Most people think that losing weight equals suffering. If you want to lose weight you have to stop eating all “delicious” foods forever and you will suffer every single day. They use words like …
172. Can Losing Weight Be Fun?
My name is Patrick McGilvray, and I’m an experienced marathoner, ultra runner, Sports Nutritionist, Master Life Coach, and weight loss coach for runners. I’ve dedicated my life to helping runners just like you properly fuel your body and your mind. So you can get leaner, get stronger, run faster, and run longer than you ever thought possible. This is Running Lean.
Hey there, and welcome to episode 172 of Running Lean. My name is Patrick McGilvray, The Weight Loss Coach for Runners and today, can losing weight be fun? So most people think that losing weight equals suffering. If you want to lose weight, you have to stop eating all the quote-unquote delicious foods forever. And you’re basically going to suffer every single day.
They use words like suffering and struggling and deprivation and starvation and white knuckling it. And I don’t know about you, but all of this sounds pretty terrible to me. If this is what you think losing weight looks like, if you’re suffering every day trying to lose weight, you are doing it wrong. Today, I’m digging into this concept of making healthy eating and losing weight fun.
Can losing weight be fun? Armed with the right mindset, I think it can absolutely be fun. But first, it’s been drilled into our heads that if you’re a runner, you have to eat carbs, lots and lots of carbs. The truth is, though, in two and a half million years of human evolution, we’ve never relied solely on carbs to run long distances, we just never have.
We burn fat, lots of fat, the idea of not using gels, and goos and stuff to run – this isn’t crazy. This isn’t some new fringe concept. It’s actually baked into our DNA. Humans are naturally excellent fat burners. But we’ve gotten far away from that in the last few decades. When you adapt to burning fat for fuel, you will have all the energy you need for running your own stored body fat, right?
We’re not talking about eating bacon and lard or whatever this is like your own stored body fat becomes your fuel source. Plus, if you want to lose weight, what do you have to do? You’ve got to burn fat, you’ve got to burn that stored body fat. So this whole concept of that adaptation, it’s a beautiful thing all the way around.
You really don’t need to eat a ton of carbs to run, you can eat some, that’s fine. You can become fat adapted, though and start using your own body fat as fuel. When you get fat adapted, you’ll never run out of fuel, you’ll be able to run basically all day, and you lose weight in the process. It’s a win win-win.
Learn more about my unique approach to weight loss for runners and join the Coaching Project. Just go to runningleancoaching.com/join to learn more. Okay, I mentioned something in last week’s podcast, or maybe it was a couple weeks ago about creating habits and trying to make things fun. And I just sort of touched on this idea of, you know, changing your habits eating healthy and how it can be fun.
And I got some questions about that. So I’m like, you know what, I need to just address this today. Because I think there’s this concept that when you change your diet, and when you start exercising, if you want to lose weight, like it’s just not going to be fun. Like you have to suffer your way through this whole process. I think most people believe that if you want to lose weight, you have to suffer. It has to be about suffering and struggling and excessive hunger and deprivation and white knuckling it. And this all sounds like super terrible, right?
The problem with this thinking, if you believe that in order to lose weight, you’re going to have to suffer for the rest of your life, that is absolutely not sustainable. There’s no way you can maintain that level of suffering forever. And so a lot of people believe this. They believe that losing weight equals suffering forever, never going to eat good food again. Got to eat bland, cardboard tasting stuff for the rest of my life. I’m going to be freaking out and feeling deprived every time I’m around some sort of quote-unquote delicious food. Like I just there’s no way I can deal with that. And so they just quit. There’s like, there’s no way I can do that for the rest of my life.
And many of you listening to this right now I know that you are good at suffering already. Like you’re a runner, like you’ve probably run marathons or ultra marathons or half marathons or whatever. Just training for an event like that and training for a marathon requires a lot of suffering.
Like you, there’s months of suffering, I gotta get up early. And it’s cold in the wintertime and like, you know, go run in the rain and run the snow and the ice and the wind and push yourself through the miles and you know that hurts. PR during a marathon is painful, there is pain involved in improving your time.
Every time you want to run a marathon, qualify for Boston, whatever that looks like for you. There’s pain involved, there’s suffering involved, not just in the race itself, but in the months of training that lead up to them. So we are good as runners, we are good at suffering, we can do that. We know what that looks like.
And I’ve suffered so much doing hard races. I have never run a marathon that at some point I didn’t say, ‘why do I even do this, this sucks so bad right now.’ And I remember running my 100 miler, and that’s a whole new level of pain and suffering, my friends, I’m just going to tell you right now, that this is something that I haven’t done again, since because there’s so much pain and suffering involved with that is like 28 hours of pain and suffering involved with that, right?
So runners, we can endure a lot of pain and suffering, we can deal with that, we’re good at this, right? But when I say to you, like, you know, what, just, you know, limit how much like pizza you’re eating or ice cream, like, you know, maybe just not eat that much. Immediately this becomes some type of suffering that you’re just like not willing to endure, right? Think about that for just a second.
You’re going to do all the hard work required to let’s say, qualify for Boston. So hard to do that. Right? You will suffer for months. And during that race itself, you’re going to be running so hard, you’re going to deal with so much pain, that, but if I say like, hey, don’t eat ice cream for 30 days, or 60 days or something like that, it’s like, oh, my god, I can’t do it. Right? It just becomes in our mind, it becomes something that we’re just not willing to deal with. Right? So this is why most people don’t even start.
Now, there is some suffering at the beginning. Like when you change your diet, there’s going to be a little bit of, you know, deprivation, you’re going to feel a little bit like, oh, what am I supposed to eat? I can’t eat sugar, I can’t eat, you know, processed flours and things like that. And whatever your plan looks like, everybody’s a little bit different.
But let’s just say you’re not eating pizza and ice cream. And you’re like, oh my gosh, I’m you know, this is hard, right? Yeah, it is hard at the beginning. Over time, that gets better. That gets better. Like it’s this is not going to last forever. I think we all know that, right. But if you believe that, you know, the rest of your life, you’re going to be suffering and struggling, no one’s going to sign up for that.
No one on this planet is going to sign up for that. I don’t care how much pain you can endure during an ultramarathon or something like that, nobody is going to sign up for a lifetime of suffering and struggling around food, right?
So there’s a mindset that this is too hard, I’m going to feel deprived for the rest of my life, screw this, it’s not worth it. And that mindset is just wrong, you have to change that, right? But most people, they just come at this whole process like losing weight, the whole journey of losing weight, is just going to feel so terrible forever that they quit or never start.
But when you do that, you’re really giving up what you really want for yourself. You want to get healthier, you want to be stronger, you want to feel good in your body, you want to feel confident, you want to run faster, whatever it is. Losing weight is actually just sort of a nice side effect of all those things.
Like you’re trying to become this healthiest version of yourself. And losing weight is just a little nice side benefit in the process. But you give all that up when you quit on yourself because you think it’s gonna be too hard or you make it too hard, right?
Becoming a fit, strong, healthy human being means you’re probably going to have to change some things. If you want to lose some weight, you’re gonna have to make some changes, you’re probably gonna have to give up a couple of these foods that you’ve been eating, or maybe not eat as much of some of these foods. Really limit how much pizza you eat.
I eat pizza every now and then. I eat some tacos here and there, I had some sushi a couple weeks ago. It’s great. I don’t do that all the time. But there will be some amount of discomfort there will be some amount of suffering involved. It should be minimal. It shouldn’t be temporary.
Changing your diet, changing anything for that matter, comes with some amount of discomfort, right? Just accept this, right? Let’s accept this and move on. It’s gonna happen. It’s typically at the beginning, it’s not a lifetime of pain and suffering and struggling. If it is, you’re doing it wrong. And I want to clear one thing up right away. The goal of all this, the goal of losing weight, or eating healthy, is not to have fun. It’s to be a fit healthy human being and do what it takes to stick with that, like make this your lifestyle.
To live your life as a fit, healthy human being, that means there will be some struggle, some suffering, some times that are not so good. That’s okay, that’s part of the process, there’s also going to be some times where it is fun, where it feels great, just like running.
But if you want to get stronger, let’s say, you’ve got to lift the heavy weights. Lifting heavy weights is hard, it hurts. There’s a certain amount of suffering involved, right. But is that fun? The results are fun. Looking in the mirror and seeing your abs for the first time since you were like 12. That’s fun. Having your shirts fit tight around your arms. That’s fun for the guys, maybe, maybe for the ladies, too.
If you want to lose weight, you have to endure a little bit of suffering like not eating pizza. That’s not fun. Not drinking any alcohol when everybody else at the table is drinking is not necessarily fun. But you know what is fun? Not waking up with a hangover the next day, stepping on the scale and seeing a lower number, that’s fun.
Fitting into that pair of jeans again, that’s fun. Feeling confident enough to wear a two piece bathing suit, or to maybe take your shirt off at the beach, guys only probably, depending on what beach you’re at, that’s fun. So it’s not going to be fun and games all the time. And you have to accept that, right?
You’ve got to kind of do some of the hard things in order to reap the benefits in order to have the fun. Running is hard, right? We do it anyway because we love how we feel afterward. We love pushing ourselves. We love accomplishing big things. We love seeing what we’re capable of. We love accomplishing more and running faster and running further.
But running is not always fun. Running is hard. A lot of times running is hard. I did two runs last weekend, I’m training for this Ultra. And on Saturday, I ran 24 miles. On Sunday I ran 10. Right, that was on the schedule. That’s what I told myself I was going to do. I did the 24 on Saturday and was pretty good. I felt good. Felt pretty strong, and recovered quickly from that run.
And the next day I set out to do 10. And every step of that 10 miles was terrible. It was so hard. I’m like oh my god, this is so hard. And if my belief is that running is supposed to be fun all the time. I’m quitting like right now, I’m not doing any of this, running is hard. Let’s just be honest, like running is hard.
You know, I’m putting in these miles because what I want for myself is to finish this Ultra and I, you know, I’m putting in the miles and I’m doing the hard things now so that I can reap the benefits and finish this thing. Now this Ultra I’m doing is going to be another level of heart. And that’s okay, I’m building the strength and the endurance and all that right now to be able to finish this thing.
But sometimes, running is hard. Sometimes, losing weight is hard, sometimes sticking with the plan, and not eating the pizza, and not drinking the beers after work or whatever is hard. Losing weight is hard sometimes, but we do it anyway because we’re committed to that process.
We’re committed to this as a lifestyle. I saw this quote the other day, which I thought was so awesome, it said, “How long does it take the average person to run a marathon?” That was like a question that was posed and the answer underneath it said, “Average people don’t run marathons.” I thought, damn, I love that!
I love that because we are not average people. We want more for ourselves. Average people don’t do the hard things. Average people will not deal with any amount of suffering or struggling in order to lose the way because it’s hard. But you’re not average. You’re willing to do the hard things so that you can become more, right?
Another thing I want you to think about is what does fun even mean to you? Is running intervals fun? I don’t know. Probably not. I’m going to say no. But how good you feel afterwards, that’s fun. Is doing the work to PR a marathon fun? No, but there’s some elation that you feel when you cross the finish line that is out of this world. I
s it fun to skip dessert? No. But when you see that number on the scale go down again, that’s fun. You got to reframe fun. Is it fun to binge out on like fried food? It might feel like it at the time, listen, I can’t eat this stuff. I eat fried food and I feel terrible for like three days. I’m sluggish, I can’t think straight. I got to stay away from this stuff. Stay away from fried food. If you just do one thing, stay away from fried food.
You know what is fun though? Waking up every morning feeling good. Having lots of energy, having a clear head. That’s fun. So we have to kind of reframe our idea of fun and maybe push some of this short term pleasure off the table, in favor of what we really want for ourselves long term.
And one thing I just have to say right here is like fun is subjective. What might be fun for me is not going to be fun for you necessarily. How you make weight loss fun, or how you make running fun is gonna be different for each person. So we have to come up with some ideas that feel good individually. But I’m gonna give you some examples here.
So how can you make running fun, let’s say one thing I love is running with friends. If you have a group of people you can run with regularly, that is fun. I have had more fun in my running group over the last, whatever, 15 years, basically running with the same people for that amount of time.
It is so amazing because we do hard things, but we do them together. And we laugh and we joke around, there’s always a joke of the day, usually super inappropriate. And super fun. Mix up your workouts, don’t do the same workouts all the time, change things up, leave your watch at home. That’s kind of fun. Just go out there and run. Leave your phone at home. They call this running naked.
It doesn’t mean running without clothes on, I want to make that very clear. Running naked means leaving your watch and your phone at home and just going for a run and paying attention to your breathing and to your surroundings. And like it’s just different, you know, run somewhere new, pick a new route somewhere you’ve never been before.
Get out in nature, run on a beach, one of my favorite things to do in the world is run on a beach. If you can do that, if you have any access to a beach, go do that right now. Run on trails, run up a mountain, get out in nature and run in nature, it’s amazing. This is what we do as human beings, we’ve just evolved to run in nature. So do more of that.
How can you make losing weight fun? Do it with friends. You know, one of the big reasons I have a group component to my coaching program is that we do it together. You know we support each other, we do coaching together, and we encourage each other and we’re there for each other.
We share ideas, and we share what works for us and what doesn’t work. And it’s more fun to do with friends. Plain and simple. Try new foods. What foods do you love? And by the way, there are so many choices for healthy foods out there. It’s literally limitless.
I hear people say this all the time. “I don’t know what to eat. There’s nothing to eat.” This is just a cop out. This is an excuse. There are a few foods that we try to stay away from like, I’ll tell people like maybe we start out with stay away from sugar, flour, vegetable oils, you cut out those three things.
“Oh my gosh, what’s left?” Literally everything else in the world. Everything else. Eat more protein, stay away from junk food. And then the choices are limitless from there. I love burgers and I found a bunch of new burger places around town here. And we go to these burger places and they do a great job of like making a burger with a lettuce wrap.
I don’t eat flour and leave you know the bun, whatever. So I’ll get a lettuce wrap burger. Oh, get an extra patty on there and put all kinds of stuff on there. Veggies, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions, jalapenos, and a fried egg on there, whatever. It’s like super delicious and just love eating burgers again, you know?
I like pizza, all the pizza here. I’ll make my own crust. You know. Try new places, new foods, new recipes. Eating healthy can be fun. If it’s not fun to some degree, it doesn’t have to be fun all the time, you’re probably doing it wrong. Okay.
Another way of making this whole process of eating healthy and losing weight fun is rewarding yourself. Reward yourself for sticking to the plan. Don’t reward yourself with food. Don’t reward yourself with like, oh I stuck to my plan for the last week I’m going to eat a pizza, I’m going to eat ice cream, I’m going to, you know, eat a bunch of candy. No, don’t do that. That’s called self sabotaging behavior. We don’t do that.
Reward yourself with things like a massage, or go to a museum or get a new pair of running shoes. How about that, or a new shirt or pair of jeans or bathing suit or something. Reward yourself with something that feels good. Make it fun.
Go out in the woods, take a hike, get out in nature, take a weekend trip somewhere, it doesn’t have to be somewhere far away, or expensive or whatever. Just do something to reward yourself for sticking with the plan. Again, fun is subjective. So what’s fun for you? Like how many ways can you come up with to make losing weight fun for you?
And I talk about all this stuff here on the podcast. But listen, if you really want to change, you’ve got to do stuff, right? The only way you can produce results is by taking action. Action produces results, thinking about stuff doesn’t give you results.
So when this podcast is over, I want you to get a notebook or journal and I want you to spend a few minutes and write down all the different ways that you can make losing weight fun. Answer these questions. How can I make eating healthy, more fun for me? How can I make sticking to my plan more fun for me? How can I make exercise more fun for me? How can I make running more fun for me?
Ask yourself all these questions, write down all the answers, you should probably be able to come up with 100 different answers to these questions total, you know, something like that. 50, whatever, come up with as many as you can, the more fun you make it, the more likely you are to stick with it.
Another concept I want you to kind of wrap your head around is this. Over time, your palette will change. You may think that eating healthy is gonna be boring, I’m not gonna like it and it’s not going to taste good. And when you first change your diet, and you first stop eating some of these hyper palatable foods, your taste buds may be like where’s the good stuff, quote-unquote good stuff?
Where’s the overly processed hyper palatable foods? Like, over time your taste buds will change. And things will start to become more delicious to you, the simple foods will become more delicious to you. For example, one of the things that I love to eat, I love eating steak with salt on it like that is one of my favorite things to eat. It’s so simple. And this is from a guy who didn’t eat meat for like 10 years.
And now I just love it’s like such a beautiful thing. You know, a nice ribeye grilled with some salt. That’s it. It’s so good. And that’s all I need. Chicken and broccoli is one of my other favorite things. It’s just, you know, broiled chicken with broccoli. That’s it. And some butter and salt on that broccoli. Oh my gosh, so delicious. My mouth just like explodes with flavor. And I’m like, this is so good.
But it wasn’t good at the beginning. It was hard. It was like, this is like, I want a pizza, I want bread, I want sugar, or whatever. And I don’t need all that stuff anymore. My tastes have changed, my palette has changed. I find so much satisfaction and fun eating a super simple diet. It’s not complicated. It’s not, you know, super exciting. But it’s also fun to eat this way. It really is. Food can be fun, every meal doesn’t have to be some magical spiritual experience. Okay?
Over time when your tastes change these simple foods will become more fun for you to promise. If you’re trying to lose weight and you’re suffering, you’re suffering long term, you are doing it wrong. It’s not sustainable, you’ll quit. Right? It’s kind of like doing speed work every single day, you are going to hate running very quickly, you’re gonna burn yourself out, and you’re gonna quit because that is not sustainable.
And then listen, if you want to have more fun on your weight loss journey, consider joining us in the Coaching Project where we actually have fun. This is my lifetime access program. We support each other, we encourage each other, we learn from each other, you get live coaching with me every week, twice a week. And this makes the process of losing weight actually fun.
Just like running alone is not as fun as running with a group. Being on this weight loss journey alone is not as fun as doing it with a group like the coaching project. Cool. Alright, that’s all I got for you today. Love you all, keep on Running Lean, and I’ll talk to you soon.
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