Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Running for Fat People

I'm obese. I don't have a problem saying that, because it's true. I'm fat. I'm a fat ass.

If you don't accept who you are now, then change is difficult. Why is it important to accept who you are? I don't want to be fat. I don't like being fat. Yet I am. Refusing to acknowledge that is goofy. It's like protesting against rain or sun. You are what you are, right now. So first, accept that you are now fat.

I think there's two closely-related concepts, and I want to make sure I communicate what I mean, that you know the point that I'm trying to make. One concept is thinking that being at that weight as acceptable or not (saying it's not is good for building motivation to change). Saying "being fat is unacceptable, I want to lose weight!" is good. Do that. The second concept is thinking "I am not really that fat." When you say "my current weight is unacceptable", use that to motivate yourself to lose weight -- not to hide that fact from yourself or from others (eg by wearing clothes to disguise your weight).

It's important not to conflate the two concepts. This might sound like a word game, but I think the point is important: accept who you are now; that's what the reality is. Acknowledge that you got here somehow. Acknowledge that your old habits, your habits up to now, are what got you here. All of that is past, and although it was under your control, what's done is done and you can't change the past. Your current weight is a fact.

What is under your control is who you will be. Who do you want to be? Are you getting there, or just dreaming about it?

I hit 12 pounds off of peak. For a month ... hmm, I need to figure when I started this, let's call it March 1st, which puts me at two months. For two months, that's decent weight but not a whole lot. Six pounds a month puts me at 72 pounds in a year, and that's real. I need to lose about 70 pounds of fat, so doing that in a year is, I think, great. Some people have lost more; I've lost 15 pounds in a month; etc etc. I think the important thing is measurable progress, and I've definitely had that.

Despite the number of successful, overweight runners out there, I don't really want to be one. I want to be a successful, average-weight runner. As I pointed out in my post about running for weight loss, running is a crappy way to lose weight. It's not very efficient, the exercise will boost your appetite, and running with excess weight will put a lot of stress on your joints and feet.

My first goal is weight loss. My most important goal is weight loss. I want this because: (1) most of my fat is abdominal, which is correlated with disease more so than interstitial fat; (2) I want to look better; (3) exercise of any sort, especially for fun, is much more fun if I weigh less.

So my plan is to lose weight first. Other goals include improving general health, improving cardiovascular fitness, and going snowboarding a bunch next winter. Oh, and getting rich, that'd be nice to. And I want a pony?

The first few are realistic goals. By eating better, I'm burning off more weight and improving my health. Improving fitness makes running easier, but it requires something more than just eating right.

That's my running goal: improving fitness. I want to be able to run further and faster. Running a lot, running long distance, is I think a poor choice for us fatties. So that means short-distance, high-intensity runs. What I've read about training protocols (eg a recent post on intense workouts by Richard Nikoley) suggests that intervals and wind sprints are the way to go. As a bonus, they mean less overall foot and leg stress; less time impacting my joints and feet with all my excess body mass. I improve my running ability in a way that doesn't risk injury the way long-distance running would at this point.

I worked out tonight, including my legs, and I know from past experience that running the next day leads to soreness. Not sure if that's good, body-stress-induce-adaptation soreness or ow-I-hurt-dont-break-me soreness. Bodies are complicated. So I'm not gonna run tomorrow.

Ultimately my running goal is long-distance, but not right now. Sprints and walk/run intervals are my goal. Sprints on Friday!

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