The past week, I've covered food A LOT. Today, I want to focus more on exercise - specifically cardio - more specifically walking and running.
One of the easiest, most effective, cheapest, and one of the lowest impact cardio exercises you can do is walk. I'm not talking about a leisurely stroll in the park, either. When I say walking, I mean at a pace that raises your heart rate and gets the blood pumping through your veins. The best way to gauge your walking is to use music. If you have access to an iPod, MP3 player or an equivalent - now is the perfect time to put it to use. Download a selection of fast tempo music. I use the Biggest Loser Work-Out Mix, which is available on iTunes for $9.99. It has twelve remixes of popular songs that each last about 5 minutes. What I like about the music is that the beat on each song is very easy to hear and walk to. You don't have to use it - any fast beat, high-tempo music will do. Try to opt for selections where it's easy to hear the beat so it's easy to walk to.
Now, you have two options when walking. If you own a treadmill then you can walk from the comfort of your home, if not then you can walk at a local track. One thing to keep in mind - try to find a place to walk that has a flat surface. It's not good for your knees or ankles to be walking on rocky, uneven terrain. A walking/running track at a local park or school will be perfect. I started out mixing my walks between the house and the park. If I was unable to get my work-out in during daylight hours or there was bad weather, then I'd walk on the treadmill later at night. Now, I do what I can to fit my walks in either early in the morning or in the late evening before it gets dark. I find it so much more enjoyable to be outside. I'm not sure if it's the fresh air, or the fact that I have no interruptions, or maybe it's the scenery. I don't know - but I do know that walking outside not only helps me get a great work-out, but also really helps with my stress. I find that if I've had a bad day or an extremely busy day, going to the track for a walk makes all of my worries disappear. Being out there clears my head, allows me to think more clearly, and then take on the challenges that lay ahead in a more productive way. Now that I'm able to, I've moved away from walking and pushed myself on to jogging and running. There are still days where I mix some walking in - because it's still an effective work-out and a relaxing one - but for the most part, I now stick to jogging and running.
Walking was pretty difficult in the beginning, so it was such a joy to make the jump from walking to slight jogging. By just adding a little bounce to my step, I was burning more calories - and making a giant leap towards actually being able to run. After that, I started jogging for longer intervals. If you're starting out the way I did, the most effective way to working up to jogging is by timing yourself. The best way to time yourself is to invest in a cheap stopwatch. I wrap it around my wrist, and then I can monitor how long I'm jogging for. There's a routine out there called Couch 2 5K. It's a work-out program that focuses on walking/running timed intervals. I used a similar approach with my walking - but didn't follow the C25K program. Being that jogging really was such a challenge for me, I started out with 30 seconds of jogging with 2 minutes of walking. At first, that was tough. Just going 30 seconds was extremely difficult for me. After a week or two, I found that I was finally able to do the 30 seconds. Once that happened, I upped the jogging to 1 minute and kept the 2 minute of walking. Then I moved up to equal ratios. During bootcamp, I was able to get to the point where I could do a slow jog (a bounce to my walk) for up to 30 minutes without walking. That's only because of the strength training I was doing - so it may be easier for you to just keep increasing your intervals. Once I reached the point of being able to jog for long periods of time, I decided I would try running.
Running has been something I've been working on for the past several months. I started out with a mission before bootcamp started to run a mile in less than ten minutes. Well, even though I'm still not at that point, I'm well on my way. Just seven weeks ago, I made it through a mile in just under 15 minutes doing mostly walking. Six weeks later, I finished a mile - jogging the whole time - in just 14 minutes. Now, a week later, I'm running a mile (with jogging intervals) in just under 13 minutes. Could it be that by the time I finish bootcamp for the second time, I'll be able to reach my goal of the 10 minute mile? It sure is looking that way. Now, I'm still using a jogging to run ratio with my running - because I'm still not to the point where I can run hard for a full mile. My ratio is now 2 minutes of running to 1 minute of slow jogging. I find that with that 1 minute of jogging, I'm able to run a lot faster during my run time. Of course, I want to be able to run the whole mile - and I will get there.
If you're starting out in similar circumstances as I did - barely able to walk a few feet without being out of breath - then there really isn't a more effective way to change things. I credit my first 20lbs of weight loss to my walking every day. Yes, the eating played a big part of that - but you can't lose weight in a healthy way without burning calories by exercise. If you've been reading my blog thinking "I can't do all of that", then don't....just start out slow. If you can, walk every day for 15-20 minutes. Even if you don't get any work in with weights - some exercise is better than no exercise. You'll soon see after a couple of weeks that things get easier. Just DON'T GIVE UP!! Even if you are only able to walk for 10 minutes...try to push yourself to walk for a few more minutes. The key is to push through the pain - that's the key to progress. You'll find that after you've pushed through the pain, you get second burst of energy - and that will carry you through to get the job done.
That's if for today. Tomorrow, I'm going to share some ideas on how to deal with cravings. If you're a person that gets those pangs for chips, ice-cream, or sweets....you're in luck. I've found delicious and healthy substitutions that will keep your crave monster happy - while keeping your body happy as well.
Till next time. ;)