Walking

Schedule: Consistency is important. In the beginning, plan to walk 30 minutes for five days a week. If your lifestyle has been sedentary for quite some time, it may be safest to let your doctor check you out before beginning. Don't try too much too soon. It could result in injury. I only hurt myself once - by doing sprints during my walks. The first time I tried that my legs became sore but after the second time my knee joints felt bruised. For one painful week I could only manage to stroll on level terrain while my body healed. Jogging requires more specialized knowledge than walking; sprinting can be dangerous if you don't know what you are doing.

I began walking indoors and moved outdoors after about three months, gradually increasing my time to 45 minutes. Including hills in your walks will burn more calories and strengthen muscles but may require you to temporarily reduce your time.

I have adjusted my schedule to the seasons. During cooler months I walk in the afternoon. During the hottest months, I usually walk in the evenings, always wearing light colored clothes for safety.

Shoes:

Wearing the right shoes is the most item of clothing for walking. I have worn $9 K-Mart, $20 Dr. Schollís, and $70 "new balance" shoes with good results. In addition to fitting well, shoes should be lightweight and flexible. I also wear two pairs of socks to reduce the likelihood of getting blisters.

Tip: when climbing hills, think "stairs". Hills require a different stance than level ground. In order to maintain "Heel-first", you have to imagine that you are going up stairs. Heel-first prevents toe and foot cramping. On a few occasions I have forgotten this and ended up with bruised toenails, which take several months to be replaced with new nails.

Reliable bathroom scale & Calendar:

You need to be able to measure your progress. Initially, I used the medical scales at work. But even when I emptied my pockets, 3 to 4 pounds of clothing was being added. I eventually found a digital bathroom scale at K-Mart with a lifetime battery for about $35. (The cheap mechanical scales are an aggravation to keep zeroed.)

You also need to record your progress. Until I bought my bathroom scales, I recorded my weight in a database. Afterwards, I started recording my weight on a calendar in my bathroom. I weigh myself when I first get up in the morning and just before going to bed. My "official" weight is the first one but the second gives me an idea of what to expect in the morning. I also make notes (a circled W means I walked that evening). As a result of recording my weight, I noticed that Monday's numbers were higher than Friday's and that my lowest weight for most weeks occurred on Thursday. In the coldest part of the winter, I found that I had cut back on walking and the swings in weight between morning and evening was greatest.

My weight loss record as recorded in my database:

01/27/99: Began weight loss plan
03/05/99: -10 pounds
04/26/99: -20 pounds
06/02/99: -30 pounds
09/07/99: -40 pounds
10/12/99: -43 pounds

This isn't drastic weight loss but it has been steady over time, with only mild swings upward.

Hands:

Yes, hands. I discovered early that if I walked for 30 minutes or more and ignored my hands that I developed mild swelling in my fingers. Iíve tried several techniques to prevent this annoyance. All involved keeping my fingers curled. Making a slight fist works, but perspiration makes it the least comfortable. For a while, I carried a watch in one hand and a small Maglite in another. In less than a month I wore the finish off of the cheap watch so I began wrapping both with imitation chamois. Eventually I took two 1-pound weights from a wrist/leg weight set and wrapped each in paper towels, securing them with rubber bands. The weights strengthen your arms, burn up to 25% more calories than without, and help climbing hills when I swing my arms vigorously. Occasionally, when I my legs are unusually tired, purposefully swinging the weights helps me keep moving. As with time duration, I gradually built up to the one-pound weights. Iíve tried 5-pound dumb bells and wrapping two 1-pound weights together, but this causes me to grip them tightly enough to make my forearms very sore. With the 1-pound weights I can hold them more loosely and still control them. When swinging your arms, it isnít necessary to over exaggerate unless you are climbing a steep hill.

While weíre discussing fingers, hands, and arms I might as well mention that you should make sure you relax your shoulders. I noticed that I tensed my shoulders in the beginning and had to consciously relax them.

Clothes:

You can start out wearing comfortable street clothes. After several months I purchased a few pair of sweat pants and sweat tops (for cold weather). The sweat pants are better suited for serious walking. You may need a cap for sunny days but be careful of wide brim hats. Some hats do not allow air to circulate very well and will cause a lot of discomfort.

I also started wearing one of those "fanny packs" to carry mints and a watch. When I go to a walking event it is also a handy place to carry car keys and my drivers license. I sometimes also put a couple of weights in one of the pouches when preparing for an event.


Foods

Limit Carbohydrates:

Most everyone understands that sweets are converted to fat if not immediately burned. A soft drink (soda or pop) can contain the equivalent of 9 or more teaspoons of sugar. I also avoid Aspartame, because, among other things, it causes me to crave sugar! But did you know that your body treats all carbohydrates like it does sugar? Pasta, breads, potatoesÖ I have not cut out all carbohydrates Ė Iím just more selective. Fiber and other nutrients are essential for a healthy diet. I also take multi-vitamins for men (avoiding iron), as well as, vitamin E, and vitamin C supplements. I also take an aspirin each morning. It is important to eat something with vitamin supplements.

Water: Drink lots of water.  Water contains no calories and takes up room.  Add about a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of cold water before, during, or just after your evening meal.

Cole slaw: cabbage (or packaged slaw), broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper, dill pickle, tomatoes, and your favorite salad dressing Ė I do not use fat-free or diet dressings. (Lettuce salads seem to always give me indigestion and are not as filling.) Any of the ingredients are optional with me except the cabbage and broccoli.

Snacks/munchies: I started using Edaís Sugar Free "Icy Peppermint" candy because it does not stick to the paper. But I continued to use it because it satisfies my munchies. They are really great when Iím walking and my throat gets a little dry.

Dannon Low-fat yogurt: Yogurt is a great addition to your diet and there is definitely a difference in brands. I can almost eat a bowl of Dannonís Low-fat yogurt by itself. It can be added to other meals but one of favorite is a blend of Yogurt, mashed Tofu, a tablespoon or two of honey, dry Quaker Oat Bran (sold as a Hot Cereal), and Peanut Butter. One of my favorite brands of Peanut Butter is Smuckerís natural crunchy. Most of the oil is one the top. Instead of mixing it back in according to the instructions, I pour out those extra calories. If you read labels of different brands, you should have no problem finding a Peanut Butter with at least as much protein as carbohydrates.

Non-fat cottage cheese is a good addition to nutritious and tasty meals. I often mix cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, Tofu, most any cooked meat, and a little of my Cole slaw. It is delicious, filling, and seems to burn off during the day. I eat a 2 or three pound bowl of this kind of concoction for breakfast and am not hungry again until my evening meal.

Tofu is much maligned. It is, however, a wonderful part of a diet when understood. Tofu, or soy bean curd, has little if any taste. When I began to think of it like egg whites, I was able to incorporate it into enjoyable meals. The secret of using Tofu is spices or flavorings and combining it with other foods. High in protein, it is a healthful food that will help you loose weight.

A few Spices that I use to enhance the taste of Tofu - and other foods:
Cavenderís All Purpose Greek Seasoning
WD Brand Cimarron Steak Seasoning
The Corning Collection Chicken & Meat Seasoning
Zatarainís Concentrated Shrimp & Crab Boil Ė a liquid & is hot
Cumin or Rosemary add interesting flavor. Rosemary is the herb that gives sausage its distinctive taste.


If you have read this far, it is certain that you are serious about loosing weight and/or getting in better shape.  Whether you use all, part, or none of my plan I believe that you too will be successful! 

GSN (Get Started Now)

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