Spryliving.com editor Lisa Delaney is one of the rare souls who know what it’s like to be an “after.” This journalist and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl shed 70 pounds—and six dress sizes—and has kept it off for 20 years.
DEAR FFG: A few years ago, I became determined to take better care of myself. At 5’10”, I was 340 pounds at that time. I now weigh 257—which is GREAT! I take a water aerobics class four times a week, which most of my friends make fun of. So I decided to see what all the fuss was about this so-called “real” exercise, and started a learn-to-run program. Today is my third day of a 13-week program that promises to have me running for 50 minutes straight, and I have to say, running STINKS!!! I am sure that my views will change as I invest more time into it, but with an extra 100 pounds or so on my frame, it is not so much fun. I would love your advice on how to keep my resolve strong during these grueling workouts! —Cherie
DEAR CHERIE: WOW! You’ve dropped almost 100 pounds—such a great accomplishment! I know you have a ways to go, but you’ve got to stop and give yourself props for what you’ve achieved to date. One of the problems when we’re trying to lose is that we don’t give ourselves enough credit for the progress we’ve made. We tend to look at the people around us who are fitter and thinner and running instead of water-aerobicizing (!) and judge ourselves for not measuring up. So my first piece of advice is to, once a week, pull out something that reminds you of your life at 340 pounds—photos, a piece of clothing maybe. Use that as a reminder of where you’ve been, and contrast that with your exercise log for the week, or the pair of skinnier jeans you’re now fitting into. That should help fuel your workouts and make running a bit more tolerable. I admire your adventurous spirit in taking up running, something that I did as well during my journey to Former Fat Girlhood. But here’s the thing: An off-the-shelf training program isn’t necessarily going to serve the needs of everyone. The promise that you will be running for 50 minutes straight in 13 weeks is reasonable, but you HAVE to take into account how you feel as you work through that program. I don’t know what program you’re using, but most reputable trainers do tell you to be cautious in ramping up your distance and/or intensity. For instance, you may need to stick with the Week 1 plan for a couple of weeks to build a base before moving up to Week 2. I would actually suggest that. An over-cautious approach isn’t going to hurt you, and it may help you avoid overuse injuries. The fact is, running puts tremendous stress on your joints—and carrying excess weight multiplies that stress, putting you at increased risk for injury. I don’t want to discourage you—I just want to help you avoid an injury that could really set you back. If you have any questions or doubts about your ability to run, talk to your doctor. As for keeping your resolve—running/walking to music can help; computer and phone aps like MapMyRun (MapMyRun.com) can give you a boost by tracking your progress; a buddy will keep you going by sharing your struggles and triumphs.