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why running may (not) make you skinny

Posted Jun 25 2010 7:03pm
these last 2 weeks, i haven't been able to run (two sprained ankles. long story.) so knowing this lack of movement would inevitably show up on the scale, i avoided such endeavours till i could boldly say "to heck with it i'm married". now here's the sick (yet jovial ) twist of fate:


i weigh 1lb (or .5 a kilo) less than when i was running.


which made me think of this article i saw in The Globe and Mail. the Canadian newspaper is featuring this super awesome series on running, and one of the super awesome articles is entitled,Why is running making me fat?


i.e. story of my life.


okay fine, running is not making me fat.  however, i haven't lost any weight either and i've been doing this - seriously -  for 4 years now . and when i took time off (injured hip. long story) for an entire year, i'm telling you, i didn't gain an ounce. henceforth, my weight is not dependant on physical activity, or lack thereof.


i see you shaking your head.


exercise is burning calories, you say? and burning calories causes a drop in poundage? ask any doctor/nutritionist/personal-trainer, you say? yeah - i would've thought so too. but there seems to be bigger factor to the battle of the bulge, bigger than running 25-30kms a week, and in my case, it's coated in dark chocolate.


as the article explains, many of us overestimate just how many calories we burn through exercise, thinking we've earned the right to eat whatever we want, and therefore - we do. we've worked hard and now deserve our Caramel Macchiato, damn it. (i know i do.) and before we can reach the end of the drive thru, we've consumed equal (or more) calories than what we actually used up. it doesn't take much.


take me for instance: on an average day, i'll run 8kms. according to the Runner's Worldcalorie calculator  , that'll cost me 490 calories.  not bad, i reckon. but if i come home, have a mini protein shake, then a vegetable stirfry from the Thai place across the street (say 250 calories. i don't eat rice) and follow it up with a few lollies (Australian for candy or chocolate) i've already neutralized those calories used. i've ended up even in the calories-out/calories-in equation.


but at least if i'm exercising, i'm burning off said lollies, right? well yeah, but when i'm not exercising, i don't eat nearly as many. i'm not as hungry, but even more so, i'm more conscious of the fact i don't deserve to. so i don't.


there was a study done on this. (read it inTIME. there's some good shizo in there.) i won't even attempt to summarize it all, but basically, it watched 464 overweight women who don't normally exercise. some were asked to workout with a personal trainer; some were told to maintain their usual physical-activity routine. all were asked not to change their diet. this went on for six months.


guess which group didn't lose weight.


so why run then?


because i LOVE IT.


obviously, for me it's not about losing weight. if that were my concern, i would've tried something new a long time ago. i run because i know it's good for my lungs, heart, digestion, whatever. but more importantly, i love the adrenaline and endorphins. i love that i physically cannot  worry while i'm running.  i love feeling like i've accomplished something, like i'm doing something maybe other people can't do, and that they're mad jealous as i rip past them on the sidewalk.


and -  i love that i can eat more.


what's your experience been? has running helped you lose weight?

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