Cross training is key. I do not mean cross training simply to work new muscle groups in an effort to boost metabolism. Cross training should focus on activities you really enjoy!  For example, add a paddle boarding day, play tennis, or get yourself out on the golf course. Your new lifestyle is all about movement, not constantly seeking a personal best on that next 10k.
  7. Change is always better when done with friends. Two people on the same path is double the motivation when one is feeling discouraged. When both are feeling discouraged, join a group. There is always at least one keener in the crowd.

There are countless lessons that could be added to this list.  In fact, you have likely created an informal list of your own.  I believe time is on your side.  You simply have to allow for it.  Lifestyle change is not an event.  It is a never ending path to becoming the person you already are, but simply unrealized.

Seven Lessons Regarding Runner’s Body Image and Weight Loss was last modified: September 21st, 2017 by Jerod Killick