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How Minimalist Shoes Helped Me Lose 25 Pounds

by Dan Hinckley » on Oct 13, 2011 2

A little over a year ago I was in some of the best shape of my adult life. I was running 10 to 13 miles at a time 4 or 5 days a week. I was healthy, skinny, and overall loving my daily journeys. The only thing that was getting to me was that pain in my knees and back would surface after a run every now and then.

At the time I was running in traditional running shoes and assumed that it was something that all runners experienced and paid little attention to it as overall I felt healthy and was accomplishing a lot with my runs.

trail running

I use to look something like this when running…

Towards the end of the summer of 2010 things started to change. We were living in a townhome we had purchased a few years earlier but were quickly outgrowing it as we had our 3rd child a year earlier. Our two dogs also made the home start to feel crowded. We knew that we needed to find a larger place for our growing family but unfortunately the housing market was not at a place where we wanted it to be.

Out of nowhere we receive a request from an individual on the Washington Redskins to rent our home for the season (We live close to Redskins Park and a number of Redskins live in the area). We quickly took them up on this request as it gave us an incentive to move our stuff out of our home and start looking for our own place.

Because we needed to move out of our home so quickly to allow our new renter to move in before the start of the season, we decided we’d move into my wife’s parents home for a couple months while we shopped for a single family home rental.

I never knew how much of a physical impact living with in-laws can have on you. I love my in-laws and it was not anything particular about them, but while living there I quickly lost the hour and a half I was previously dedicating to running each day. I stopped running but did not stop eating. Before I knew it I had gained a ton of weight, was out of shape, and felt and looked terrible.

After we moved out of my in-laws and into an amazing single family home, I was sure I’d start running again. It was during this time that I first got a pair of Vibram FiveFinger KSOs and a number of other minimalist shoes, but it took me a bit before I was able to start to really make a change again and get back to a healthier lifestyle with longer runs.

Time for Action

I don’t think I’ll ever forget stepping on the scale and instead of it showing my weight it just displayed “FAT!”. Okay, so maybe that’s not exactly how it happened, but it may as well have. I’d gained too much weight and needed to take action. I’m the type of individual that when I try and lose weight, if I don’t see a lot of progress quickly, I get discourage and struggle to maintain my efforts. To help me accomplish this goal I looked to Tim Ferris’ 4 Hour Body.

In the 4 hour body Tim covers a diet he has called the “Slow-Carb Diet” which has helped people successfully lose 20 lbs in a month. I’m a huge fan of Tim’s previous book, The 4-Hour Workweek, so I decided I would give his diet a try.

What I’ve been eating

The Slow-Carb diet has many similarities to Paleo or other diets except that it focus more on protein (and beans) than anything else. The main idea is to eat the same meal 3 times a day for 6 days a week. A typical slow-carb diet mail includes a meat, beans, and lots of vegetables.

For the past 4 weeks I’ve been following this diet closely. I have had to eat out a couple times but was able to direct the meetings to places like Sushi where I was confident the small amounts of rice I’d eat wouldn’t have a major impact on my efforts.

slow carb meal

A Typical Meal on the Slow-Carb Diet

The Golden Day Off

I mentioned that the diet calls for eating the same 3 meals 6 days a week. But what about the 7th day? The 7th day of each week is what Tim calls a “Free Day”. On this day you can eat anything you want, in any quantity you want. He describes in his book why this approach actually helps with weight loss, and so far I’m convinced that he’s correct. I have been doing my best to save my cravings for my weekly free day. Some of the things I’ve eaten on my day off each week include Snickers, Ice Cream Sandwiches, McDonalds Breakfasts, and burgers from Five Guys.

Minimalist Shoes and Weight Loss

Besides helping me with my running form and allowing me to stay injury free, minimalist shoes also played an unexpected part in my recent success. The workouts have pushed muscles that had gotten weak and their soreness reminded me daily of my long term goal to lose weight. As I walk around I am reminded of my goals by the slight muscle pain I have in my lower legs from my workouts.

After each run I feel accomplished because I ache a bit. When I ran in traditional shoes the only parts of my body that felt pain after a long run were my knees. I thought at the time this was a symptom of being old and something all runners experienced. Feeling old only made me frustrated and even slowed down my overall progress as a runner. Sometimes I would take a day off because I felt my knee was swelling. I don’t have that problem any more.

For me, aching muscles make me feel young. When I was on the high school basketball team I often ached after practice and now I feel similar after a long run in FiveFingers or other minimalist shoes. It may seem like a stretch but aching muscles after a workout make me feel closer to 20 years old than my actual of 30.

Since I started my weight loss efforts I’ve been running 4 or 5 times a week. With most runs I add an extra half mile to the overall distance of what I ran previously. I sometimes will run the same distance I did the day before but instead will increase the pace, hoping to shave off 30 seconds from each mile I run.

At first I ran 1 mile, then 1.5, 2 and so on. I’m almost up to 4 miles a trip now, and this has just been over the past 4 weeks. I’m hoping to get back to 10 miles a run over the next couple months, and I will also be adding swimming into my workouts as the weather gets colder.

Conclusion

Healthy diets that are low on sugar and white carbs (like Paleo and Primal) lead to weight loss. My efforts to diet and get in shape by running in FiveFingers, Merrell Trail Gloves, or other minimalist shoes have helped me gain confidence, feel young, and lose 25 lbs in 4 weeks. I’m confident I can get back to the physical condition levels I was at a year ago and I have the energy to achieve those goals.

How have Minimalist Shoes helped you achieve your goals?!

Submitted Comments

  1. Rick Felt says:

    Thats awesome! I’m doing the Paleo thing right now and really dig it. There isn’t a cheat day, although I do cheat on occasion, but I love the reasoning and logic behind it… feels very natural.

  2. Dan says:

    Yeah, I think I’ll shift to the Paleo diet once I get down as far as I’d like to drop. Paleo feels more like an everyday eating lifestyle. Slow-carb is really a quick weight-loss diet.

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