Last March, I embarked on a “mission” to lose thirty pounds, and after 16 weeks I finally hit my goal this past Tuesday. Tomorrow, I’ll be publishing a post about the overall experience, but for this particular post, I wanted to elaborate a bit on just one very important aspect of my weight-loss adventure – exercise.
As we all know, one of the main keys to losing weight, besides eating less and eating healthier, is burning calories. Some type of calorie-burning, aerobic exercise is essential for successfully losing weight. For myself, I chose to vigorously walk every day. The great thing about walking is you don’t need a lot of expensive sports equipment or a gym membership to begin, just a good, supportive pair of walking shoes or sneakers. It’s also VERY helpful to have some type of device to record your steps. My iPhone health app records my daily steps, but others use Fit Bits or other such accessories. Health experts recommend 10,000 steps (5 miles) per day as part of a comprehensive weight-loss program. That may sound like a lot, but you can build up to that goal gradually. My daily average when I started in March was 6389 steps per day (SPD) and I gradually increased my daily average to 10,025 SPD by June.
Where to walk? Walkers can get creative. I used to work in a building with very long hallways, which was ideal for power walking during inclement weather and hot spells. However, my company relocated to a new building last summer, which is much less conducive to walking. As an aside, our new building is located at Rochester Tech Park (RTP), which was originally the mammoth Kodak Elmgrove manufacturing plant where I started my career at Kodak forty-three years ago. What remains of Kodak now leases a few small areas at RTP. Unlike the old days when a person could walk the entire plant without going outdoors, some of the 11 huge buildings have been cordoned off, like our present building. We are located on the second floor of Bldg. 5 and I found I could walk outside to Bldg. 2, traverse through that very long building, and exit out of Bldg. 1 for the short walk outside back to Bldg. 5. If it’s raining, it’s only a short walk outside to Bldg. 1 and I can do most of my walking inside, down the long hallways of Bldgs. 1 and 2. If I take two walks at work, and walk the dog when I get home, I generally have the 10,000 steps I need by the end of the day.
You might be thinking that walking is pretty boring. It’s actually a peaceful time to clear my head and commune with the Lord in prayer. Initially, it was also very enjoyable to once again walk through Bldgs. 1 and 2. I worked in those two buildings from 1976 until 1988. Kodak Elmgrove started out with six massive buildings (the number would eventually climb to 12) and the other five buildings all supported Bldg. 2 (358,000 sq. ft.) where thousands of employees assembled various models of Kodak cameras and projectors day and night. The central aisle of Bldg. 2, coined “the strip,” was always FULL of people busily walking to and fro. It was so busy, that as a 19-year-old stock clerk, I was initially so afraid I was going to run over a pedestrian with my fork-truck. Now, the building is mostly empty and I usually walk that same aisle (240 steps/200 yards long from north to south) without seeing one soul. So many memories (see photos below).
A short time ago, it occurred to me that I could use the walking time even more productively by listening to podcasts. I began by holding my iPhone, but soon tired of that. I needed to join the 21st century and get some wireless earbuds! I took a drive to one of the local Best Buy stores and the clerk helped me pick out a pair of inexpensive wireless earbuds. Ah, the best! Now I can take my long walking jaunts every day while listening hands-free to sermons from John MacArthur, our church’s pastor, and others.
The checklist for setting up a daily walking regimen is pretty basic:
- Good walking shoes
- Some kind of device to record steps and progress over time, i.e., Fit-Bit or smart phone health app.
- A safe route. Caution is important! My sister’s mother-in-law was a daily walker until the day she was struck by a USPS mail truck and suffered debilitating injuries.
- Optional entertainment such as listening to podcasts, music, audiobooks, etc. via a smartphone and earbuds. Obviously, walking with earbuds requires great caution if you’re near traffic.
Get started with your daily walking or other aerobic exercise regimen today and get healthier!
Postscript: As part of my overall exercise plan, I also incorporated short, 15-minute weightlifting workouts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at home using dumbbells. I drew upon my knowledge and experience of lifting weights several decades ago to craft these short sessions for muscle toning rather than for bulking up. I would recommend that most people on a weight-loss campaign just stick with aerobic exercise like walking, cycling, stepping, or swimming (jogging is REAL hard on the joints). That’s where you’re going to get the most calorie-burn for your efforts. But a little anaerobic weight lifting (you’ll definitely need expert instruction if you’re new to the activity) will also have your muscles burning extra calories.