Changing Habits

For five years, I ran three to seven times a week. When I started running, I was fifty pounds overweight. I ran for an hour a day, every day, for four months. By the end of that four month period, I was at a weight I hadn’t been since the seventh grade.

Since then, I’ve put back on about ten pounds (and am now at a pretty healthy weight), but I kept running three or four times a week for five years. To add perspective, within that same time period, I’ve started a business, graduated university, met my wife, and become a married man.

Some habits die hard — but maybe they shouldn’t.

About a month ago, I finally quit my regular running habit. I read an excellent article about the biology of belly fat and muffin tops. It’s a bit over my head, but here’s what I got out of it: did you know that belly fat is the most stubborn fat on the body? The article suggests that weight training is better for burning stubborn fat than cardio, because of long-term gains in calorie burning attributed to strength-based workouts.

In order for it to work, you have to:

  • Stop running (almost), to prevent your body storing fat.1
  • Eat less and do only short workouts at the gym.
  • Or alternatively, you can eat more and do longer workouts at the gym.

Your body will slowly use up its fat reserves naturally, meaning it will displace and shrink the fat cells in those stubborn areas. So long as you’re consistent.

In the past month, I’ve noticed a slight reduction of fat in that area. So has my wife. Like most positive changes in our bodies, the results are slow to come, but they’re meaningful.

I say all this to say one thing: sometimes, in life and work, we have long-lasting habits. Maybe our lives and our work would be better off if we spent some time revising and changing them.

  1. This is the part that’s most over my head, so correct me if I’m wrong. The article makes it sound like if your body notices that you’re eating well and you’re getting lots of cardio, it shifts excess fat to the belly for leaner times. It will burn the fat later, when we start eating less and getting less exercise while food is scarce. This served us well when we were hunter-gatherers. It does not serve us well as urbanites. ↩︎