We all have very different experiences of food, weight loss, and running. I’ve talked on the Blokeology podcast about my own efforts to be careful about my diet, manage my own weight, and be mindful of how it all fits together. There’s no right answer. I wanted to bring the perspective of another couple of blokes just to widen it out.
There’s no single solution to this and how you make it all fit together. In the end, you have to find your own path as Mark and Johnny demonstrate here.
One aspect that shines through from them both is how big a part running now plays in their lives. It doesn’t have to be running for you but finding some kind of movement which you are passionate about will go a very long way to improving your life.
A massive thank you to Mark and Johnny for taking the time to share their own experiences.
“I am a keen runner, an even keener eater, an okay husband, single minded, occasionally grumpy, mostly happy, trying to make the most out of my time on this planet, enjoying myself as much as possible without upsetting too many others.”
Check out Mark’s book, an Amazon bestseller, The diary of an average runner.
Diet, that’s a word I dislike.
When I was a bodybuilder, competing for British titles, I’d diet, and it was horrendous. I’d diet for 12 weeks with the sole goal to lose a few stone, win a show, then blow up in weight again. Food is for two purposes in my mind, firstly it’s for enjoyment, and secondly it’s to keep you and your body working. When bodybuilding the enjoyment went, everything I put into my mouth was for my body – protein to build and repair, carbs to fuel, fats to fill up on when carbs were reduced.
It wasn’t all bad, bodybuilding taught me a lot about food, to be honest though the science at a basic level isn’t that hard. It’s very simple, consume the right foods at the right time, enjoy treats but accept the consequences, and understand the formula that calories taken in should be equal to (if maintaining) or less than (if reducing) calories burnt through usual metabolic burn (around 2000-2500 calories a day) plus calories burnt through additional exercise.
I could lose weight, I know how to do it, but at 46 years old will it make a positive impact on my life?
Now that I’m running, and usually running uphill, I really could do with losing more weight. I train well but I always said in bodybuilding that diet was probably 75% of success. I weigh around 85kg and I am 5’7”, probably outweighing many of the great runners I see around me by 20kg at least. The problem is, I love food (as I said at the start, food is for enjoyment), and I see running as a way to ensure I continue to love food (as I said before, additional exercise means you can eat more calories).
I could lose weight, I know how to do it, but at 46 years old will it make a positive impact on my life? For me the answer is a simple “NO”. It may mean I gain a few places in a race, maybe 20th instead of 30th, but who really cares about the mid pack places, I certainly don’t. I also don’t care about running for personal bests, all trail runs are different, there’s no such thing as a PB unless you enter the same race twice (I don’t).
I’d much rather live a healthy and enjoyable life, eating well, staying fit, whilst being very mindful of what I eat, when I eat it, and the consequences.
So in summary, for me unless you are a top runner competing for prizes, a running diet is pointless, you’ll blame running for not enjoying your food. Instead, balance things out, a healthy lifestyle with plenty of activity and good food choices is the way to go.
So it is best to describe that for most of my adult life I have been overweight and obese and tried numerous diets and some exercise. It’s always been the, “I don’t have enough time because of work” and my social life being pretty hectic too. I also found myself to be one of those guys that eats when bored, stressed, upset, happy, etc.
Fast forward to last year, my work life was restructured. I decided that redundancy was the choice for me and although this was a stressful time, this was my time to finally lose the weight I needed. I started with Slimming World online and taking time to go for a swim a couple of times a week in the summer and exploring where I live on my bike.
The parkrun became my goal to be there every Saturday morning with a group of great men, women and children.
The biggest change for me is this year combining diet and more exercise and this is where the running came about. On New Year’s Eve whilst at a friends party they told me they ran the Kew Gardens 10k and planned to do it again this year. So, fuelled by some booze I said I’m up for that. I woke up the next next morning to find I had been registered for the local parkrun on New Year’s Day.
I couldn’t run the 5k, I kind of ran and then walked and jogged to get around the course. What I ended up with by lunchtime was an email with my first ever 5k time.
For me this was the game changer… I just wanted to improve on that time and lose weight as well. So the parkrun became my goal to be there every Saturday morning with a group of great men, women and children trying to get around the course and see if I could beat my previous time. I also joined a slimming group so that I have the support and weekly weigh to help me.
I have now completed 12 parkruns, I look for them whenever I’m away too. I look forward to Saturday morning and getting up, off for the run and then go for a cheeky coffee afterwards. The weekly focus means I am more active in the week, whether I cycle or on my feet running along, but it doesn’t cost me anything and I get plenty of fresh air.
This has become so important to me that I will be fitting it into my work life and making sure that balance is maintained.