“Weight!” Is it really all about Running?

“Among competing hypothesis, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.”

— Ockham’s Razor

I posted this quote a few days ago pointing out that while I can research to the high heavens why my back hurts (as if someone is putting kneedles into it or my knees ache like someone has been hitting them with a hammer), the simple or “Ockham’s Razor” theoretical answer is that my Psoriatic Arthritis is the cause of my issues and will continue to be till some smart (or fortunate) scientist finally figures out the answer to this problematic disease. In the meantime, I press on and hope to win each and every battle going forward!

Along this lines, over the past few days I have been looking at the trend of my weight. Here is a chart of the past few years.

(For some reason the dates of this chart are not reading correctly but this is the past year and a half)

From the low point in the chart more than a year ago, I have steadily gained weight and though I ran 1100 miles last year, the trend of my pounds has been decidedly upward, rising from a low of 191lbs. These days, if your peruse Facebook, twitter and virtually everywhere in the social media universe, many runners, who have shaved off significant amounts of weight, attribute all of such weight loss, to their running escapades. The most common picture one sees on social media is the “before and after” pic and “running” is the variable they give the most credit to for this “loss” in weight. It is a fair assumption because if you look at the far left of the chart above for me, the high point of NH weight is the point when I began to run more ardently than prior. What followed the running of hills, trails and everywhere else, was a drop in my weight. But was “running” the most important factor that led to my weight loss?

(Get yourself some France2s from XX2I)

To investigate this answer, let’s do some math!

There is a statistical term used by mathematicians which is used to measure the whether a given variable’s movement has predictive power over another variable – The r squared so to speak between the two. If one variable moves because of the movement of the other, then one can claim that there is a level of correlation. For example, if you if you work out hard, running or biking miles upon miles without water, you typically become dehydrated – working out hard and not staying hydrated leads to dehydration…one leads to the other. These days, many new runners are attributing running for all of their weight loss but is the correlation that strong? (By strong mean, basically running = weight loss). 

“Correlation does not imply correlation”

Today, I am arguing that running does not lead to weight loss….at least not directly. Perhaps at the beginning it does (as you get more active) but overall, there is a limit to the argument. What had drawn me to such a conclusion? 

Two things…first, look at my weight chart above – again, over the past year, 11 Miles did not lead to lower weight! Second my experience of the past few months, a period where I have not run at all, has been eye opening. I am doing cross fit types of exercises but on a very limited scale. During this time, I have LOST more weight (2lbs) than all of 2016 and I am not running (yet)! I gained weight while running and I lost weight by not being able to run. This alone is an example of running not equaling weight loss.

This is not to say that running has “nothing” to do with weight loss because it does – it can trigger other behaviors. For example, for me, my running did the following 

  • It got me more active. The simple behavior of going out on the roads or trails several times a week led to a more active lifestyle. This in turn got me off the “couch” and got the metabolism moving!  
  • I began to eat better! Wanting to sustain my running activities, I began to eat better. Less fried food and morehigher protein  level foods. (Conversely, it also got me eating more and into bad habits of snacking because I was not eating enough on running days and that was a counter balance of sorts).
  • Less Stressed. Running for me takes away stress from my life. Right now I am unpleasant person at times because the level of stress in my life is building up and I do not have a “release” for that stress. 
  • New ideas: Running has led me to new people and new ideas for better health. Bibrave and Nuun along with Curearthritis are ambassadorships I maintain and from there I have learned a ton. The varied insights have helped me run better and live a more healthy life. 

While these benefits have arrived from my running, one could get these benefits from doing other things like cycling, swimming, organized sports and alike. Running is the mechanism that triggers these benefits. But the benefits are the actions that lead to better health – not the action necessarily of running up and down the streets of Boston. One needs to follow through on the benefits for weight loss and that is where I have failed this past year. While I enjoy running every time I am on the road, perhaps it is not the best mechanism for me for better health…

As I posted this morning, my running like activities hopefully begin next week. Going forward, while my goal of an ultramarathon remains, I plan on employing other mechanisms as well (other sports like soccer and hockey). With a diversified lot of mechanisms, I hope to reduce the injuries and attain those benefits above. With those benefits, I hope to resume my better health trend well into the future!

Thank you for reading as always!


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