I’m a diet dropout, but I still dropped 10 pounds and at least one dress size. I’m tucking in blouses and shirts and picking pretty belt buckles.
How did that happen?
Seriously, I have tried dozens of diets over the years. I’ve been on low-carb, high-protein, low fiber, high fiber, low-fat, and other popular weight loss regimens. I’ve counted calories and weighed portions. I’ve done the shakes, the skinny frozen meals, and the peer group check-ins.
These options seem to work well for many people, but they didn’t help me a whit. In fact, they mostly made me focus on food. Frankly, I found that pretty counterproductive, from a weight-loss standpoint.
So I started running for my life.
Here’s the secret. The average person burns approximately 100 calories per mile, either jogging or running. Some exercise experts suggest walking consumes about the same amount, even if it takes a little longer.
The math is simple.
If I run three miles a day, five times a week, that’s 15 miles. That means 1,500 calories. A pound of body weight equals about 3,500 calories.
At that rate, if I do not alter my eating habits at all, either up or down, I should burn up a pound of body weight every two to three weeks. If I run farther, the results improve even more.
Sure, I may face plateaus. The body’s metabolism may vary. My eating habits may change sometimes. But overall, this plan puts me in a pretty good spot.
Here’s a bonus.
Running not only burns calories, but it improves overall fitness. It’s great for heart and lung health. It tones the body remarkably, particularly long-term.
And now, instead of munching carbs on the couch, I’m signing up for 10Ks and half marathons and browsing through a smaller size range in store garment racks.
Running isn’t for everybody.
Clearly, some people have health restrictions that may prevent them from pounding the pavement or tromping through trails. But any exercise counts.
I was never a fitness fanatic. In fact, several years ago, I was diagnosed with a chronic condition that makes exercise particularly challenging and often debilitates those living with it.
But I’m starting to understand where avid exercisers gain their gusto. The natural endorphins from running aren’t bad, either.
Here’s a caveat.
We generally aim for healthy food choices in our home. I routinely buy skim milk and choose low-fat options, whenever it is possible.
Still, we have baked chips, cookies, and crackers around. I still make sandwiches and rolled-up wraps for lunch. Sometimes we even splurge on ice cream or snack-sized candy bars. But we try not to overdo it.
Hey, now I know how far I have to run – just to work off that stuff.
Now I carry a calorie budget in my brain. Running makes me mindful of the effort it takes to maintain where I want to be, from a fitness and body weight perspective. Every mile jogs my memory of smart and poor food choices.
And, at least for me, that is a much more powerful motivation than a group weigh-in, a calorie journal, or a freezer full of portion-controlled meals.
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