Tag Archive | Fitness

Healthy life for life

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I want to lose weight. Not much. About 3 kilos more.

But the exercise, change in sleep patterns, drinking more water, alcohol-free days are not a short-term strategy to lose weight. I am not doing this for a set period of time or just until I get to my desired weight and then saying to myself, “Done, made it. Can stop walking now.”

This is about for the rest of my life. Being healthy. Having a healthy lifestyle. Having a routine, doing things that I do, because one does them.

For me making drastic, holus-bolus changes immediately, on all aspects, won’t work. The changes won’t translate into real, life-long changes, into new routines, into ways of being. And it will be like punishment, like deprivation. As well, I am unlikely to remember all I am meant to do and will surely slip-up as I forget some aspect. So gradual change, decreasing what I am doing wrong, increasing what I am doing right, is working. Eg, I increased my daily water consumption in October last year, this month I added two alcohol free days a week. And this is how I am approaching decluttering – one step at a time, slowly, with daily action. All making it doable.

I don’t have a great desire to do exercise, and I don’t like sport. But when I haven’t done my walk or weights, and I am sitting around slothfully, I do now feel like I should do my exercise. So that’s good, right? And that gets me going. I know it has to be done.

I would love to be like Ilona, also known as Mean Queen, from the north of England and be active and do walks like this in my 60s.

Of course, when I am slimmer I will be moving along on my road to gorgeousness. And then I will action the next stage of my journey to gorgeousness, health and organised living which will be to have the most gorgeous house and garden and to travel.

Today’s decluttered item = I love the colour of this jacket – the orange that was the colour of 2012. And it was light so I could wear it in summer, a bonus as most of my jackets are for cool and cold weather. But I just wasn’t happy how it sat on me. Every time I’d get it out, put it on and look in the mirror, I’d end up putting it back in the wardrobe. Why? Why keep it if I am not going to wear it? So away, maybe to someone who wants/needs a lovely jacket!

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Walking is not enough. Lift some weights

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Walking is not enough. For fitness, for health nor for weight weight loss.

Lifting weights will help protect loss of muscle tone that comes with age. Walking won’t. More muscle means a higher metabolic rate which means higher fat burning.

Lifting weights also builds bone tissue which prevents osteoporosis. And helps strengthen your core.

I have used the Strong Women books and exercises from my Pilates classes to devise my strength exercises. Every so often I alter the routine in a number of ways: up the weight, increase number, change exercise. I aim to so these twice a week but often can only manage once a week.

Here’s my current routine:

1. Bicep curl: 7kg, 2 sets of 8. I alternate the sets with:
2. Wide leg squats: 2 sets of 15, on the 15th squat I hold and lift my heels alternating each heel for 15.
3. Upward row: 7kg, 2 sets of 8. I alternate the sets of the upward row with:
4. Squats: 2 sets of 15.
5. Overhead press: 7kg, 2 sets of 8.
6. Lunges: 2 sets of 12 to 15, depending on how my legs feel.
7. Triceps dips: 2 sets of 12.
8. Abdominal curls: 2 sets of 8. I alternate these sets with:
9. Pelvic lift: 2 sets of 8.
10. Abdominal curls with a twist: 2 sets of 8 on each side.
11. I finish off with pushup from the knees: 2 sets of 12 to 15.

In between exercises I do some stretches.

Today’s decluttered item = I quite like these sandals and have had them for a number of years. Unfortunately one heel broke (luckily at the end of the day so I didn’t have to limp around) so this is an easy declutter.

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Can walking on different surfaces affect your fitness?

The short answer is yes.

Slightly longer answer: Some surfaces can cause you to work harder, thus burning more fat. Other surfaces can increase you risk of injury which may put a hold on any exercise.

And more detailed answer: let’s look at the main different surfaces.

Sand. Who hasn’t rushed across the soft sand at the beach to the firmer, wet sand? Soft sand makes you work harder and makes you use more muscles. Soft sand also cushions your joints. (And I like to think of the free foot scrub and exfoliation you get when walking bare foot on wet sand!) Unfortunately, there is no sand where I live. This surface is limited to holidays for me.

Grass. As grass is softer than asphalt and concrete, you will burn more calories. And it is softer on your feet and joints than concrete or asphalt. However, there may be a risk of injury if the surface is uneven. Andrew Cate suggests taking advantage of golf courses. This is not for me. I have walked along the edge of golf courses before. I get a crook neck constantly scanning for golfers and flying balls and finish my walk stressed. I have thought about using local sporting fields, but they as usually full of sporting teams training or playing. And I’d have to drive to them, which kind of defeats the purpose. But there are some grass verges where I live.

Asphalt. Softer than concrete, it is still hard on your joints, feet and tendons. On the positive, it tends to be even and predictable, so you can get a steady pace.

Concrete. The concrete footpath is hard for the urban walker to avoid. It keeps you out of the way of traffic, and is generally even, so helps avoid some types of injuries. But it is 10 times harder than asphalt, and has the strongest impact on joints and muscles. Make sure you wear good walking shoes.

As a result of reading about the impact on different surfaces, I am more conscious where I walk. I try to mix up the surfaces and try to avoid concrete as much as you can in an urban setting. When I am on quiet roads, I eschew the concrete footpath and use the side of the road. On one busy road I walk along, only one side has a footpath. I use the side without, so I walk on grass. I also like to walk on bush tracks as the ground is softer than concrete or asphalt but obviously harder than grass or sand. Avoiding injury means less time not being able to exercise.

Today’s decluttered item = a gift. You know you get presents and feel obliged to keep them? You don’t like the gift and won’t use it but feel obliged to keep it anyway. Without going into the whole issue of regifting, some things are just so not you that you couldn’t even regift it as you don’t want the new recipient to think the gift reflects your taste. What to do? What to do? Off to the charity shop. Someone must like it, after all a friend liked it enough to part with good money to buy it to you.

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The real reason you haven’t been losing weight from walking

So you’ve been walking for a while? CHECK

You are walking regularly and for sustained periods of time? CHECK & CHECK

And you feel yourself getting fitter? CHECK

You can do the same distance in a faster time? CHECK

But you are not losing weight? CHECKMATE

Well you are probably making the same mistake I am. You are not walking fast enough. A leisurely stroll won’t do anything, except relax you. And as you get fitter, you need to walk even faster.

My Master of Walking, Andrew Cate, says you should be walking at a pace where you can hear your breath, ie you’re puffing lightly and advanced walkers need short bursts of gasping for breath from doing periods of running or very fast walking. Puffing or gasping can be an indicator of your heart rate.

The MC says beginners should aim for a heart rate of 65% of your maximum heart rate (MHR). You can google what yours should be because it depends on your age. Advanced fat burners need to aim for 65% to 85% of MHR.

For me this means I need to have my heart rate at 114 to 149. Time to use the heart rate monitor that came with my GPS watch, I think.

Ah, but there’s a way to increase the intensity of your walk and increase your heart rate without having to run or jog. Walk up hills! Hills are your best friend when it comes to fat loss and walking. As I hate, hate, hate running or jogging, I will need to seek out the hills in my area, or the stairs, such as you find at railway stations.

Let’s end with a few more questions:

Will you walk up hills and maintain your pace? CHECK

Will you walk more quickly? CHECK

Will your monitor your heart rate? CHECK

Today’s decluttered item = Whatever possessed me to keep this? I don’t know what it is, or from where it came or for how long I have had it. It was with my special/gift things safely stored in the linen press. I think I had a vague notion of using it for fancy dress for my kids. Maybe? Anyway, it is a domed plastic thing, like a Mickey Mouse hat without the ears. But it is very soft plastic so it kind of wobbles in your hand. It is now in the bin. For some things you just can’t avoid adding to landfill.

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2 Simple Changes Help You Lose Weight While Walking

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So what are the two simple changes to walking that will lift fat burning?

Firstly, if you swing your arms when you walk you can burn more calories. Using a more pronounced swing may also help increase your pace. (Honestly, I don’t think I am going to do a pronounced swing but I will do a bit more of a swing. I don’t care what people think but I don’t want to look deranged or like a complete twat, swinging my arms like some super walker who actually ambles along.)

Secondly, do you know if you walk before breakfast you can burn more fat? As blood sugars are low, you burn a higher proportion of fat as fuel. It isn’t a lot but every bit makes a different, right? I am going to try this at least once or twice a week.

I have posted previously in my blog about other mistakes walkers who want to lose weight. This info comes from Andrew Cate’s book Walk off Weight. Let me say, I have no connection to Cate, don’t know him and have never met him. However, I found his book very useful, informative and supportive. You can buy an ebook version here for a very small cost. I think it is worth it.

Today’s decluttered items = Throughout the year I buy random items for my gift store so that when I have to source a present I can reach into my cupboard and save madly running to the store. The problem is I often forget I bought an item, or even where I stored it. I also place gifts that I receive but do not want to keep. So I don’t end up giving the gifts. Years can pass and I have things that go out of date.

This is one such item. I bought a whole lot of these CD holders years ago. They were good gifts with some cash to put towards buying game CDs when my sons went to friends’ parties. But no one uses them anymore.

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Lessons learnt: don’t buy too many items for “just in case”; keep track of the just in case gifts; store these gifts in ONE place, not spread throughout the house.

Are you walking enough to lose weight?

You might be walking everyday and still not losing weight. Andrew Cate says another mistake (see here for the first mistake) that walkers make is not walking long enough.

He says to take a 7 day perspective where you can vary your duration based on your frequency. Every seven days, he says, you should aim for 240 minutes of walking. For example, if you walk 4 days a week, do 4 lots of 60 minute walks; 5 days do 50 minutes; 6 days do 40 minutes and if you are walking everyday do 35 minutes walking.

This seems to conflict with the “not walking enough, walk every day” mistake? However, it fits into my usually busy workaday lifestyle, and is what Dr John says. (Remember Dr John?)

Cate goes on to say that a longer walk is better than several short walks throughout the day as longer walks helps you burn stored fat, as blood sugars are prone to run out on longer walks, forcing your muscles to use fats for energy.

I do my walks in one, longer walk. So that’s good. But even when I do walk 4 days a week, I only made 210 minutes, so not enough. I will add a fifth walk of 30 minutes. That means I won’t miss two days in a row and I will do 240 minutes.

Is not walking long enough one of the mistakes you make?

Today’s decluttered items = A few more things from my clothing collection. I love this skirt but I don’t wear it. I am a little old for it now, I just look silly. Sad to let it go but I haven’t worn it for a couple of years.

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I like this top but it is a little small for me. I will give this to my sister. It is just her colouring.

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Oh, beautiful R.M.Williams soft moleskins. Too tight now. I finally accept I will never get this size again. It was a momentary reaction to dental work which stopped me eating for ages.

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I’m walking, so why aren’t I losing weight?

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So if you’re like me, you’ve been walking quite a bit for a few months and haven’t really lost much weight.

We all know there is no easy fix, no magic pill, no secret to losing weight. But I would have thought I’d have lost at least another kilo or two.

Andrew Cate, in his excellent book Walk off Weight, outlines the common mistakes walkers who want to lose weight make, and how you can avoid those mistakes.

Let’s deal with number 1:

Not walking enough.

To lose weight, Cate says you have to commit to walking every day. He says never miss two days in a row. Mmmm!

Don’t you just hate it when fitness experts say, in response to the argument that you have no time and you have to work 10 or more hours and then come home and cook, clean and converse with family members and then collapse on the lounge totally buggered, “Well, what is more important?” or “Well, do you really want to lose weight?”

Yes, I do want to lose weight. But the reality of work is that I can’t not give it the time it takes. I need my work to pay my bills and my mortgage and save for retirement. And yes, I know my health is more important than work because if I get seriously ill then I won’t be able to work but…actually the balance I have, whereby work takes most of my time and I walk most weeks 4 times a week and do one session of Pilates a week, is the balance I need to maintain my work which maintains my life. If I tip the time into all about me and my fitness, then I can kiss my job and the salary I pull goodbye.

OK, vent over. I get it. I fail. I don’t walk often enough. And if I want to lose weight, I am going to have to fit in at least a half an hour walk every day.

How are you doing on this?

Today’s decluttered item = I bought a new mascara, swayed by the promise that this is the best mascara ever (and first try it did seem to make my eyelashes longer). Instead of saving it for some undefined time in the future and continuing to use my old mascara, which is definitely past its best, I have immediately tossed my old mascara. Do you often stockpile new makeup? While continuing to use old favourites? Or, even more peculiar, store the old favourite in the cupboard, just in case the new product proves not so good, or if new product runs out and you need a fall back? Given every supermarket stocks mascara, I don’t really need to keep old products in storage. (And yes, I know old mascara can spread germs.) Bye-bye, old mascara. Into the bin with you.

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Identify your level of walking

So, you wanna know how you can use walking as a form of exercise to lose weight?

According to Andrew Cate there are 16 different types of walking. Sixteen, who knew!!

And each type has different benefits and a different purpose.

1. Strolling. Slow, casual walking. You can talk without getting breathless and probably won’t sweat. This style good for relaxation.

2. Incidental walking. The walking you do doing your normal day. This has decreased in the modern, Western world. Think remotes, cars, sedentary lifestyle, and is a major cause of obesity. So up your incidental walking! You have been told, people!

3. Moderate walking. Planned, low intensity walk of about 100 steps per minute. You can talk comfortably, your breathing is slightly elevated and you may sweat after 10 minutes. Cate says this is ideal for beginners or the very overweight. Truth be told, and I am not going to lie to you, this is probably the level and type of walking I have been doing for the last 4 months. What does that tell you?

4. Fast or brisk walking. Planned, moderate intensity exercise where you can talk only briefly between breaths. Breathing is rapid and you may begin to swear opps, sweat after 3 to 5 minutes. This type is apparently ideal for fat burning. See here’s one of my problems. I don’t sweat (though I do swear). Instead I get very hot and red in the face. So much so that people ask if I am OK as I look like I am having a heart attack or that I am very sun burnt. I normally only get this way when it is very hot or if there are lots of hills to walk up. To get to this level I am really going to have to take more steps.

5. Power walking. This is an extension of fast walking where you take bigger strides and swing your arms more with elbows at 90 degrees. This burns more fat and works muscles in the upper back. And I think looks slightly deranged.

6. Race walking. This is the walking for Athletics with the strange hip movement and straight legged walk. I count this one out as I know it can cause muscle problems and I don’t want to race. Disqualify me in the first lap, please.

7. Weighted walking. This is walking with weights to increase your load and burn more calories. Cate advises against this if carrying the weights alters your posture or places stress on your joints. He also says avoid ankle weights altogether as they can affect your balance. I have enough muscle issues without changing my walking gait.

8. Shopping centre walking. Is this for real? Walking around shopping centres before they open, with no window shopping! Mmmm. This one’s a bit of a bodgy, I think.

9. Nordic walking. Walking with ski poles which apparently burns up to 45% more calories as you use more upper body and abdominal muscles. OK, I don’t really care what people think of me, but I am not going to use poles walking around the suburb. I’ll be known as the crazy, pole woman. I can do without that epithet, as can my kids.

10. Shallow water walking. Which is, believe it, walking in shallow water. The resistance of the water makes you work harder. Not for me. No access to shallow water.

11. Deep water walking. Yeah, you know. But did you know you can do it with or without a bouncy vest. Apparently this can burn as many calories as running, without the jarring or stress on joints. Going up and down my pool doesn’t strike me as an engaging exercise that I would be motivated to do. In fact, it seems to defeat the things I like about walking, ie looking around and seeing new things.

12. Hill or stair walking. Walking up hills maximises calorie burning. Apparently hills “are your best friend” if you want to lose weight and fat. So watch out hills. I am on my way.

13. Bushwalking. I love doing this with defined tracks. But only if I have a companion. Nature, fresh air, new sights, hills…what’s not to love?

14. Pram walking. Don’t know how my teens would take to being strapped in one. But if you’re a new mum, go for it.

15. Fun runs/walks. Organised events. Not for me. Hate crowds. And I like walking for the time it gives me to be alone and to think and process the day.

16. Walking clubs. Ditto.

So which type of walking will you pick?

Sitting here watching the morning walkers, I can help looking at their pace and style; the serious brisk walkers, the moderate walkers, the strollers, the pram walkers.

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Now it’s my turn. See ya!

Will walking help me lose weight?

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If you’re like me, you’ve been walking regularly and for a fair amount of time but have not lost much weight.

OK, I seem to have stopped that slow, creeping weight gain. And my legs are more toned. But I have not lost the weight I wanted to lose; I still have 4 or 5 kilos to go.

Well, I have found the answer. Andrew Cate in his book Walk Off Weight quotes a study from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ninety-four per cent of people who exercise mainly by walking do not walk frequently enough or fast enough to gain real health benefits. As Cate states, “it’s not walking that’s the problem, but how it’s done.”

In a nutshell, I have to push myself more. Walk faster, walk up hills. God forbid, maybe even do some jogging! It’s not about doing more ks or longer walks, but about raising the heart rate. May have to start using the heart rate monitor I got for Christmas?

OK, I know I will also have to address what I eat and I will do that this year.

The next few posts will be info from Andrew Cate’s book.

Today’s decluttered item = no actual object. I am on holidays. Let’s just say I am decluttering my mind of all the workaday worries and household chores-that-need-doing; breathing in the fresh air; daydreaming; and admiring the view.

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The Wonders of Walking

My preferred exercise is walking. I have posted before how walking energises me and why I enjoy walking alone or with a friend.

There are many wonders of walking that make it a great exercise. The following info comes from Drs Oz and Roizen Speak Out and Walk Off Weight a book by Andrew Cate.

As Drs Oz and Roizen say, what’s not to love about walking? It makes you healthier, gives you more energy, and makes you younger, lets you talk with friends, think through problems, and see what’s new in the neighbourhood. Walking is free. OK, gadgets like my GPS watch are cool, but they are not necessary. And even the most unfit person can do it – just start with a slow pace for a few minutes and build up.

So what are the proven health benefits of walking?

1. Walking protects the heart, lowers blood pressure and helps lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. As I posted here, I need to lower my LDL and total cholesterol levels. I also have a heart condition. Who doesn’t want to fend off the number 1 killer: heart disease?

2. Walking can slim you down. I will post more on walking for weight loss in a future post. 2013 being the year of lean, and all.

3. Walking improves bone density. We know from the Strong Women books, that you need weight bearing exercise to protect your upper body from bone loss, but walking decreases bone loss too, as it is a weight bearing exercise. The weight being you! As your bones respond to the force of hitting the ground and working against gravity, they grow more bone. The benefits will be in your legs and lower spine. As with all exercise, consistency is the key. For bone density improvement Cate says you should aim for 30 to 45 minutes of mild-intensity walking every day, walking more if you miss a day.

4. Walking reduces stress. Studies have shown that walking benefits your mood — and may even ward off depression and anxiety. By changing the focus of my mind from whatever it is that is worrying me, to the repetitive, meditative action of walking and by relieving muscle tension, walking really lifts my mood!

5. Walking can help improve the patterns of your sleep. (I haven’t seen this yet. Improving my sleep hygiene is an ongoing battle in which I self-sabotage myself.)

6. Walking keeps you sharp. According to Drs Oz and Roisen, “physical activity nourishes brain tissue and stimulates its production of neurons, synapses, and blood vessels. Some studies have found that walking can counter faltering memories in people over age 50.” I have a big fear of getting Alzheimer’s or senile dementia – one of my grandmothers died from Alzheimer’s! I know that this is different from general memory loss, but anything I can do, can’t hurt.

7. Walking boosts your immune system. Regular walking can lower your risk of arthritis, macular degeneration, cancer and diabetes.

Today’s decluttered item = I finished this book while on holidays and left it for a friend to read. When she is finished, she will donate it to her church’s charity shop.

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