walking for weight loss

W is for Walking

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W is for Walking

Can you lose weight with just walking? Hell yes you can! Don’t disregard walking. If you’re just starting out with fitness or trying to lose some weight but don’t know where to start, you don’t have to start training for a marathon. It’s okay to start small.

“In studies, Weltman has found that women who do three short (about 30-minute) high-intensity walks plus two moderately paced recovery walks a week lose up to six times more abdominal fat than participants who simply stroll five days a week. (source)”

Walkers are athletes too. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you’re moving your body and trying, it’s a good thing. Walking is good because you can do it almost everywhere and it’s not something you need to plan ahead. It’s easier on the joints than running and you can still burn a decent amount of calories:

“If you walk at a pace of 4 miles per hour (a common pace) you can burn the following amount of calories per minute: 120 lb. person = 4.7 calories; 140 lb. person = 5.5 calories; 160 lb. person = 6.3 calories; 180 lb. person = 7.1 calories; 200 lb. person = 7.8 calories; and 220 lb. person  = 8.6 calories. (source)” 

So if you weigh 160 pounds and walking for 20 minutes, you could burn 126 calories. In only 20 minutes!

If you’re at work, keep an extra pair of walking shoes at your desk so you can go for walks during the day. I definitely recommend that all runners get fitted at a professional running store for the right kind of shoes. The same goes for walkers. It’s usually free and they will help you pick the shoes that are right for your body. It makes a huge difference! Check out these old posts about the topic: Tip for New Runners: Shoe Fitting and Is it Time for New Shoes?.

Here are some more tips on getting started and sticking with a walking program:

Find a walking buddy. Most things are more fun with a friend! Find a coworker, neighbor, friend to go for walks with you. Maybe your significant other wants to join you for a brisk walk after dinner–this will give you both a good chance to talk and bond. Another tip — get a dog! 😀

Track your mileage. There are a TON of apps out there that can track how far you walk. There’s MapMyWalk, RunKeeper or my personal favorite–CycleMeter. I love Cyclemeter because it’s accurate and reliable. I used to use RunKeeper and MapMyRun but that was a few years ago and the GPS used to drop out a lot so I never REALLY knew what mileage I did. With CycleMeter you can change it to almost any activity you can think of. It tracks your distance, speed, elevation, so many things! It’s a great tool.

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Track your progress. Use MyFitnessPal or DailyMile to log your  mileage. Not only will it help you keep track of your progress, it can be very motivating! I don’t know about you but seeing it in black and white makes me feel good and makes me want to try hard. It can also help me set goals.

Technology is your friend. There are tons of gadgets out there to help you. If you have a smart phone the above apps I described are great and many are free. If you don’t have a smart phone, you can try a few different things. I’ve never tried it but I have several friends that rave about their FitBit. Pedometers are good, but I don’t know how accurate they are (I always had cheap ones). Finally, there are tons of watches/heart rate monitors out there that track that stuff. Garmin is a great one (and on my wishlist!). If you can’t get a smart phone or a fancy gadget, there are cheaper versions out there–or there is the SUPER cheap option of driving the route in your car and seeing what the mileage is. 🙂

Set goals. Start small. Walk around the block on your break at work, walk for 15 minutes after dinner. The more walking you get in, start making goals that you can work towards. Having specific goals helps in so many ways. It’s tangible and not just an abstract thought like “I want to walk more.” Instead, say “I will walk 1 mile today and 2 miles tomorrow.” Or while you are out walking, set a goal like “I will walk to the corner park and then back.” I do this when I’m running. When I’m feeling like quitting I think, “I’ll just run to that next lamp post and then turn around.” And often times when I get to that lamp post I can keep going.

Add hills. Don’t start doing hills in the beginning, work up your stamina and then start adding the hills. Your heart will start pounding harder and you’ll burn more calories.

Add weights. Back in the day I remember when speed walking was the thing and everyone was doing it and they had hand weights and then there were the ankle weights and I’ve also seen weight vests. Weighing more definitely burns more calories. I don’t know that I would add weights in the beginning, but later once you’ve lost some weight I can see where hand weights would be helpful.

Hydrate! I got a hand held water bottle for running and I love it. I can’t tell you how many times I used to be out on a run, far from home or the office, dying of thirst. There were a few times in the summer when I used to run the waterfront at lunch where I got dizzy and almost passed out because I was dehydrated and overheated. In the summer I mix 1/2 Gatorade and 1/2 water in my running water bottle. It was the best $20 I could spend. So take your water with you when you walk!

You can also Prancercise. 😉 You’re welcome!

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Speed Up. Not in the beginning. Listen to your body and wait until your stamina builds and walking is easier. Once you’re doing it on a regular basis and maybe it’s getting a little boring, spice it up by walking faster. You never know, speed walking may turn into running!

speedwalking

Recently I went walking with a coworker during lunch. She’s trying to lose weight and got a FitBit to track her steps. She loves it that thing! It’s encouraged her to walk more and that’s great. Anyways, it was a nice sunny, warm day and we walked for 30 minutes. It reminded me how much I like walking. I used to walk the Hawthorne Bridge every morning into work (nearly 2 miles) and I also walked during my lunch breaks. I got pretty fast at it and could walk from the office all the way to PGE Park and back during my lunch break. I did so much walking and then my knees starting acting up and I quit walking. I realized just how much I miss doing it and I vowed to get back at it! It’s relaxing and exhilarating at the same time. AND IT’S FREE!

Are you a walker? Any tips? 

A-Abstinence * B-Balance * C-Calories * D-Vitamin D * E-Emergency * F-Fast Food and Fine Dining * G-Gym Bag * H-Happy Weight * I-Intervals * J-Jumping * K-Keeping Sane * L-Losing Weight * M-Measuring Mistakes *N-Nemesis * O-Open * P-Plateaus Q -Quitting * R-Runner’s Knee * S-Support * U – Unattainable * V – Victory *

The Secret to Weight Loss is…..

…..get a puppy!

It’s no secret that there are a ton of benefits to getting a pet. I can’t tell you how many times Fat Kitty has made me feel better when sad or upset. He just seems to KNOW when I need extra attention and cuddles. But there are other benefits to getting a dog that I never thought about.

Besides the companionship and the fun of training, the benefit of getting a dog is frequent walks. I used to walk a lot. Before my knee issues. I’d walk nearly 2 miles in the morning to work, I’d walk during my lunch break, and I loved it! I’ve definitely missed all the walking. Walking wasn’t really about exercise for me. It was more about stress-relief and time for contemplation. I’ve missed my walks.

Now that Bella is in our lives and she’s super active, I’m back to walking! Michael kindly took the morning shift because he’s a morning person and I am so not. So in the morning before work he gets up and takes Bella for a walk and bathroom break. At night, it’s my turn. Sometimes we go for a walk together in the evening.

Michael has his morning route with Bella. It takes about 25 minutes to do the loop. In the evening I usually take Bella to the little forest near our house. It’s got lots of things for her to sniff and investigate.

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I also sometimes just play with Bella in the yard. She LOVES her Chuckit! ball. Nothing else compares. I got her a frisbee and Michael got her a football shaped dog toy and she couldn’t be bothered with either. She just adores that one toy. It’s fun to play fetch with her because she does so well with it and she gets some of her crazy puppy energy out!

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Sometimes when I’m out in the yard playing ball with Bella I just run back and forth down the length of the yard (which is very large) to get her to run with me. Then I’ll jump up and down to get her to jump. She loves this game! And I could easily be out of breathe from a few minutes of that!

My goal is to work with Bella on pulling the leash so that she walks beside us instead of pulling. We got one of those face harness leashes (not a muzzle) and it helps a lot so does her dog walker. She’s been working with Bella on the things we’ve taught her. It’s great to have more positive reinforcement and after just a few months of this I’ve already noticed a huge difference with Bella. She doesn’t pull on the leash like she used to. I started teaching her “heel” (which she kind of gets) and her dog walker is working on that too. The fact that our walks are so much more pleasant is a great thing. It was pretty disappointing when we first got her and it felt like she never listened to us.

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My ultimate goal is go running and take Bella with me. I think she’d be great at it. But right now with the leash pulling and her puppy energy I think she might kill me on a longer run! 🙂 I’ve taken her running a few times and now that I’m training for a 5k I think I’ll have the opportunity to take her out more.

I’m also considering signing up for the Doggie Dash here in Portland. It benefits the Oregon Humane Society. For years I’ve donated to a friend’s team that raises money for the humane society–a cause I can get behind. But this is the first year I’ve considered participating. It’s on May 10th, so plenty of time to get into dog walking shape! The only concern I have is that Bella might get overly excited with all the other dogs and make it unpleasant for everyone. She’s usually pretty good when I take her to the dog park and gets along with all the dogs and people but sometimes when we go on walks she can be a monster barking at everything! It’s really a crap-shoot. Anyways, I’m still trying to decide.

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Right now it’s just walking with Bella and I’m okay with that. It’s nice to just get outside, enjoy the spring air and see the flowers blooming and get a little exercise. Not all exercise needs to be super intense and hardcore. Sometimes just a walk is okay. 🙂 As the flowers bloom and the weather gets a little better (who am I kidding? It never gets better in spring in Oregon…) I see a lot more walking and running with Bella. I’m really looking forward to it! Trust me, it may seem silly that just walking can make a difference but it can. So get out there with your dog and enjoy your walk!