If you're overweight, you can lose your excess fat and improve your appearance as long as you're willing to devote time and energy to your goal. Developing a runner's body requires adding exercise to a weight-loss program. A healthy dose of realism also helps keep you on track. Losing weight and starting a running program will get you in the best shape possible, but it won't change your basic body shape.
Stay realistic when setting weight-loss and exercise goals. Only around 20 percent of people who start diet and exercise programs maintain their weight loss for one year, according to a Brown Medical School Report published in the July 2005 "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition." To end up in the 20 percent who do achieve success, set sensible long-term goals. Plan on losing no more than 2 pounds per week; losing faster can increase your risk of developing nutritional deficiencies as well as gallbladder problems or gout.
Designing Your Diet
Eating right is incredibly simple -- on paper. Choose lean meats, fresh vegetables and fruits, healthy fats such as olive oil and eliminate empty sugar calories. It's harder to follow a diet plan in real life. Everyone has different trigger foods -- foods you can't stop eating once you start. Identify yours and avoid them. But do leave room in your diet plan for an occasional treat. To lose 1 pound per week, you need to cut 3,500 calories from your weekly intake, or 500 calories per day. Keep track of what you normally eat for one week to get a good idea of your daily intake.
Planning an Exercise Program
Diet alone won't create a runner's body. You need exercise to firm up flabby muscles. Investing in a personal trainer or enrolling in a structured diet and exercise program might help you meet your goals. A Texas A&M University study reported in the June 2011 issue of the "Journal of the American Dietetic Association" found that obese women enrolled in supervised diet and exercise programs lost more weight and fat mass than those who simply got pep talks. You can start a running program even if you're overweight. See your doctor first to get the OK on starting an exercise routine. Buy good running shoes, start slow, with walking if necessary, and build up to running three to four times a week.
Tracking Your Progress
It's easy to track your weight loss and statistics with online programs or with just a notebook. Take pictures of yourself each week for a graphic record of how your body is changing as you lose weight and exercise. This can provide encouragement to keep going on days when you don't feel any nearer to your goal of having a runner's body.
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Long-term Weight Loss Maintenance
- ACSM: Finding Your Ideal Running Form
- Journal of the American Dietetic Association: A Structured Diet and Exercise Program Promotes Favorable Changes in Weight Loss, Body Composition, and Weight Maintenance
- Loma Linda University: Lose Weight Gradually, Improve Health Permanently
- ACSM: Selecting and Effectively Using Running Shoes