Avoid the Most Common Weight Loss Mistakes With These 4 Strategies
It’s easy to get caught up with the number on the scale, but here’s why you shouldn’t.
In 2011, Allie Kieffer ran a 4:40.9 mile and placed third in the USA Track & Field Indoor Championships 3,000-meter event. She was fast. But she wanted to be faster. “We often hear that to run faster, you should lose weight,” Kieffer says. At 17 percent body fat, the now 32-year-old was already lean, but “everyone seemed leaner than me.” So, as she made the jump to the elite scene, Kieffer began cutting calories and fat. She lost 10 pounds and qualified for the upcoming Olympic Trials. She also developed a stress reaction in her tibia. Not only did running hurt, but “I spent hours a day tracking what I ate,” she remembers. “I’d lie in bed at night, hungry. Dieting basically ruined running for me.” The injury prevented her from competing in the 2012 Olympic Trials, and Kieffer didn’t run competitively again for nearly three years.
The elite runner is not alone in using running and calorie-cutting to shed pounds. Among new runners, weight loss is second only to exercise as a motivator for lacing up, according to Running USA’s 2017 National Runner Survey. But dieting doesn’t always make the best running buddy. “People think they need to restrict a large number of calories to lose weight, but if you’re doing that while running, you’re burning the candle at both ends,” says Tavierney Rogan, M.S., R.D., a certified specialist in sports dietetics and Head of Nutrition at SHIFT. Possible fallout includes injury, burnout, and bingeing.
But when approached with a healthy mindset, weight loss is a totally reasonable endeavor. Here’s how to side-step the biggest weight loss mistakes people tend to make and use healthier strategies to lose weight and maintain the joy of running.