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This Mom Worked With a Running Coach and Ate in Moderation to Lose 65 Pounds

Runner’s World logo Runner’s World 9/14/2021 By Lisa Amstutz, as told to Emily Shiffer
a couple of people posing for the camera: “Running has helped build my confidence and is no longer just something I do for weight loss; it is part of my lifestyle.” © Courtesy Lisa Amstutz “Running has helped build my confidence and is no longer just something I do for weight loss; it is part of my lifestyle.”

Name: Lisa AmstutzAge: 38

Location: Ohio

Occupation: VP, Business Development

Start Weight: 200+ pounds... I honestly stopped checking at points in my journey

End Weight: 135 pounds

Time Running: 8 years and 7 months

My weight has been a struggle for my entire life. I weighed more than 200 pounds my freshman year of high school, but was able to lose almost 70 pounds by my high school graduation. However, I lost weight the wrong way, by severely limiting my calories, and I was not able to maintain the weight loss.

When I was around 20 years old, I had gained a majority of the weight back. I tried various diets and exercise in my 20s, and I would always lose a few pounds and gain a few pounds. It was a never-ending cycle. I always had headaches and fatigue, and I struggled with my self-confidence; I generally was not happy with my body.

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During routine bloodwork around age 29, I found out that I had high cholesterol, which was my turning point. I worked closely with my doctor, and he felt strongly that through consistent exercise and a healthier diet, I could lower my cholesterol. He also felt these changes would improve my fatigue and daily headaches.

In January 2013, a friend asked me to join her in a local half marathon. At this point, I had been exercising a few times a month, and was starting to feel better physically and mentally, so I agreed to join. However, I quickly realized I did not really enjoy running! It was hard, and I couldn’t run a mile without walking. My body hurt, but I was committed to see it through. At that point, I would run two or three times a week for a total of around eight miles, and from 2013 through 2016, I lost around 30 pounds.

Around 2016, I became fully committed to running and started enjoying it more. I started running four to five times a week for about 15 total miles, and continued to do this through the first 18 weeks of my first pregnancy with our son. After the birth of our son in 2017, I got back into running and was able to get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight—and I lost another 10 pounds. When I was pregnant with our daughter in 2018, I was able to run up until the day she was born in April 2019. Since her birth, I have ran 11 more half marathons, and many more 5Ks and 10Ks.

I started working with a running coach in the fall of 2019, and I have accomplished more than I ever thought possible in my running. My current half marathon PR is 2:06:04, which I ran in March 2021; it’s almost an hour off of my first half marathon time of 3:04:37 in April 2013. I currently weigh the same I did back when I graduated high school, but this time it has been through healthy eating and consistent exercise.

When I was in my 20s, my diet consisted of almost entirely fast food—pizza, hamburgers, and french fries, with very minimal fruits and veggies. I also struggled with portion control and had a negative relationship with exercise. Today my diet has such a wide variety of foods. I do not believe in restricting myself of any foods, but rather enjoying all in moderation. I still eat the things I love, and I’ve learned that I really love a lot of healthier options too. Food is fuel, and I now look at my choices of what I am eating in a much more positive manner.

I currently run five to six times a week, and my mileage is anywhere from 24 to 30 miles a week. I am signed up for four half marathons in the upcoming fall and winter, and I am currently working with a coach to reach my goal of running a sub-two-hour half marathon. I am also hoping to run another stroller half marathon with our daughter this fall. I also hope to run my first marathon in 2022 or 2023. I turn 40 in 2023, and I can't think of a better way to celebrate 10 years of running than with my first marathon... or maybe second by then.

These three running tips helped my weight loss be a success.

→ I found my ‘why’. Find your purpose that gets you out the door each day to stay committed in your journey. Find the reason that drives you. For me, it is being the best version and the healthiest version of myself for my family, and to be a positive role model for our kids. I want them to grow up having a healthy relationship with food and enjoy being active!

I stayed flexible. Allow yourself to be flexible in your approach to your weight loss goals, running goals, etc. Life is a journey and there are many ups and downs, good days and bad days. Life happens, and it's okay to reschedule, readjust, make modifications, etc. The important piece is to stay committed to the end goal!

Find something you love and go after it! I didn’t love running at first, but after a few months (and years!) I fell in love with how it makes me feel. I have a desire to show myself what my body is capable of. You have to enjoy the process and the journey to ensure it becomes a sustainable lifestyle.

There has been so much up and down with my weight over the years, but overall I have lost 65 pounds in the past eight years. Losing weight was the initial big motivator in my weight loss journey, but the way running has helped me feel physically and mentally is so much more important. Running has helped build my confidence and is no longer just something I do for weight loss; it is part of my lifestyle. As a full time working mother, running allows me that “me” time each morning before work to help get me going for the day. It helps me to be the best version of myself for my family and is also a great activity we enjoy doing together.


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