Walking your way to weight loss

After ten years of yo-yo dieting, detoxes, quick fixes, unused gym memberships and stacks of high intensity aerobic workout DVDs, I decided to ditch it all for something a lot more simple… and cheaper: walking!

Three months ago, after my latest craze, the 30 day juice detox, I decided that enough was enough. I would stop trying to find the fastest way of losing weight, and replace it with the most effective. I joined a gym and quit the very next day. Now, I understand that the gym works for many people, but for me, it just wasn’t happening. I found the gym environment intimidating and honestly rather dull, and lifeless, which isn’t something you expect from a place you go to to lose weight or tone up. I felt like just another gym robot, on a pre-programmed production line, completing one set of routine exercises after another. My embarrassing trip back to the gym the very next day was reminiscent of that episode of Friends where Chandler (supported by Ross) tries so desperately hard to quit the gym, but instead Ross signs up.

In I walk, so confident of my new found hatred for the gym and there I am met with two personal trainers, one male, one female. “Hi, how can we help you?” the woman asks. “I need to cancel my membership”, I demand. “Oh, no! Is there something wrong?”, “No… I just… don’t like the gym”. “Oh, let me take you around for the…”. “… tour? Yes! I’ve had the tour, thank you! I’ve seen it all. It’s great, but it’s not for me”, I snap back. She smiles, and the man now steps in “How about I show you this fantastic new machine we’ve just had installed…?” ENOUGH! I marched into the office, spoke to the manager, tore up my contract, and then marched home again. And that’s where the idea of power-walking was born. That march home was the most exhilarating exercise I had carried out in a long time. The next day I went online and ordered some ShapeUp trainers (which are supposed to shed an extra pound a week!), downloaded the Nike+ Running app and filled my iPod with a selection of high intensity workout tracks.

Three months later, and I am two and a half stone lighter. Granted, it’s not the worlds quickest way to lose weight, but it works. The weight comes off gradually and stays off. You tone up, and shed inches from everywhere! Walking has become such a huge part of my life, I’d honestly be lost without it. It was always the obvious choice of exercise as I’m a huge nature/outdoor junkie, but I had, for the longest time, laughed off the so-called benefits of power-walking. I’d believed that to lose weight, one must use machines and heavy equipment. Nonsense! Using your arms and your legs and your natural surroundings is more than good enough to shed those pounds and ditch those muffin tops.

My power-walking journey began with small, short walks of thirty minutes around my village, reaching a 3.0-mile per hour (mph) pace. Since then, I’ve been expanding the walks each week by adding on extra routes, and increasing the speed. I now power-walk into town (that’s 10 miles), with an average of 4.0-4.5 miles per hour, five times a week (resting on weekends). In that time, I usually burn around 1200 calories, which means that that’s almost my entire days food.

Power-walking is a simple and effective way of achieving weight lose, but is also fantastic for your mind. I’ve never felt happier than when I’m out walking. Don’t forget that you can vary your walk by adding small hand or ankle weights, or even increasing your walk to a jog in small intervals – this will actually trick your body into burning more calories, because your heart rate will constantly be working to cool down and build up again.

If, like me, you’re looking for a more natural way of losing weight and achieving overall fitness, I highly suggest power-walking. It’s incredibly an addictive form of exercise, and along with a calorie controlled diet, the results are spectacular. Just remember that weight loss is a gradual process. Don’t be fooled by fad diets that actually do more harm than good. Ditch the gym and enjoy some of this beautiful weather by taking your exercise outside. You won’t regret it.

Have you found a workout that works for you? Share your weight loss tips and success below in the comments section.

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