Get SMART: How to Walk Your Way to Weight Loss
There’s something very appealing about walking to lose weight. Any kind of exercise can be beneficial to your overall wellness, but the fact that something as gentle and enjoyable as walking can also minimise your waistline still seems somewhat surprising. Nonetheless, by taking a few key actions, you can take to effectively, safely and consistently lose weight through your walking routine. The name of the game is to stay motivated, burn more calories than you consume (3,500 calories less for every pound of weight you want to lose) and to look after your wellbeing.
1. Keep a close eye on your diet: It sounds simple, but the key to avoiding over-eating is to be aware of what you are eating. It’s all-too easy to lose track of exactly what and how much food you consume, so make a record of everything you eat and drink so that you can keep on top of things. The main idea is to just record everything and raise your awareness, but if you want to record the calories each item contains then that’s great. Still, keeping a food journal will help you realise how much you are eating and ask yourself “Do I really need to eat this?” Moreover, once you’ve worked so hard to eat well, this will motivate you to keep walking for weight loss – and, once you’ve worked so hard exercising, this will further motivate you to eat well.
2. Measure the distance you travel: Tracking your walking distances helps you to compare different routes and gradually increase your distance. This, in turn, enables you to burn more calories which, as you can tell, is absolutely crucial if you are walking to lose weight. Driving the route in your car can help you measure your walking route if you reset the milometer beforehand, but this won’t be terribly helpful if you are walking off the beaten track. Luckily, there are a number of route-mapping websites available to help you plot out your walks, or you can always use a pedometer when you’re out and about. This device counts each step you take by detecting the movement of your hips.
3. Keep track of your walking: While a food log is helpful in motivating you to eat well and keep on top of your calorie intake, a walking log motivates you to keep going, set goals and track your progress. When you are filling in your log, there are a few common stats you could enter: the date on which you exercises, the distance travelled, how long it took, your speed (which you work out by multiplying our time by 60, and then dividing the distance travelled by that number i.e. Distance/(Time in minutes * 60)), how many calories you burned, and a daily reading of your weight and/or measurements. Some people find it easier to use a spreadsheet format for tracking their walks, while others prefer to jot down numbers in a journal or on sticky notes that you can put on your fridge. Find whatever works for you, and stick with it!
4. Set SMART Targets: Setting a target or goal and achieving it will work wonders for your wellness, as well as your overall progress. However, setting lofty targets that you will never achieve is actually a quick way to demotivate yourself, so you need to be SMART about things. This means setting goals that are:
- Specific – Decide precisely what you will achieve.
- Measurable – If you can’t measure it, how do you know you achieved it?
- Attainable – Start small and gradually make targets more challenging.
- Realistic – What is really attainable at your current level?
- Timely – There must be a date for target completion not just an endless ambition.
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