I want to run. So badly. And I get to do it from time to time, but I need to send out a PSA for a lot of people that might be seriously overweight and think that running is your savior.
It is. But it is not. You will succeed, but ultimately fail.
Let me explain. Most “diet” experts have not really actually lost SERIOUS weight. Maybe they lost 30 pounds on Nutrisystem. Maybe 40 pounds on Weight Watchers. But if you want to lose over 100 pounds, you need to put down a lot of the books and read below. This is free advice. You may not take it, but at least absorb it and understand it.
I was an athlete most of my life. Looking back on it, I must have been some sort of freak of nature. I was pretty good at baseball, tennis, and really sucked at wrestling. I loved running and biking. But when you’re fat, you’re supposed to sit on the couch and do nothing but eat 10,000 calories a day. When I had dreams, I was thin in my dreams, and wake up to someone else’s body. Because I didn’t stuff pies and donuts in my face, I did not identify with you. I was attracted to traditionally “gorgeous” women – just because I had a lot of extra weight did not mean I suddenly was attracted to someone with size. I thought because I exercised a lot, I was special and different than you. Your problem was you didn’t move. My problem was (insert my reason here).
What I learned after a lot of failure is you cannot exercise yourself thin by running. I have, at times, lost a LOT of weight from running. But when you looked under the hood, there was some sort of starvation, gimmick diet, 800 calories in a day, etc – followed with hundreds of hours of exercise. But all people saw was that I still wasn’t “thin”.
One time, I had just taken off 40 pounds. I went to a party at a bar with my fraternity brothers, and a guy I hadn’t seen in a few years was wasted and started having some sort of intervention with me at 1AM and pled for me to lose the weight. Start exercising. Stop eating. I had come there feeling great at my recent accomplishment, I had left there feeling once again inadequate and….well…it hurt. People mean well, but they rarely give two fucks about your efforts – it’s only the results they seem to care about. Also..I get it. My old friend had no idea that the night before I had just run a few miles, and while I was trying to explain to him I was dieting currently and taking a night off to be happy and hang out with them, the message just didn’t sink in. Many years later, I had lost a lot of weight and gained more back…then lost, then gained.
What I can tell you is all of that weight loss, for the most part, was grueling hours running…usually followed with some sort of gimmick diet.
So I’m here to tell you to consider some other ways of losing weight…and to put less hours into running.
Time after time, I’d run…lose weight….have calorie deficits…then when I stopped running and eat “normal”, the weight would just pile back on me.
The fallacy in the dieting and running argument is that you end up destroying your metabolism in the process. Basal Metabolic Rate is the thing that will become your friend. And you’ve been taking a baseball bat to it.
Let me guess. You’ve run for a few weeks/months, you’re taking off 5 pounds+ per week, and you think I just did things wrong. Well, chief, how many times have you done the running thing, to lose weight, only to have it come back on? This is why I’m trying to talk to you a little today about strength training.
Your BMR is the amount of calories your body will burn a day just doing normal functions. Breathing, eating, thinking, etc. Mine is somewhere in the 2700 range at the moment. Muscle burns more than fat, by a lot.
One pound is equal to 3500 calories.
The thought is, if you create a deficit, of, perhaps 1500 calories a day, you can then burn a pound in almost 2 days! Then, let me run for an hour….and I can do it even faster!!!
2700 BMR + 600 running = 3300 burned in a day
1200 calories in = 2100 deficit in a day
= 14700 deficit in a week = 4.2 pounds!!
The above sounds great! There’s only one problem that’s not overtly apparent to you or me. The funny thing is, is that our bodies do not pick and choose to burn the fat first. The fat is like emergency reserves. It’s there for starvation purposes. It’s like an emergency slush fund. So when you are running…running…running. You take off 40 pounds. But a funny thing happens when you lose weight this quickly. Your body is eating a lot of the muscles you have to get that energy, not fat. Your body then starts to realize that you are expending a lot of energy and not taking any in. So your body then starts sending tired signals. Your body stops repairing itself. Your BMR with all of your muscle starts getting lowered.
Now, your BMR might be 2000. You injure yourself because your body has not been repairing itself like it should.
You then return to eating “normal” at around 2000-2300 calories. Your body is now needing extra calories to repair itself. You start eating more. Soon, your BMR is at 2000 and you’re taking in 2400. And in a few months, you’re back to where you started.
I recognized this problem several years back, but my issue was then – how to burn the fat and keep the muscle? The answer was “reasonable” weight loss.
Until you can be ok with losing 1-2 pounds per week, you will always be fat. To try and lose more, you run into the issue above with burning muscle.
The secret is “threading the needle” with creating a reasonable deficit between calories in and BMR – while making efforts to add muscle in the process.
For example, my “diet” is 2400 calories with a BMR of 2700. This is creating a deficit of about 300 per day, or 2100 per week. So if I do nothing except eat 2100 calories, I will lose 2/3 of a pound per week.
My trainer told me, “we will create the deficit in the gym”. What I’ve been doing, therefore, is working pretty hard in the gym 1-2 days a week and eating (mostly) healthy to continue to add muscle while melting off fat. To do this, I’ve also needed to feed my body adequate calories to fuel itself and also provide my body enough protein and water to repair muscle and perform proper cellular functions. One HUUUUGE problem I’ve had for decades is chronic dehydration. When adding a LOT of water to my day, I feel amazing, and the water is needed to break down fats into energy. To add to the 1-2 days in the gym (where I work a lot of different muscle groups), I also try to put in 6,000-10,000 steps in a day, and I might run 1-2 times a week for 10-20 minutes because it feels good. I stopped the 45 minute runs three times a week many months ago after I injured my foot and had severe back spasms – which led me to a trainer in the first place.
So – in the last 6 months, I’ve kept my BMR at 2700-2800 while taking off nearly 53 pounds. However, what is of interest is when you look at the fancy scales and look at my progress, you see things like 70 pounds of fat loss, 10 pounds of muscle gain, 10 pounds of water gain. I’m giving examples here because while the scale is nice, it’s also prone to some errors with the calculations. So – it’s not like 20 pounds of fat loss, 10 pounds of muscle loss, and 20 pounds of muscle loss. I am, without a doubt, taking off a LOT of fat while adding water and muscle. I’m also losing a ridiculous amount of inches from everywhere on my body.
Look at a LOT of these pictures of people taking off 100+ pounds in a short time. They are taking a lot of muscle off of their frames as well. And you see a lot of “loose skin”. It’s still fat that’s remaining. The idea I’m working on is building a proper body below and gently taking off the fat and letting everything sort of meet in the middle.
My plan is to continue to work the 1-2 pounds per week while eating 2400 calories.
My ultimate goal is two phases:
- Hit between 210-220 and be pretty sizable with muscle. This is to trim a lot of the excess fats and to reduce my body fat percentage to 15-20%. This size is there to have a high BMR and burn fat and prevent the “loose skin” thing.
- Phase two is then over the next 3 years after that to take myself down to 170-175 by gradually reducing the muscle, reduce bone size, and BMI while keeping body fat percentage reasonable and trimmed just slightly. This is the “runner” physique, and why those bastards live to 125 years old. This is the area where I can then do my running/biking and will spend some less time with “weight training”.
The problem is, people like myself think they can just run themselves thin….but they are skipping over the whole BMR issue, and ultimately, that is the fallacy.
If you’re a woman…
If you’re a woman, your fallacy is thinking every man on the planet thinks 105 pounds at 5’7″ is “sexy”. This is about the most ridiculous thing ever. Any woman who is reading this, google “athletic female body”. The results you will see is pretty much biologically what men are drawn to. So, if you’re 5’6″, you can starve yourself into a size 4 at 120 pounds or you can wear the same size 4 at 145 pounds and rock an amazing body which also allows you to eat a lot more food. Your problems are:
- the number. You are somehow programmed that a certain weight is sexy. This is not true. See google images above.
- the size. You are told by the fashion industry you must have a size 0 or 2. This is insane. While some women are naturally this petite – see google images above.
So…you need to understand all of this applies to you as well. You do NOT have to eat 800 calories a day and run 10 miles a week to get “healthy”. You need to talk to a trainer, get some protein in you, hit the gym once or twice a week, and eat reasonably and you will be fine in due time. Make a stronger body….don’t starve yourselves.
I’m not “on a diet”….I am learning to eat “properly” with calories, macros, etc. The weight just keeps coming off, without running 10 miles a week like I used to have to do. The below dinner would be perhaps two or three times the calories if eaten out at Maggiano’s. Why? I skipped the whole fat cheese, the frying in olive oil, the egg, the flour, the lots of breadcrumbs, and used the bare minimum sauce.
Occasionally, I still do some things that aren’t “diet-like”. Last night, going into dinner, I was 1400 calories under. I had a hankering for chicken parm. Haven’t had it in forever.
Look at the above. I hit the trainer yesterday morning, had a protein shake afterwards, then made myself a three egg sandwich for lunch.
The above dinner clocked in at:
1,230 calories (121 g of carbs, 25.5g fat, 128.5g protein)
Warning – This was a LOT of food. I ate the shit out of it, and instantly regretted it. I then took the dog for a nice long walk, and felt amazing afterwards and didn’t think twice at it. Why?
My goal is 40% carbs, 30% protein, 30% fats. I was 50 calories under for the day and hit my macros.
I then took the equal portion that was leftover and put it into two containers for dinners at another time, each containing about a 600-700 calorie dinner. I figured I’ll eat one of them each week for the next two weeks, perhaps with a side of veggies to add more fiber and micro nutrients.
How did I make the above???
Servings: 4 (mine above is two servings)
- 8oz rigatoni uncooked (measured weight)
- Bertolli 5 cheese tomato sauce (24 oz container)
- About 2 pounds chicken breasts
- 5 oz Sargento reduced fat mozzarella cheese
- parmesan cheese
The chicken I bought was Purdue thin sliced chicken breasts, which come in 5, 1 pound bags. The bags weighed in at about 15oz each, with some liquid in there drained out. I measured this at about 28oz chicken total. I placed the 9 thin slices of chicken in a gallon freezer bag and added some breadcrumbs to create a dusting on the chicken. Bread crumbs can add a lot of calories, so be frugal with these. Fired them in the oven at 400 degrees on two cookie sheets lined with foil for 15 minutes. They are too thin to put a thermometer in. Meanwhile, place water on the stove to bring to a boil, add 1-2 tsp salt to the water to flavor the pasta, and place the sauce on the stove to heat up.
When the chicken is done, take it out and place in a glass or metal pan. Lay down 4 or so, add a few TBSP sauce to each, add a little mozzarella cheese, then place a second piece on top and repeat. Place back in the oven for another 3-5 minutes until the cheese melts. Drain pasta, combine with sauce, add some parmesan cheese to taste.
Take out chicken, plate with pasta.
Serves 4, with each serving about:
600-700 calories, 60g carbs, 13g fat, 60g protein.
On a last note, I will continue to say this: one of my friends told me that your gains in the gym start at the dinner table. The dinner above was really tasty, and I made it at home myself. All of the exercise I did yesterday, combined with the nutrition, may have contributed to some muscle gain and fat loss. Had I gone out to dinner with the wife at Maggiano’s, this would have added tons more calories, fats, carbs, and would have contributed to weight gain rather than fat loss. The same amount of exercise – would have been negated by going out rather than cooking it myself to reduce the calories.
Therefore, you can’t exercise yourself thin with running.
Use this one meal as an example of how you cannot run yourself thin – but adding protein and proper nutrition with your macros will continue to promote muscle gains and fat loss. For the women out there, you do not have to get “bulky” to gain muscle and be healthy, but you can get solid. I look around my JCC and see women who by no means are “light”, but are solid, athletic, and seem to take care of themselves well. I believe strength training without massive running is the key to dropping a LOT of weight in a healthy way, and I’m proving it week by week, month by month – on over 25 blog posts now.
You do not have to (and should not have to) eat 1200 calories a day and run 10-20 miles per week to lose weight. In fact, I’m the poster child for how that method works, but then fails, every….single…time.
I’m taking care of my body, building strength, building muscle, trimming fat….and eating a LOT of food in the process.