It Was So Frustrating, but Here's Why Running Didn't Help Me Lose Weight

Running was my gateway drug to fitness, and I'm so grateful for that, because it definitely got me forever hooked on the healthy path. But because weight loss was my main motive for lacing up my sneaks, when the scale didn't budge, it made me so angry. Why was I working so hard and not getting the results I wanted? I realized it was because of these three reasons.

POPSUGAR Photography | Ericka McConnell

Is It Lunchtime Yet?

I had the mindset that if I ran more, I'd burn more calories. So instead of 45 minutes, I increased it to 60 minutes most days of the week, except on Saturdays when I had more time to do a longer 80- or 90-minute run. I was burning more calories, but I was also increasingly more famished. I was hungry all. The. Time. I was constantly thinking about food and when my next snack or meal would be. So I basically ate all the calories I worked so hard to burn, and then some. I couldn't outrun my appetite!

To the Cows and Back

My runs were done at 6 a.m., and because my brain was barely awake enough to get the right sneaker on each foot, I kept my runs simple. I'd run three miles past this sweet little farm, then turn around and run home. I did this six-mile out-and-back run four or five days a week for almost a year. Not only was it pretty boring, but worse off, my became body so accustomed to this mostly flat run. This no-brainer workout turned out to be the reason my weight plateaued.

Did You Already Run?

My husband asked me this one morning after I had gotten back from my typical six-miler, and I was like, "duh, can't you tell?" But I was barely sweating, my skin was hardly flushed, and my hair was perfectly pulled back in a ponytail. It wasn't until I tried CrossFit that I realized my runs weren't workouts at all — they were more like warmups. I hardly challenged myself on my runs whatsoever. I occasionally played around with running hills when I was half-marathon training, but other than that, I stuck to my basic route at a moderate speed, slow enough to carry on a conversation with my running buddies.

After these three realizations, if I was going to maximize my calorie-burning capacity, I had to work much, much harder. I actually started doing shorter workouts but made them more intense. I traded paved roads for trails a few times a week and did hill repeats once or twice a week. I also stopped running so much and incorporated other workouts like biking, strength training, and CrossFit. These were just the changes I needed to start losing the weight around my belly that had been hanging on for dear life — what an amazing feeling to lift up my shirt and see definition in my abs!