Learn to love running
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.
“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.