Q: Enjoyed reading your column in the Seattle Times “Become A Runner One Step At A Time.” Good stuff. I have a general question: Can running actually reduce fat in the mid section? I’m a runner but having difficulty losing my “gut”!! Frustrating.- Steve
A: Thanks for reading, Steve!
This is a loaded question, so I needed more info. Through follow up emailing I learned:
- I don’t know how old Steve is, but in his email he made the comment he is “an old man… way old!”
- Steve has worked with personal trainer at the very reputable Pro Sports in my area and was put on a very strict diet, where he lost weight and lowered his cholesterol significantly. (Awesome!)
- Shortly afterward, he switched to another PT where the workouts were “solid, refreshing. I was feeling good, but not good about myself. I mean, here I am w/ flab that would fit nicely in a B-cup along w/ an ugly gut. I was eating really good. Eventually I left the gym. Now I need to get back in a gym. And, a pt.”
So- first, here’s my necessary schpeal: I have not met you in person, I have not seen your medical history and have never even laid eyes on you in real life. All of my advice will be based in generalities, but any advice you plan on TAKING should come straight from a doctor.
So, does running reduce belly fat? Yes. Running burns calories, so it burns fat. It doesn’t burn just belly fat, or burn belly fat more than any other place on the body or more than any other type of exercise, but running burns more calories than most types of exercise, so it is a good choice to burn the most fat in the quickest amount of time.
Belly fat is different than other types of fat, however. Belly fat is usually a sign of poor diet, high in saturated fats and processed sugars. Also, belly fat is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, so even if you are of a relatively healthy weight and have a spare tire, you are still unhealthy. To learn more about what belly fat says about your diet and why it’s so dangerous for your health, read Belly Fat May be Deadly.
There re two main things that stick out to me:
Age: (You said it Steve, not me) As you get older, your metabolism slows, so weight loss and muscle gains become harder to achieve. The good news is, exercise is the perfect way to speed it back up. The more muscle you have on your body, the more calories you will burn at rest. The more cardio you do, the higher your calorie burn for hours afterward. Therefore, lifting weights and doing cardio are your ticket to speeding up your metabolism and seeing results.
Consistency: Give it time. You will lose weight faster in some areas than others, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to ever happen. People often change too many variables too quickly because they get impatient which has two negative effects: 1) if you change too many things, you can’t pinpoint which one is the culprit and 2) you may simply have not given diet and exercise enough time to do its magic.
You also have to factor in that you are viewing yourself through your own eyes, and you are your own worst body critic. Let’s keep it in perspective: you started working out, ate right and saw results. You saw some results but not enough to keep you happy, so you quit and you are even more unhappy. Give it time, your body will change. Do the next right thing. If working out made you feel good, confident and excited, THAT’s what should motivate you to continue, not how you look without a shirt on. Shit, I’d kill to me a B cup ;)
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