Are you trying to lose weight? Are you running to shed a few pounds? But are a bit lost? Don’t worry, I would be too. That’s why I have teamed up with my friend Manuela Dietzinger who runs in my OCR team Munich Elite Warriors and at Adidas Runners Munich. While I met her when she was already super fit and fast, I recently found out that she once weighed around 60 pounds more than she does today. And who should give better tips about sustainable weight loss than someone who has achieved exactly that. If you enjoy my interview with Manu (and her recipes at the bottom) make sure to follow her (@trail.icious) on instagram.
Tell me something about your former self?
I used to do a lot of sports when I was younger. I did gymnastics, played Volleyball, skiing, snowboarding, sometimes running. But when I started high school and my apprenticeship I stopped completely. And I gained weight. At my highest weight I weighed 84 kg. And the rest of my lifestyle was pretty unhealthy too. I was a smoker and regularly drank even alcohol. And I did not see the need to change it.
So when did you realize you had to change something in your life and lose weight?
One day my sister told me she was starting Weight Watchers and asked my to join her when she came round for brunch. I declined. When she tracked her food she told me: “Now I’ve eaten enough for 2 days”. That got me thinking. And a week later I joined.
What did you then do exactly and how fast did you see your weight drop?
I used the Weight Watchers program and followed it consistently. I downloaded the app and tracked my food. In addition I started cooking by myself instead of using their ready made meals. I started in January 2013 and lost weight immediately at around 0,5kg per week. By August I had lost probably 16-18kg.
What motivated you to continue?
Actually the weight loss felt really easy and good. I did not need to motivate me, being disciplined never felt hard. You might not believe it, but I always felt really accomplished when I didn’t use all my available points for the day. Studies have shown that the body releases endorphins when you are disciplined and reach a goal. I guess that is what happened to me. But not only did I lose weight. Soon after I also stopped smoking and drinking alcohol at all. I now just drink alcohol maybe 1-2 times a year.
What were the reactions of your friends and family to your weight loss?
Because the weight loss happened so quickly, a lot of them were super surprised. Most of them congratulated me on my achievement. This was also super motivating. But there were also things that were hard. I got some negative feedback. People thought I had gotten an eating disorder because I lost so much weight, or they were just jealous. But the overall feedback was great.
How is your diet now after the weight loss?
I don’t track my points anymore as I did before, but I still follow the Weight Watchers principles. It is based on a low fat diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, fibre and proteins. I now love to cook healthy things, trying out new recipies and experimenting in the kitchen. I’ve also started eating a low carb – or healthy carb. For example I usually replace sugar and starches in my cakes with healthy sweetners like Erythritol. But usually I go with the flow. I now know what and how much I can eat. And that I work out a lot now also helps. Plus: I try to not eat after 7p.m.
Speaking of working out: What and how did you start?
During the Weight Watchers program you could earn extra points credit by working out. That’s why I started running. I also enjoyed Zumba a lot. My boyfriend also got me into cycling.
But the real change of my body and my lifestyle came when my friends introduced me to obstacle course racing. It is so much more fun to do it in a team. Then I started to train harder and more consistently. I probably lost an additional 7 kg and replaced body fat with muscle mass. Through OCR I also started trail running, which is my absolute passion right now.
Do you take any supplements?
Not a lot. I take magnesium and minerals on a daily basis and amino acids during races. I also don’t use protein powder. I prefer using egg whites in my dishes, even in my home made protein shakes.
What are your best tips for losing weight with running?
First of all: find something that you like, because then you will stick to it. If you don’t like running, you’ll find something else. Second: Before your start running, You need to get the right shoes. Go to a specialized running store and do a video analysis. This will show you what type of shoe you need. Most sport stores will offer you a free return if you are not happy with your shoes. For running try to start slowly, even walking is allowed. To lose weight it`s optimum to do you running workouts 3 times a week with around 30-45 minutes. You can do a longer run on the weekends. Don’t let anyone tell you how fast you should run in the beginning. Just run as you like. After a while you will get faster. I also recommend running in the morning on an empty stomach, or just on some coffee. This is great for fat loss. But don’t forget to drink a little bit water before! You can run in a group for extra motivation if you want to. But running on your own also has advantages. It is less stressful, you are independent when, how long, how fast and where you can run. Just lace up and off you go. Also get a running watch, activity tracker or running app like Runtastic to track your progress. It can also be really motivating to have a virtual running group with your friends where you can see each other’s stats. I find it really motivating to see how much my friends are running. And when you have trouble motivating yourself: sign up for a race! Racing is fun, and you will stick to your running plan with a goal on the horizon.
How has losing weight changed your life besides the sports and nutrition aspect?
Shopping for clothes after losing weight is so much easier now. I don’t have to try everything on, I just know my size and that it will fit. Online shopping is great for that. Also people tell me that I am a friendlier, more relaxed person now.