I got off the couch!
Move! If you want to lose weight, you have to burn calories, and to burn calories, you have to move! Yes, of course your body burns some calories even when you’re sleeping, but you burn more calories when you move. I developed a strategy specifically for myself. I chose the simplest and easiest thing that a person can do for cardiovascular, aerobic exercise. I chose walking. Not running, not jogging but walking. I chose walking for several reasons. First, it doesn’t require much in the way of preparation or gear. A good comfortable pair of walking shoes and comfortable, appropriate clothing. Over the years, even before this successful year of weight loss, I have been a big fan of walking. I have walked inside at climate-controlled walking tracks, and I have walked outside in nature. It is a matter of personal choice, but I much prefer walking outside. It doesn’t matter if it’s really hot or really cold, as long as it’s not raining or snowing, I walk outside. I have three main places in a rotation where I do my walking. One of them is the neighborhood near my home which has sidewalks and very low automobile traffic. The next is the Richland Creek Greenway behind the Publix grocery store where I shop. The third is Crockett Park in Brentwood, Tennessee which has a fantastic Greenway. From day one of this journey, I used my Adidas Runtastic app on my iPhone to track every single walk. A couple of months into this journey, I traded in my old iPhone for a new one and also got an Apple Watch which has been a fantastic addition to my fitness regimen as it greatly enhances tracking metrics for all of my walking and fitness activity. In the first six months or so of my year, I averaged about 4 miles per day and between four and five days per week of walking laps. And then… the pandemic shut down came upon us and with not much else to do, I started walking seven days a week and started averaging more than 4 miles a day, sometimes 5 to 6 miles a day, and on occasion 8 miles per day. Both my Runtastic walking app and the iPhone health app in conjunction with my Apple Watch helped me track all of my daily movements and specifically my lap walking, heart rate, calorie burn, etc. I can go back and look at the actual data to see my progress.
I started this particular weight loss journy on August 6, 2019. If you know anything about Nashville, Tennessee and the south in general, you know that August is usually our hottest month of the year and yes, I did almost 100% of my walking outside in one of these three locations. First of all, I simply prefer being outside and having something more interesting to look at than the interior of a gymnasium. On those rare occasions when it’s raining or it’s below 30° and walking outside just is not an option, I take advantage of a couple of very nice facilities here in Nashville that are close to my home and free of charge! Sevier Park Community Center and McCabe Park Community Center have fantastic walking tracks elevated above their gymnasium floors which are free for walkers. Second, being outside with hills, inclines, heat and humidity forces the body to work harder and burn more calories, and expel more carbon dioxide and more sweat. On those very rare occasions when I had to walk indoors at a track, I always felt cheated at the end of the walk when I had not had to fight against any inclines, had not had to persevere against the elements and never broke a sweat. Trust me, at 305 pounds, with a typically hot nature and being in August, I was quite miserable and was definitely feeling the heat, but I know that it was worth it. In time, I simply got used to it and now I don’t even give it a second thought.
Walking all of these miles has done several good things for me. It has certainly helped me lose these 120 pounds. It is also help to build muscle mass in my legs, something that really is a side benefit. Walking is a low impact activity that is not likely to cause joint damage, like jogging or running. It also doesn’t cost anything to step outside and walk laps around your neighborhood or in a park or on a Greenway. No membership fees! Just a good pair of shoes, a good outfit, and maybe a little investment and an Apple Watch or a Fitbit and downloading a good fitness app on your smart phone. One of my other favorite things about getting outside and walking is that it’s my time to think and pray. I put my earbuds in, start walking, and this becomes my time to think through whatever problems or challenges that I am facing, working out in my head, pray over things and come up with plans and solutions. It’s also one of my preferred times to pick up the phone and talk to my mom. When I started walking regularly in the neighborhood near my house, people started noticing. I have had multiple people in the circle where I walk who have met me outside and commented that they’ve been watching me over the month and have noticed my weight loss and have congratulated me… Which is always welcomed. This could also be a good time to tune in to a radio news cast to keep up with what’s going on in the world, although these days that can be depressing when everything you hear is about the pandemic. Walking is not only a corner stone of my physical fitness and weight loss, it’s also my best “me time.“
There is a right way to walk to make this work. First and foremost is personal safety. Find a place or a rotation of places where you can walk in physical safety where you are not likely to be hit by a car or accosted or in other ways brought into danger. When it comes to earbuds, I recommend against listening to music while walking as that can take your attention away from your surroundings and make you more likely to be subject to injury. Most of the time, I listen to the news, talk radio or I simply have the earbuds in my ears to make it easier to talk on the phone. Next, when you’re walking you need to walk with enough speed to get your heart rate up. My resting heart rate is around 60 bpm. My average walking heart rate is between 95 and 115 bpm, so a very good elevation above my resting heart rate. My pace is almost always the same. I walk at a rate of 3 mph which is 20 minutes per mile. This pace is fast enough to elevate my heart rate, burn calories, but not so fast that I cannot carry on a conversation with someone walking next to me or on the phone. The most important things to know about walking is that it must be done consistently and with some volume. If you have not ever been a lap walker, start slow and build your way up. Start out with walking 1 or 2 miles 1 or 2 days a week and then increase that until you are walking 2 to 3 miles 2 to 3 days a week and eventually get yourself up to something where I am where you’re walking 4 to 8 miles 4 to 6 days a week or more. Start where you are and build your way up. Be consistent. Don’t give up.
At the bottom of the page, at the end of the day, weight loss is a two-sided coin. One side of the coin is calorie restriction and the other side of the coin is calorie burning through some form of physical activity. Walking laps is a great way to burn several hundred extra calories every day that you walk. In addition to the extra calories burned, it is great for your cardiovascular system. My laps have helped me burn anywhere from 500 to 1,000 extra calories every day, so it has been a key component to my successful weight loss.
For those interested in my weight loss journey, I’ve started sharing details on my new platforms. Follow me on Facebook at Weddings and Weight Loss and on Instagram @WeddingsAndWeightLoss. You can also go to my website, WeddingsAndWeightLoss.com.