What’s Your Reason?

There are a ton of reasons to lose weight: health concerns, preventing disease, the desire to achieve fitness goals, vanity. It doesn’t really matter what the reason is, as long as it’s something that can motivate you to strive for success. It’s funny how those reasons can evolve and change, it’s strange how my mentality changed once I became a runner.

When I was 250 pounds I set achievable weight loss goals for myself…

  • I wanted to lose 50 pounds by my brother’s wedding. 8 months later I was 199 a week before I walked down the isle.
  • Then I wanted to lose another 25 pounds. I did it.
  • I hung around several plateaus and FINALLY achieved my goal weight: 150 pounds.
Andy's Wedding

I’ve written about it before…how that Elusive Goal Weight tends to change. It can change many time too! I’m not talking about changing goal weights now…what I’m talking about is a shift in priorities.

My reasons behind losing 100+ pounds were:

  1. Health and disease prevention. (I was developing diabetes.)
  2. Vanity and improving my self-esteem. (I was tired of being The Fat Girl.)

I achieved my weight loss goals and successfully prevented diabetes and a whole mess of other issues I was having. When I was training for Reach the Beach and Hood To Coast, I realized that my reason behind losing weight wasn’t vanity anymore. For once, I had a “higher cause” for losing weight: improving my running and cycling abilities. Instead of focusing on the numbers on the scale, I was focusing on other numbers: fitness numbers.

You may think that 5 or 10 pounds does not make much of a difference in terms of fitness abilities but you’d be wrong. Losing even 5 pounds for a runner can increase speed AND decrease injuries by a huge amount.

If you have any doubts, check out this article about Tour de France. “Any excess weight such as body fat will only slow them down.” Lance Armstrong counts his calories, weighs and measures his food and follows a strict diet when he’s training for those mountain climbs in Tour de France. Even 5 pounds extra will add time. Not good when you’re competing against cyclists who are smaller, thinner and younger!

Runner’s World shared a pretty nifty guide on how to increase your time.

WEIGHT LOST
5K
10K
HALF-MARATHON
MARATHON
2 lbs
12.4 secs
25 secs
52 secs
1:45
5 lbs
31 secs
1:02
2:11
4:22
10 lbs
1:02
2:04
4:22
8:44
20 lbs
2:04
4:08
8:44
17:28

Losing 5 pounds will shave almost 5 minutes off your marathon time! When I was running 3-4 times a week in preparation for Hood to Coast I had a hunger that was insatiable. I ate so much food…but I also burned tons of calories. My body also wasn’t losing weight during my training. Losing weight while training for a running event is near impossible. I’m sure many of you can attest to that.

What I found interesting in the article was this quote:

“…while excess muscle on a cyclist’s upper body is dead weight, it’s vital in other sports. So, if you like to run, swim or play team sports as well as cycle, don’t lose weight by just losing muscle mass, or you’ll notice a decline in your performance. Similarly, if you lose too much body fat, your health will be affected.”

Basically with cycling, you want your muscles in the lower body–which is a no-brainer since the leg muscles are what drive your body forward. It never even occurred to me that my big swimmer’s shoulders could be a downside for cycling…Regardless, swimming is here to stay for me because I love it.

But when it comes to cycling, I’ve noticed that my performance has improved with a few simple things. The first thing that has helped has been weight lifting. Losing body fat is always a good thing. The squats and lunges I’ve been doing to strengthen my lower body has made my recovery time fast.

Another thing that has improved my performance is the core work I’ve been doing.  Having a strong core is essential to cycling because when you’re hunched over a road bike for long hours that can lead to back pain. Having a strong core prevents back pain from happening.

The reason can change, motivations can evolve as training and years go by. Being flexible to those changes is what keeps things interesting.

QUESTION: What’s your reason? Has it changed since you first started losing weight?