Running from Food

Learning to have a healthy relationship with food through the joy of running.

Monday Musings: The “Secret” to Weight Loss

There are a lot of great blogs out there. I spent a good chunk of my weekend email subscribing to a bunch of them, meaning my inbox is really full this morning. Great reading, great motivation.

One of my favorite new blogs is Pavement Runner. A recent post brought back a flood of memories, in which he talks about all the odd and slightly patronizing questions runners get from non runners.

“What are you running from?”

“How can you stand running for that long? I get so bored.”

“How long is a half marathon? Like 5 miles?”

Those are some of the more frequent ones I’ve gotten over my short running life.

As I was reading that post, thinking back over the past four years and my running/weight-loss journey, I realized this applies to weight loss as well.

“You’re not eating dessert? Are you on atkins?”

“Don’t you think you’ve lost enough weight?”

“Are you always at the gym?”

But, without a doubt, the most common question I got after losing 65 pounds was, “Wow, you’ve lost a lot of weight. What’s your secret??”

Secret. We’re so obsessed with secrets. Why? Because we’re obsessed with quick fixes, get-rich-quick schemes, the easy way out.

I finally came up with a standard answer for this one. “I do have a secret. You want me to tell you?”

Then their eyes would light up and they’d get this excited look on their face and kind of lean in a little bit.

Then I would whisper “The secret is….there is no secret.”

Now, I had a couple people who got slightly offended at this answer. It’s a bit of a flippant answer, but also, it’s very true at the same time.


Thinking there is is exactly what keeps us from reaching our goals, and also letting our goals slip back out of our grasp once we’ve achieved them. That was my problem. I thought once I hit my goal weight, I could go back to the life I’d always lived, instead of continuing down the path that got me there.

The reality is that there’s no secret to real, lasting weight loss.

The last few days have been a little frustrating for me. After visiting my local Anytime Fitness branch and not being able to get in (and the help line being of no help…shocker), I finally looked at my bank statements and realized I haven’t been charged in the last two months. What gives? I though gyms slobbered all over my kind of people, the ones who let you automatically withdraw from their checking account but never actually set foot in the gym??

So I’m almost a week into my new life, and I haven’t been to the gym once. I made it out to play basketball on Thursday night, which was nice, but I’m itching to get into the gym and start Couch-to-5k.

Friday night found me in a restaurant, which is always a scary proposition. But I was pretty proud of my portion control. I stayed under my daily calories by almost 100.

Then I threw that all in the garbage with a trip to another restaurant the next day, where I told myself at the beginning of the meal this was going to be my “cheat meal” for the week, then proceeded to mentally check out and eat more than my daily allowance of calories in one sitting.

I learned a lesson: I’m not mentally ready for “cheat” meals. Perhaps the whole “cheat” concept isn’t really a great one anyway.

So, goals for this week are:

  • No “cheat” meals
  • Get the gym thing figured out Monday
  • Do Week 1 of C25k

Here’s to a great week! Post a comment below and let me know what your health/fitness/running goals are this week.


Week 1 Weigh-In: Measured Success

Friday is my weigh-in day. It’s always been a day that works good for me. It allows me to “cheat” a little on the weekend, and have Monday through Thursday (which have always been my most disciplined days) to make up for it.

This week was a little unusual, as it wasn’t a full week. Technically, I started on New Year’s Day.

Week 1 Results

Starting weight: 244.5

Ending weight: 238.5

Weight loss this week: 6 pounds

Total weight loss: 6 pounds

Am I happy? Of course I am.

But I’ve also been down this road before.

I guarantee most, if not all of that, is water weight. I drank a ton of soda over the holidays. I mean literally, probably almost a ton.

Between that and some binge eating that went on over the holidays, my initial weigh-in was a bit elevated. Not by much, because I had been weighing in consistently between 242 and 245 for the past month or so.

Still, I’m giving myself a small pat on the back this morning, then getting back to work. My goal is to be down to 236 by next Friday, and if you’ve ever watched the Biggest Loser, you know that Week 2 can be the toughest…it’s true, I’ve been through it myself.

The bottom line? It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

And this isn’t even the first half mile. Have to stay focused, have to stay hungry (a different kind of hungry).

Tonight is dinner out with some friends, so this will be the first real test of my willpower when it comes to food.

The plan? Order what I want to order, but eat about a quarter of what I would usually eat. And eat 100% “clean” on Saturday and Sunday.

How about you? How did you do with your fitness goals this week? Any successes or struggles you want to share? Leave a comment and tell me about them!

What’s in a Name? Behind “Running from Food”

I’m a food addict.

There, I said it. It’s out there. We’re all on the same page.

I don’t mean that flippantly. Because it’s not flippant to me. I really am addicted to food. Not just in a “I crave a slice of pizza all the time” or “I order the jumbo popcorn at the movie theater every single time I go” way.

I remember once I was watching what is still my all time favorite TV series, West Wing.

Leo McGarry from West Wing

If you’re familiar with the show, you know that one of them main characters, Leo McGarry, the President’s Chief of Staff, is an alcoholic. Someone asks him during a very dramatic scene why he’s an alcoholic. She asks him how he could risk his reputation, his job, his family, his whole life, just for one drink.

His response floored me.

My brain does indeed work differently. That famous saying about not being able to eat just one chip? They got that from me.

I don’t understand how someone can limit themselves to just one chip. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want to eat and eat and have that wonderful, mesmerizing flavor racing through your mouth until there’s literally nothing left to eat.

McGarry says later, “I like the little things. The way a glass feels in your hand, a good glass – thick, with a heavy base. I love the sound an ice cube makes when you drop it from just the right height. Too high, and it will chip when you drop it. Chip the ice and it will melt too fast in the Scotch.”

The little things. I love the din of a crowded restaurant, the way a polite person waits on your every need as you pick and choose from a menu of food options, all right there at your fingertips. I love the mixture of socializing and eating, of watching a funny or scary or dramatic movie and eating, of being with people you just enjoy being around and laughing over your favorite delicious meal. I love how the holidays and delicious, delectable food are always intertwined, the memories of running in the door on Thanksgiving morning after playing flag football and being hit with a wall of delicious aromas.

I’m addicted to food.

I Googled “food addiction” a while back. Here’s a sample of what I found:

I Googled “food addiction” the other day and, frankly, I was embarrassed by what I read, because it described me to a T:

  • Being obsessed and/or preoccupied with food.
  • Having a lack of self-control when it comes to food.
  • Having a compulsion about food in which eating results in a cycle of bing eating despite negative consequences.
  • Remembering a sense of pleasure and/or comfort with food and being unable to stop using food to create a sense of pleasure and comfort.
  • Having a need to eat which results in a physical craving.

All of those describe me at one point or another in my life.

Except when I finally got control. One period in my life where I actually managed to get control over my addiction.

It was when I discovered running, and how it made me feel empowered. How it made me feel in control over my body, like I was the one in charge, not my appetite anymore. I was in control of my body, my mind and my spirit for the first time in my life. It was only then that I was able to fully, really, truly recognize my addiction and that it was a problem I had to be conscious about and fight against every day. Running helped open my eyes, helped me see more clearly, and ultimately helped me get to the point where I actually viewed food not as entertainment, or a warm blanket, or a comfort, but as FUEL.

That…now that was empowering.

And then I let it slip away.

It’s time for me to start running from food again. I have to, or it will take me over. It’s time to start putting food back in its proper perspective, or it will continue to rule my life. It’s time to remember that overwhelming, heart-pumping, mind-numbing sense of absolute joy and pride I felt when I crossed over the finish line of my first half marathon.

That’s why I’m here. And that’s where I’m going.

Here We Go Again

I’m really great at starting things.

Finishing? Not so much.

Seems I’ve been that way pretty much my whole life. Have grand ambitions to do something great, then I abandon my plans out of laziness, fear, lack of desire, you name it. I guess I’m no different from most people in that regard. There’s a reason why Weight Watchers and gyms spend the majority of their marketing budget at the beginning of the year. Everyone’s hopping on the New Year’s Resolution bandwagon.

But this year, it ain’t no bandwagon. This is for real. Three years ago, I started something and finally finished it. I trained for and ran my first half marathon, and lost 65 pounds in the process. I changed myself and my relationship with food. I felt like a new person.

Last Rays of Light

Then, over the course of the next three years, I slowly allowed that old, unmotivated, undisciplined, lazy person back in. And I gained all the weight back.

Every. Last. Pound.

No more. It’s time to get back on the horse. 2013 is going to be one of the hardest years ever, but it’s also going to be one of the most rewarding.

Here’s where you can follow my progress. My successes, my failures. My triumphs and frustrations. Writing has always been a catharsis for me, a way to organize the jumbled information in my brain into concrete motivation to counter act the little voice at the back of my brain telling me it’s not worth it, that it would just be easier to give up and live a life of ease and mediocrity.

So here we sit. It’s January 1, 2013. Over the course of the next 8 months, I’ll be on a mission: to get down to my goal weight of 177 pounds and run the Pocatello Half Marathon in under 1 hour, 50 minutes and set a new personal record.

It certainly won’t be easy. But it’s gonna be a wild ride.

So here we go. All over again.

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