How to Start Running to Lose Weight and Avoid Injuries
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Megan Lyons is a wellness, and running coach, from Dallas, Texas and the voice behind Lyons’ Share. Through her personalized, one-on-one Health Coaching, she helps people achieve their healthiest and happiest selves by finding the balance of nutrition and fitness that works for their unique body. She empowers busy people who successfully balance work, family, social life, and many other commitments, but who have been up and down the diet roller coaster, to finally reach their health goals and feel confident about their bodies.
She firmly believes in the concept of “bioindividuality” which is the awareness of one’s specific health and diet needs based on their body composition and lifestyle. After graduating from Harvard University and doing her MBA from the prestigious Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, she completed a full-year program to become a Certified Health Coach/ Certified Holistic Nutritionist from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
CureJoy had the privilege to interview the ever “effervescent” Megan to get some valuable insights on what are the common pitfalls, precautions and expectations for anyone who wishes to adopt Running as a means to achieve their Health goals. Here are some excerpts from the discussion:
Q: Do you notice a trend to lose weight quickly, without working on the “real” factors of diet and lifestyle?
Yes, I do often see potential clients who are looking for a “quick fix.” Our culture today is built upon instant gratification, and if there is an easy way to do something, people are excited to take advantage of it. While I’m all about automating things in our businesses or day-to-day lives, when it comes to our bodies and our health, it is a completely different story.
Any diet pill or magic weight loss solution on the market is simply too good to be true, and in many cases, can be dangerous. True, healthy weight loss does not have to be difficult – in fact, I work with my clients to make only one simple change every single week, so it never feels overwhelming – but it does not happen overnight. For most people, a healthy range of weight loss is around 1-2 pounds per week. For those with a higher total amount of weight to lose, it’s often possible to lose faster than that, but most diets that offer immediate weight loss will lead to re-gaining after the individual comes off of the diet.
I always tell people to be patient with themselves – it took your body a while to put on the weight, so it’s OK if it takes several weeks, or even months, to lose it. If you are doing it in a way that is healthy, sustainable, and doesn’t feel restrictive, it will definitely be worth it.
Q: Being an avid runner yourself, do you feel that overall fitness, and not weight loss, should be the long term goal of any regimen?
If an individual is just looking to lose weight, there are far easier ways to do it than signing up to run a marathon or other long-distance race. In fact, many people who run marathons end up gaining weight during training! (I talk about the topic in this blog post).
If done carefully, though, people can sign up for and train for running races while losing weight! In these cases, the motivation of completing the distance successfully is often very helpful to continuing the weight loss journey. I think the overall answer depends on the person’s starting place and goals – if you only want to lose weight, I would recommend a different training regimen; if you want to lose weight and run, you can do it – carefully!; if your main goal is the running, then I recommend focusing on overall fitness rather than weight loss.
Q: What the common pitfalls of jumping on the “weight loss” bandwagon with gusto and over enthusiasm?
Unfortunately, I see many beginning runners think that they need to run every single day, or that their pace should improve on every single run, or that every run needs to be a further distance than the previous run. In almost all of these cases, the runner will end up either injured or burned out mentally, and will stop running before completing the program.
Injuries like runner’s knee, achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and shin splints are all common in runners who try to do too much too soon. The injuries extend to other forms of exercise, too. When starting an exercise program, I always advise people to start slowly, build gradually, and most importantly, listen to your body.
Q: Would you stress a bit on why you feel “bio individuality” has to be the crux of our health finding mission?
This is one of my favorite questions to be asked, and also one of the reasons people wind up so confused about nutrition in general. Many of my clients who come to me for health coaching feel so overwhelmed by the conflicting nutritional research that gets published, and can’t figure out which path to follow for themselves.
For example, on any given day, you might see a study that touts the benefits of a “Paleo”-type diet, which is often heavy on meat, and a study that demonstrates increased health and longevity of those who follow a vegan diet (with no animal products). How is this possible? Simply put, it’s all about balance, and finding out what works for a person’s unique body chemistry, preferences, and lifestyle. If there were one “perfect solution” to the diet conundrum, we would not have so many best-selling books, flashy news articles, and more – these often exist because the authors have found something that works for them and they think can be applied to the rest of the world.
Some people might thrive on a diet that makes others feel terrible, and the only way to determine this is through self experimentation. There are a few things that I think are beneficial to everyone (namely, water, vegetables, and some form of movement), but aside from that, each person is different.
Q: People today are adopting diets based on hearsay. What advice would you like to give to them?
Like I said above, it is all about finding the unique balance that works for your body. It is a great thing to pay attention to nutritional research and learn about health trends, but the most important thing is to absorb all the information available and choose the pieces that work for each individual.
I am a big proponent of self-experimentation – if you read a study that sounds intriguing, why not try that on yourself for a few weeks and notice how you feel? Pay attention to things like digestion, energy levels, cravings, satiation, exercise performance, and more. If you need guidance, working with a health coach or other trained professional is often a great place to start.
When I work with my clients, I can help them sort through the research and trends, guide them to feel their best, and provide motivation and accountability along the way.
Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.