Ever read fairy tales? They're not politically correct, and they can be gruesome, but they can also provide useful metaphors. Like the one about the girl who put on these red shoes that made her dance and then she found out she couldn’t ever stop dancing.
If you've been exercising at all, you're wearing those shoes.
Once you start exercising, don’t stop
Paul Williams of the University of California at Berkeley showed that "interrupting an exercise program can cause you to gain weight that won't come off easily even after you resume training" (Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, February 2008). In other words, if you slack off on the exercising for awhile, you can’t just go back to the same old routine and expect to shed the pounds.
Weight Gained When You Stop Exercising May Be Hard to Lose
Williams divided his research subjects into low and high mileage groups. According to Williams, the people in the lower mileage groups were not able to lose the weight gained during time off if they just resumed the same exercise regimen. People who started running again after a break didn't lose weight until their mileage "exceeded 20 miles per week in men, and 10 miles per week in women."
Dr. Mirkin, in his wonderful ezine, says that "This study explains why exercise programs designed to prevent obesity may fall short if the exercise is irregular, seasonal, or often interrupted. "
Merry says "Now they tell us."
You're not in a position to cry "stop the treadmill, I wanna get off!"
Ideally this would have been useful information in November, not in March. If you've been pampering your inner slug this winter, then you might find yourself facing a bit of a challenge when you try to shed those pounds you gained from hibernating through the cold months.
(Do you like the way I say "you" instead of "we" in that last paragraph? This is a kind of distancing technique that people use when they don't want to face their own reflection in the mirror. Who knew that diction could be used as a form of self-evasion?)
This study worries me, because it's so easy for me to slack off during the winter and get back into the habit come springtime. I think that I'm not alone in this slacktitude, either. Amy, from the Runner's Lounge, gave a list of advice from an expert beginner. I prefer to think of myself as a re-beginner, but I am expert at starting over.
Of course, I realize you've all been very good this winter, and run 20 or 40 miles a week, so you don't need to worry about this study at all -- unless you have to stop running for some reason. Anyone, no matter how fit, can twist an ankle or injure a knee. If you find yourself in that situation, then you might want to intensify the workout once you get back on track.
Question for you: how many miles do you run a week? I'm curious.
(To read more details about Williams' study, check out Dr. Mirkin's ezine.)