7 In fitness/ running

Starting to exercise – don’ t make weight loss your top goal

Rummy Quarry, Estonia

Everyone likes the idea of being fit but a lot of people genuinely don’t know how to get  there. Many know that they need to lose some excess weight but every time they start to exercise they give up after a little while because it’s hard and the weight doesn’t shift very fast and they think that maybe the extra kilos don’t bother them THAT much…

I think one of the biggest mistakes people make in their mindsets when they decide to get fit is that they make weight loss their primary goal.

I have personally done that more times than I can remember. “From January 1st I will watch what I eat and walk 5km a day and lose 10kg.” or “When the holiday is over I’m going to be vegetarian for a month and lose all the extra holiday weight.” And so on.

There’s nothing wrong with keeping an eye on your weight but staring at it with both eyes at all times and not seeing anything else fitness might offer you that might be much more fulfilling than seeing a smaller number on the scales??

The thing is that having weight loss as your main or only fitness goal tends to not teach you much about fitness, health, happiness or the FUN of moving your body. All you’re doing is punishing yourself for the calories you’ve consumed. I know all about counting the calories on a stair master in order to “undo” all the 5 giant chocolate chip cookies I ate an hour before.  That had nothing to do with fitness, it was soul crushing and I ate 5 more the next day.

After 6 or 7 years of yo-yoing weight and feeling completely and utterly frustrated with myself due to my lack of willpower to keep the weight off, I moved to a different country, started cycling daily, started thinking about calories less and less, and just enjoyed riding my bike.

More than 15 years later I exercise daily for a million reasons other than burning calories, the main ones being that I’ve found a lot of activities that are fun for me and the fitness I’ve gained as a result means I can happily and comfortably live in the body I have.

So if you’re thinking about, for example, starting to run, which is a very efficient and enjoyable way to control your weight (if you start sensibly and don’t push yourself too hard in the beginning) – instead of verbalising your goal as “I need to start running in order to lose weight”, have a time or a distance goal instead.

Go out for a run, walk for 10 minutes (I always used to have to walk at least 10 minutes before I was ready to run) and then slowly start to plod along and see how long you can go until you need a walking break again.

Add to that little by little every week and the progress you’ll see and feel will be MUCH more empowering than stepping on the scales every week and seeing that you’ve lost a 100 grams (or some weeks – no grams at all).

And those runs that you don’t make any progress compared to the last time – they are totally normal. Speed and distance do not just increase with every session, every journey is an up and down kind of a thing. The ‘downs’ are just as important in your journey as the ups.

Any extra weight you have will most likely come off. Not rapidly, but just like with learning to run, there is no rush – rushing and running faster than your body is ready for can only cause you pain and frustration and injuries.

I found that once I started running my diet slowly and gradually became a lot healthier without me having to make resolutions or promises or follow strict rules written down by somebody else.  Some things just do not help my running so that is why I am mostly gluten/sugar/dairy free these days. My digestion and my blood sugar levels are happy like that.

If you focus on adding good things to your life, the bad things will just be crowded out gradually and you never need another New Year’s Resolution like “I will stop eating X, Y, Z” ever again.

Focus on the fun and the fitness – you will learn a lot about yourself and about your body, and any extra weight you have will eventually take care of itself. Just note that we all have different bodies and different bodies are happy at different weights – listen to yours and don’t aim for somebody else’s body type 😀

Weight loss is complicated but simple at the same time. If you have specific questions, let me know.

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  • Reply
    August 29, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Great post. I wanted you to know that I’ve been reading your blog a while and love the posts about climbing, crossfire etc. when the opportunity came to do a taster session with my son at a climbing wall I jumped at the chance! I felt a bit giddy but loved it and now looking for opportunities to continue with it. Thank you

    • Reply
      August 30, 2015 at 6:53 pm

      That is so great to hear! I got into bouldering thanks to my kids as well – they tried it at Centre Parcs and wanted to continue with it, I got sick of just sitting in the cafe at the climbing centre waiting for them so I started to climb myself 🙂

  • Reply
    August 27, 2015 at 11:02 am

    I completely agree with this, having weight loss as a primary goal is so de motivating and hard to maintain. I’ve accepted that when I marathon train I usually put on weight but I’m happy with that as weight isn’t the reason I’m doing it. Do regular exercise and all the other perks with follow 🙂

  • Reply
    August 27, 2015 at 10:01 am

    Brilliant post! I stopped weighing myself about 6 months ago and just look to the mirror. I enjoy my Cossfit and tennis trainings and concentrating to get fitter and stronger, weight just follows 🙂 I do weigh myself occasionally, just out of interest, when I see difference how I look. It’s interesting to find out what does it means in numbers 🙂 To stick with the training you definitely have to find something you actually enjoying doing.

  • Reply
    August 27, 2015 at 9:01 am

    I’ve found that in the last 3 and a half years, I’ve finally settled down to a happy weight because I gave up worrying about it! Post uni, corporate life took its toll and weight/size just stressed me out for years, despite some fairly sizeable sporting achievements – and maybe it is now the complete lack of forced caring that has worked…which I NEVER expected to happen (also, everyone is asking my secret, and they don’t believe me that it has actually involved a serious amount of wine and chocolate buttons…)

    Great post and I hope that it gets people thinking about the fun side of things 🙂

  • Reply
    August 26, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    Awesome post. Such a great approach and wise words

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