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Learn to love running

April 6 2019
Jacqui Hawkins
By Jacqui Hawkins

In the final of this week’s series of posts marking the beginning of national Move More Month, we get that Friday fitness feeling with mom-of-two Mary Watkins. Here’s how healthy eating and taking up running supercharged her 110½lb* weight loss, plus four great reasons to give it a try.

Learn to love running

“I’d always hated running. It brought back memories of being forced to do it at school, when I always felt like my lungs were going to explode. So no one was more surprised than me when I found myself lacing up my sneakers for an evening run. Why was I about to put myself through this?

In my heart I knew why. Earlier that month I’d watched my son, Freddie, then four, running up a grassy slope with my sister racing after him. Trailing behind, I wished I had more energy. I’d recently joined Slimming World weighing almost 240lbs, and while I’d lost 14lbs already, I still had a way to go and got out of breath easily. Inspired by Slimming World’s get-started activity program, Body Magic, I’d been walking Freddie and his younger brother, Walter, to and from preschool, so once school was out for summer vacation, I needed to find another way to get active. That’s when I decided to try running when Dafydd was at home and the boys were in bed.

I’m not going to pretend I enjoyed that first run. I got to about 400m, then stopped, my lungs bursting. I paused, took some breaths, then tried again. And again. Until somehow I made it around the block. A few days later, I had another go, and the fourth time I went out, I made it around without stopping. Then a few months in, I’d lost so much weight that my size-14 leggings fell down and I had to run all the way home holding them up!

Soon, I wasn’t running to support my weight loss any more, I was running because I enjoyed it. It was “my” time and it made me feel free. And eventually, it became “us” time, too. Freddie had started elementary school and they were hosting a mud run, so I entered us both and we started going for little runs together. On the day, my husband, Dafydd, and the boys were all there, roaring encouragement as I crossed the finish line, amazed at what I’d just achieved—I was the second fastest of all the women!

As I received my medal, I remembered a quote another Slimming World member had shared: “Losing weight isn’t about becoming someone new, it’s about becoming the person you were always meant to be.” To me, that’s so true. I’d thought I might never be fit enough to run around with my kids—let alone lose 110lbs and come second in a race. It’s opened my mind to giving more experiences a try in the future. You never know what amazing things you might discover about yourself…just like I learnt that my body loves to run!”

4 benefits we could all get from running

A confidence boost
From that first-ever run to smashing a 5K, running is a great way to take on a new challenge—and that’s a fast track to soaring self-esteem all round.

A health kick
Any exercise that gets you breathing faster helps to protect you from heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. According to one study, running just a modest amount—around 51 minutes a week (which works out at about seven minutes a day) —is linked to a lower risk of death from heart disease.

A mood lift
In the short term, there’s the runner’s high—a flood of endorphins and endocannabinoids, chemicals that can make you feel happier. In the longer term, being a regular exerciser may help to prevent depression, a major review in The American Journal of Psychiatry showed.

A lifestyle fit
Why wrestle with class timetables, gym memberships, or special workout gear when you can just lace up and run? It’s the ideal exercise if you’re on a budget, busy, or find it difficult to commit to a schedule.

 

Inspired? You’ll find lots more support and inspiration on our website, helping you to make real, lasting changes and lose weight for life.

 

If you’re planning to start a new exercise program, it’s always a good idea to check with your health care provider first—especially if you have an existing health condition, such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

*Your weight loss will vary according to your individual circumstances and the amount you have to lose.