Why Weight Loss Doesn’t Matter

I tried, and failed, to start running consistently many times before it finally stuck. When I did eventually get into a pattern of running, I refused to call myself a runner for a very long time, thinking that using the label would cause me to rest on my laurels, and I would stop.

Every time in the past that I would fail to continue running it was because I was doing it for the wrong reason: someone else thought I should or I was trying to lose weight. I want to talk about the latter one today.

It turns out you really can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet. And because I never lost weight – or I should say, as much weight as I thought I should – I would give up running after a few weeks of effort. I wouldn’t doubt that running could eventually lead to weight loss, when coupled with the right diet, I just figured that was way too much energy to expend in the name of a bikini body. Plus, I really really liked eating (still do!). I mean, this is basically my life:

Kat’s motto

So the running would stop, and I’d be back to square one. (Sidenote: this is why my favourite mantra is If you are tired of starting over, stop giving up)

So here is my beef: running should not ever be intrinsically tied to weight loss, and so much of the running industry does this. It is wrong.

I want to be clear in this. If you want to run as part of a safe and healthy weight lost plan, that is fantastic. Seriously, good for you. But too much of the industry and the messaging around it equates “Run to lose weight” as “Why you should run”.

This is dangerous; it forgets and sidelines the main reason you should  be running: because you like it. If this is the only reason you have, it is enough.

Constant reinforcement on magazine covers and email blasts telling would-be runners “Run Yourself Slim” or “Run Into Your Bikini Body This Summer!” only serves to perpetuate the mentality that if you are not losing weight, you are doing it wrong. And when runners who are not losing weight (through a variety of completely unrelated means) read these headlines, it creates a defeatist attitude. It’s what made me stop running so many times.

So this is my wish: to see the running industry talk more about running for the sheer joy of it and talk less about weight loss. Perhaps in doing so, more people would remain engaged in the sport longer and ultimately, become healthier. Whose with me?