The problems arise about six to eight weeks later when you start to realise that despite three fairly vigorous, gruelling and, above all, boring 45-minute running sessions a week (and boy is running gruelling and boring) you have not lost a single ounce of fat. It is quite likely, in fact, that after all
that running you may have put on weight. Quite a bit of weight. It is at this point you either tear up your gym membership, cursing the person who gave it to you, or you turn to someone like me and say, ‘My doctor has told me I need to lose one stone. How much do I have to run to do that?’ The short answer is – an awful lot.
The long answer is that it will vary from person to person, according to their age, height and body type. However, we can make certain reasonable generalisations. To lose 1kg per week you need to be at a calorie deficit of about 1,000 calories a day which you should do via diet and exercise. If you are only going to use running to create this deficit, then you are going to run for two hours or more a day to burn 1,000 calories. Since there are just under 6.5kg in a stone (6.35kg for the weight nerds) that means running for two hours, at a fair pace, for about a month-and-a-half. That’s a lot of running. Far more than I do, and I am quite good at it.
So now you begin to see why those three sessions at the gym did less than nothing. Even more annoyingly, all that running may be counterproductive to your goals. Distance running encourages the body to reserve fat cells for fuel.
running encourages the body to reserve fat cells for fuel. It also makes you ravenously hungry, so you’ll be eating more. In reality, you’ll fare better with low intensity walking and weight lifting for more metabolic
stimulus. As a general rule don’t focus on ‘exercising’ more. Focus on moving more throughout your day.
But an even bigger rule governs all this. You can’t out-train a lousy diet. Despite what the food industry likes to claim, you cannot run, lift or jump your way to a healthy size, much less a perfect body. It’s all about diet folks. Not dieting, which is a rubbish idea, but changing your diet, which means changing your attitude to food. So here are 13 easy tips to help you change the way you think about food…
Don’t give up anything
Eat all the foods you enjoy—but the key is to do it in moderation, says Elisa Zied, RDN, who has lost and kept off more than 30lbs since her highest weight in high school. In fact, she says it’s the number one change she made that’s helped her maintain her smaller frame. ‘I didn’t want to feel deprived as I had in previous attempts to lose weight,’ she says. The worst thing you can do is be too strict, then rebound by overeating because you’re not satisfied.
Forget calorie counting
Ditch the habit and instead focus on good-for-you foods, says Frank Lipman, MD, integrative and functional medicine physician, founder of Eleven Eleven Wellness Centre and author of The New Health Rules. Instead of how many calories, ask yourself where the food came from and if it’s nutritious. ‘Healthy, and tasty nutrient-rich foods will keep hunger at bay, help maintain stable blood sugar levels, minimise cravings, and help your brain signal your belly when you’re full,’ he says. In other words, you don’t have to go through all the trouble of counting.
Don’t eat boring food
Nutritionists are always saying to eat more vegetables, so cook them in a way which takes them from ho-hum to yum.
‘I even think steamed veggies can be very boring,’ says Ilyse Schapiro, a greater New York city-area registered dietitian. Always incorporate high-flavour add-ons to jazz up vegetables, like sautéing with olive oil and garlic, or spraying them with olive oil before throwing them in an oven with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. That way, you don’t equate ‘healthy’ with ‘tasteless’.
are you really hungry?
No? ‘Then food is not the answer,’ says A-list trainer Dalton Wong, whose clients include the, ahem, The Hunger Games’ Jennifer Lawrence, and Kit Harington from Game of Thrones. Shaking your bum, however, is. ‘Dancing for three minutes will activate your happy hormone serotonin and give you a bigger energy boost than sugar, too.’ Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off is three minutes 39 seconds, in case you were wondering.
Luxuriate in every delicious moment, and you’ll enjoy your food even more. ‘Plate up a portion and take care to chew each mouthful – about 15 times should do it,’ says Dalton. It’s a slow process for a reason: you’re buying time to enjoy your food properly, and for leptin, the ‘I’m full’ hormone, to kick in. When it does, you won’t want to overeat.
Don’t weigh yourself
If you go to a class, weigh yourself there rather than at home. Weighing yourself everyday – and I know some people do several times a day – is madness. It is misleading, unrealistic and really unhelpful.
Seriously, plan your week’s meals then prepare your shopping list. If you don’t you will be thinking all day ‘what shall we have tonight?’ and food will be too much on your mind. If you know what you are having, and you have the ingredients, you don’t have to think about it at all until you start cooking.
Don’t even let it be an option. Providing you know what you are having later, and it’s something which you like, look forward to a good helping of that and then tell your brain to tell your stomach it has to wait!
When you are hungry, eat mindfully
‘Eating with all of your senses makes you appreciate your food 100 per cent, so you’re less likely to overdo it,’ says Dalton. Eat with no distractions, and go all Mary Berry: admire the light sponge, inhale the fragrance and lose yourself in the creamy icing melting across the roof of your mouth. As Cartman says, ‘SWEEEET’.
Eat more protein throughout the day
Protein helps to keep you fuller, longer and your body takes more energy (calories) to digest it compared to the sugars and fats in junk food. When you’re fuller throughout the day, you’ll find you crave high-calorie foods less often. Sources can include animal protein – chicken, lean cuts and ground beef, turkey, eggs, low to no fat dairy such as cottage cheese, cheese, and Greek yoghurt; plant protein – tofu, nuts, seeds; protein supplements – whey, soy, egg.
Eat more fibrous carbs
The fibre helps provide bulk in your intestines, helping you eat smaller meals. It also helps regulate blood sugar spikes
which cause a ‘crash’ feeling (a huge drop in blood sugar). This crash usually makes people look for high-calorie foods to get their blood sugar back to normal levels fast. The easiest source is junk food. Eat your fruits, vegetables and whole grains to regulate blood sugar levels.
It helps you to feel fuller more quickly and will effectively aid your weight-loss or weight-maintenance progress. Dehydration is one cause of snacking and weight gain. Along with drinking more water, eat and use less salt in all meals. A high sodium diet will cause an increase in appetite. And drink water. Fizzy drink, fruit juices and, yes, sadly booze (and that does include white wine ladies), are easy ways to pile on the pounds.
I love skipping. It is fun and tough and integral to any serious work out. According to the British Rope Skipping Association, 10 minutes of skipping can have the same health benefits as a 45-minute run (but then you know what I think about running).
Skipping is a full-body workout which uses your abdominals to stabilise the body, legs for jumping, shoulders and arms for turning the rope. And it’s hard. Try doing just a minute.