Guest Post by: Steve Pfiester
Recently I was part of a very interesting fitness project (Fit to Fat to Fit on A&E) that had an extremely large impact on my life. This 8-month experiment would challenge how I viewed my clients as well as how I defined myself, my whole identity was in the balance.
With 10 other trainers from across the country, we were asked to stop working out and purposely gain as much weight as possible in under four months, and then try to shed the weight and regain our original level of fitness in the same amount of time.
At first, I was completely stoked to be able to eat everything I have denied myself (or limited) of for over 23 years – and get paid for it. I thought, “I must have died and gone to heaven!” NOT!
Lets just fast-forward 2 days. After just two days I wanted a salad really, really bad. I remember feeling like if I ate another piece of pizza that my belly would explode. Eventually, I did gain the weight that I promised the producers I would gain. In less than four months I went from 4% body fat to over 30%. I had gained over 45 pounds. Now it was time to lose it. So now what?
Time to Drop the Weight
My first day back in the gym, I reflexively went straight back to resistance training and all the things I do best. Correction. All the things I DID best (past tense). I quickly discovered there was no way was I able to pick up any of the weight I had lifted just four short months ago. Again, so now what?
How in the world was I going to get back in shape in less than four months without lifting weights? What became powerfully apparent was the focus for the first two months of getting fit again would have to be on weight loss. But, I stink at losing weight. I want to lift some iron. We all want to do what we are good at and avoid our weaknesses.
I began to make a plan to lose weight. The fastest and easiest way to lose weight would be to diet and increase my cardio. I did integrate some light resistance training throughout the week to maintain lean mass. As much as I enjoyed the resistance training, it was still not enough to truly focus on the type of extreme weight loss that we were looking for. I decided to put my nose to the grindstone and suck it up. I began to run.
Run Forest Run
With four years of education studying exercise and nutrition at FSU and a degree in physical therapy from Florida A&M, I am not short of understanding all the amazing health benefits running for weight loss can have on my body. However, knowing these benefits and employing them are definitely two different things. I just had to get over myself and remember what the fastest, safest and best way to shed this weight and get back in shape would be.
Running is low impact and it’s completely aerobic, which means I would be burning fat as a preferred fuel source. Running can also help ramp up my metabolism, especially if I start to employ some higher intervals as I get stronger, lighter and faster.
I love that running is convenient for me, because I hate going back to the gym just to burn calories. Two more perks to running would be buying new shoes (I am such a girl) and the fact that Bonnie would have to be my running partner whether she liked it or not.
I couldn’t even run at first. Remember, I was almost 50 pounds over weight and I haven’t exercises in over 4 months. What began as a walk shortly turned into a jog. The weight started to melt off and over the next few weeks I was able to walk and jog almost an entire mile without being Trauma Hawked to the nearest COPD clinic.
After a short while I found myself enjoying the time out pounding the pavement and clearing my head. It was right at 6 weeks that I realized I had already shed 45 pounds and I was actually running – not jogging, but running.
At some point running just clicked. I even ran a half marathon with my client from the show, Tasha Cruz. I had never run over six miles before, much less even considered running a half marathon. Talk about feeling fit! Not only was I losing weight, but I was getting in better shape.
Sure, I had good days and I had some bad days, but that didn’t detour me from sticking to the program. As my body fat decreased I began to focus more and more on the resistance exercises. I actually had to force myself to lift weights in lieu of running. Who was this guy and why would he rather run than pump iron.
When I run I feel clear, I feel healthy. Sometimes when I run, I have the confidence I can solve the worlds problems. And, other times, I just think about my sweet wife. Whatever the case may be I have never come back from a run that I regretted. Running was something that I had avoided for a very long time, but it proved very effective and very addictive in many ways.
If you are looking to lose weight and get in shape, I would seriously add walking or jogging to your fitness program to ramp up results. You might be surprised where it takes you! (pun intended)
6 Reasons to Start Running For Weight Loss
- It’s affordable. You don’t need anything but a little bit of real estate and a great pair of shoes.
- It’s flexible. Running fits anyone’s schedule. You don’t have to go to the gym or wait for a piece of equipment to be free. You can do it when it’s most convenient for you.
- It’s versatile. Running is no longer just running. Going for a run can mean anything from doing a walk/jog interval program, an easy jog or doing sprints. You can run up hill, down hill, on road, off road – you can even run with your dog. The intensity and pace depends on your fitness level and your goals.
- It’s always challenging. You can always work to run faster and better. Running apps and activity trackers can keep you working to improve.
- It’s measurable. As a trainer, I can easily know when someone is improving by just tracking their pace and distance. The lighter they get, the faster they tend to get too. The ability to measure progress is crucial to the whole weight loss process and one more feather in their cap for all their hard work.
- It works! Running burns a lot of calories and a lot of fat. Adding running to any fitness program, like a weight-training program, can help melt the fat away to uncover muscle and show off your great fit shape.