Thursday, December 30, 2010

Don't Ask "How Do I Lose Weight?" - Ask "How Did I Gain It?"

Well, its that time of year again, where the masses start talking about their own mass.  This of course leads to that all time number one New Years resolution - lose weight!  Sadly, most go no further than making a statement and of the ones that take it a step further, only a few will succeed.  Consider these statistics:

Every year 150 million Americans try it, they spend $42 billion to pursue it and less than 30% succeed at it! 

Thats kind of depressing... nothing like a bit of optimism to get you started.

But the fact of the matter is that instead of focusing on losing weight, you should start by figuring out how you gained the weight in the first place.  If you are like most, you gradually added the pounds through a combination of things, mainly eating more and exercising less, in other words your lifestyle has become the source of your weight gain.  Thus, if you can make gradual adjustments to your current lifestyle, you can slowly reverse course in the fat department.  Slowly being a key point, and lifestyle being an extremely key point.

Focus on losing the bad habits and replacing them with good ones!

Do not run out and join a gym or embark on some exotic diet.  These are typically short term solutions because you can't maintain the lifestyle you have chosen.  You may lose a few pounds, but once you return to your previous lifestyle, it all comes back... usually with a few extra pounds to boot. 

Change is hard, thus you have to focus on small but consistent steps that are easy to incorporate into your daily routine.  Anything that is too hard, will usually be discarded pretty quickly.  You need activities that you are willing to do forever!

For example, start taking the steps instead of escalators and elevators.  Park a long way from the entrance to buildings instead of fighting for a spot up close.  If you work at a desk, force yourself to get up and walk around at least once per hour.  These are simple things that get you going in the right direction.  Its probably not enough to burn off any existing pounds, but its a first step.

The next step is to take on some form of exercise that is not a pain in the butt!  Something you can easily do anytime, anywhere.  Think of your current lifestyle.  Does a gym make sense?  You have to get in a car and go there during the normal hours of operation.  Plus, a lt of people just plain hate mechanical exercise.  I of course walk long, hard and fast.  Its easy, works pretty much anytime and I can do it in any city that I travel to.  But it does take a lot of steps to burn off calories.

Eating has to be addressed as well.  You need to be aware how many calories you are bringing in versus how many you are burning off.  (My e-book goes into that.)  You don't have to starve and give up the food you like, just eat less of it.  Too many of us eat because its meal time and/or because we are bored.  These are things you can control if you focus on them.

Eating slowly is a key factor as well.  Some of us simply don't know when to stop.  If you eat slowly, very slowly, and listen to your body, you can learn how to stop before going overboard.

Weight loss is acheiveable, but you must focus on the process and adopt approaches that you can stick with FOREVER.  Do not waste your time on miracle drugs, get skinny quick schemes, intensive workouts that you hate or diets that leave you counting the minutes until you can eat real food again.  Take it one step at a time - EAT Slow and WALK Fast...

1Data compiled from US Census Bureau, WebMD, Journal of American College Of Nutrition, American Journal Of  Public Health.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tis The Season Of Weight Gain - Don't Let It Happen To You

The Christmas Season is one punctuated with decorations, celebrations, gifts, gathering with family and... unintentional weight gain.  We are all so good at using food as the centerpiece of our special occasions, which invariably leads to overeating, excessive calories and to put it bluntly: increased FAT!

But you don't have to let it happen to you if you maintain the balance between calories in and calories burned.

Today I enjoyed a meal of beef tenderloin and shrimp cocktail with a bunch of other fattening side dishes.  So what did I do afterwards?  Sit on the couch and watch TV while complaining about how full I was? NO WAY!  I went for a 5 mile fast walk on the Wrightsville Beach loop. And it felt great.  I may not have burned quite as much as I ate, but I certainly disposed of a good portion of that wonderful meal.

What did you do today?  Gain weight or control your weight?

That is the key - balancing what goes in against what goes out in terms of calories.  Don't let the holiday eating habits grow on you.  You can eat as much as you want, but just be sure to adjust your exercise accordingly.  It's not as hard as it seems, you just have to be vigilante and focused.

Tomorrow, it will be more of the same - the exercise part, not the eating...  ok, thats not totally true, I'm sure there will be more eating opportunities to tempt me!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Hotel Walk - Beating The Weather

I am out of town on business and its still cold...durn it.  But I'm not going to sit on my butt and gain weight, so new walking approach.  I'm at an Embassy Suites in Charlotte, NC, which means 10 floors of opportunity with a view of the atrium. 

Embassy Suites are unique,  because they are built in a rectangular shape around an interior courtyard.  All rooms open to the inside.  No hallways, just balconies on each floor that run along the inside perimeter of the courtyard.  And in many cases, the atrium is a combination of eating areas and water gardens.  Thus, each floor is kind of like a walking track with a view.  Pretty cool unless you have issues with heights and I do, but this ain't bad, trust me. (BTW- the atrium in the picture is INSIDE!)

Today I went with a twist.  Instead of just walking and looking down, I took my Nook e-reader and actually read a book while walking each floor.  And no elevators!  I took the stairs between floors.  Being a weekend, there is very little traffic in the hotel, so no obstructions or hazards to deal with.  Nothing worse than accidentally bumping a little old lady over the rail...

Hotel walks may not be conventional, but they work!  Weight management is a game of consistency, so you gotta do whatever you gotta do to stay on track.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I Hate The Cold!

The coast of North Carolina is supposed to have a mild climate in late November early December.  Not so this year - its cold (at least by my standards).  Give me 95 degrees any day of the week, forget this 30's and 40's thing, topped off with a frigid wind - ick!  Guess losing all that extra insulation has a few downsides, huh!

So much for my great days walking at the beach - its all I can do to walk at all.  I know, I know, here I am making excuses, when I constantly preach against that.  So, its either start gaining back the pounds, starve myself to death, or find an alternative.

Ok, first step is that I pulled out my Under Armour winter gear cause it does work.  And thats fine as long as I'm not dealing with the icy winds, though the concept still stinks in my world, cause its the experience and enjoyment of being outside that keeps me going, not the concept of walking in general.  So I have solved the issue of cold, just got to deal with the motivation factor which is really low right now. 

So its back to finding inside locations when the outside doesn't work.  And being the Christmas Season, the Mall works pretty well.  You can get a lot of traction without braving the elements, though you do have to watch for the wide eyed masses wandering aimlessly through the mall who don't pay a bit of attention as to where they are going or who they are stepping out in front of.  Running over a little old lady is a great way to escorted out of the mall by security which means back to dealing with the winter... did I mention that I hate the cold?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

If No Pain = No Gain, I Must Be Superhuman!

Ok, so I got some new shoes since the last pair was killing my shins due to the soles being blown out.  I figured a 6 mile walk was just the thing to break them in... yeah right, well the only thing that really got a good dose of breaking was my feet - BLISTERS!

You just can't win!  From shin splints to over sized blisters, there always seems to be some kind of pain issue going on here.  But its still better than being fat! 

Blisters heal and shoes do get straightened out pretty quickly.  The real issue here is my lack of planning.  Its not like I don't go through this every 3-4 months when I have to replace my shoes, just this time I figured I would take a shortcut. Bad idea, especially when there is a fairly simple solution to this problem.

Ok, so what is the solution?  Sit on the couch and avoid exercise...NOT.  Prepare your feet for the onslaught by using Moleskin. Basically its a large area padded bandage, but what makes it so unique is that it will actually stick to your skin and survive the rigors of power walking without coming loose.  The trick is to figure out where to apply it BEFORE you get the blisters.  Its obvious afterwards, but then its too late.  This may take some painful experience to get it right.

So what if you already got the darn things, then what?  Again, sitting on the couch is not an option.  Don't look for excuses not to exercise, figure out solutions to keep on track.  You can apply Moleskin over an existing blister, but, it can be a real mess to remove it later, cause its going to pull all that loose skin with it. 

One trick I use for using Moleskin over a blister, is to first apply a small does of vaseline to the blister itself, so the Moleskin won't stick to it.  Works pretty well and keeps me on the go.  I've also been known to just forego the moleskin and go with a heavy dose of vaseline.  Kind of icky to tell you the truth, but I've gotten some decent results. 

If you are just starting out with casual walking, you probably aren't going to have a lot of painful blister issues initially.  Remember that I walk to the extreme at a very fast pace for extended distances, so don't start looking for a reason to avoid this simple exercise options. 

If you do have worries about getting blisters you might also consider Runners Lube, which is a product designed specifically for lubricating the skin to prevent blisters and chafing.  There is some good info about this subject at

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blew Out A Flip Flop

@#$% another pair of walking shows relegated to the circular file.  Its weird to throw away something that looks great on the topside.  But once you turn them over and look at the soles you understand whats going as they look like a set of 50,000 mile radial tires going on 80,000 miles... no tread and a couple of holes to boot! 

Now being the cheap skate that I am, I resist buying new shows until the last possible moment and even then it takes a fair degree of extra motivation, usually in some form of physical discomfort to get me to do it.  Such was the case this time around as I had developed a serious case of shin splints, making it miserable to go more than a few miles at a time.  Not good for maintaining my daily pace. 

I know by now, that shin pain is the first indication that my shoes have reached the end of their usable life.  Looking at the soles, I can see that there is a lot more wear on the outside edges than the inside edges.  Obviously, when I walk I am putting more pressure in those areas of the my shoes.  As they wear down, my feet become angled to the ground instead of parallel to it, which puts extra stress on the tendons, muscles, etc that run up through my shins, which in turn causes the pain.

So, a new pair of shoes is the key, as much as I hate to admit it. Keep this in mind if you are having a lot of foot or leg pain.  There is a good chance its the shoes.  This is one of the easiest excuses NOT to exercise, but in most cases there is a simple remedy.  If you want to be successful losing weight, you have to find solutions to challenges, not excuses to avoid them.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why Is It So Hard To Lose Weight?

Why is it so hard to lose weight?  I think I have a simple answer: because people choose methods that aren't fun.  Bottomline, if it ain't fun, you won't do it for very long.  Thus, the average person HATES losing weight and doesn't stick with it.

I figured out a long time ago, that you have to use methods that you can live with forever if you want to have any real chance of losing weight. (Read my book!) Weight loss comes in small increments over a long period of time.  Only with weight loss, you never finish, as its something that you have to commit to forever.  The day you quit your weight loss program is the day you start gaining it all back.  Thus, its needs to be FUN, easy and doable!

The average person has no concept of what it takes to lose weight outside of TV commercials (usually worthless products) and poor quality advice which translates to heavy duty exercise and icky diets.

Listen, I still eat what I want, though in much smaller quantities.  Yes, I did cut out some of the really unhealthy stuff, but I did not force mself into some kind of unsustainable diet composed of foods I hated.  I also did NOT join a health club - ick and I don't run - doesn't turn me on.  I walk and walk really fast.  Plus I choose locations with great views to make the time enjoyable and then throw in some fast moving music with a great beat to keep my feet moving at high speed.

Thats they key! Making it fun so you can stick with it forever.  Weight Loss is not a short term thing, its a life changing decision. 

I successfully lost the weight and have kept it off without a lot of trouble.  Sure, I see a few fluctuations here and there, but I am confident enough in myself and my methods that I can burn off any unwanted pounds that try to sneek back up on me.

I'm here to help and hope that my experiences can help you reach your goals.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Weight Management - It's More Than Just Losing Pounds

The C word can be kind of scary - cancer that is. 

In September I had a strange growth pop up on my face.    Naturally it showed up only a couple of weeks AFTER my annual skin exam.  I thought it was a wart - on my face - the worst possible place - how embarassing.  So rather than being a normal guy and ignoring it, I went back to the Dermatologist to have it removed.  Only it wasn't a wart, it was a squamous cell

At the time, I didn't know much about it and the Doctor didn't shed any additional light on the situation, other than the "speciman" was going to the lab.  Nothing new there, I have had quite a few skin "things" removed and sent to the lab and of course the results were always negative (a good thing).

But this time was different.  Two weeks later I got a phone call saying the results were positive (a bad thing) and I was being referred to a MOHS (skin) Surgeon for further treatment.  Very little details, but obviously that little facial thing was turning out to be a big deal.  Though no one used the "C" word or the "M" word (malignant) I knew the truth of the matter.

Squamous cells are the second most common form of skin cancer, right behind basil cells. However, the danger with squamous cells is that they have a tendency to spread to other parts of the body if left untreated.

Long story short, the MOHS Surgeon was able to easily remove all of the cancer cells while only leaving behind a huge hole in my face.  Okay, it was pretty small, but seemed huge to me. 

When it was all done and over (well the hole is still healing) two things stood out in my mind: 1) We caught it early  and 2) They commented that my excellent physical condition was a bonus in dealing with it. 

So my message to you is that you need to be very vigilant in regards to any strange growths on your skin and you need to focus on being healthy and energetic, as it will go a long way in helping you to fight off serious health risks. 

Losing weight is really about improving and managing your health, so if you haven't started a program yet, here is one more compelling reason to get cracking.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Walking In Central Park

I am in New York City for a couple of days, which means the opportunity to walk in Central Park, which ranks as one of my favorite spots in the country for burning off calories. 

Since I am with one of my daughters, I didn't want to subject her to my idea of a great walk (high speed).  Instead, I decided to make it more of an enjoyable stroll. 

We took the subway from our hotel on 35th to the Museum of Natural History Station and entered the park there.  The first phase was a walk up to Belvedere Castle, which meant a nice uphill climb.  From there, we went down to the Boat House, then around the Model Boat Pond, before ending up at the Zoo.  My pedometer showed five miles. 

Exiting the park at the southeast corner, we decided to walk back to the hotel - 24 street blocks and 2 avenue blocks.  No problem!  Great walk - great calorie burn.  New York City is best seen on foot, and this was just the first of many opportunities to do just that.  This is also a great example of how to maintain your weight management program when traveling, as pretty much every city offers possibilities if you take the time to look.

Here is a link for learning more about walking in Central Park -

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Great Walking Spot - Mt. Pleasant Memorial Park

I was back down in the Charleston, SC area today.  Instead of walking over the Ravenel Bridge, I decided to walk under it.  The Mt. Pleasant Memorial Park is located beneath the Bridge and is another great walking spot on my list of locations across the country.

The main feature (in my opinion) is the pier that runs out almost to the shipping channel.  It's parallel to, and in the shadow of the Ravenel Bridge, which gives you a really neat perspective on the Bridge.  As I reached the end, a freighter passed by, just a stone's (if you are an NFL Quarterback) away. The distance from the parking lot under the bridge to the end of the pier is about 1/2 mile.  It makes for a very pleasant walk or run.

There are also sidewalks heading out in two different directions from the park.  I chose the one that winds past Patriot's Point Naval Museum, the Submariner's Memorial and the College Of Charleston athletic fields.  The distance to the roundabout with the Statue is 1 mile each way, which makes for a decent calorie burn.

Of course, I wanted at least 4 miles, so I did the pier twice as well as the sidewalk tour.  One interesting aspect, was the signs that warned of coyote's in the area.  Who would have thought...

By the way, parking is not free, but not expensive either.  I paid $1.00 for 1.5 hours.  Worth it without a doubt.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

View From The Street - Beer Guts On Display

Why is it that guys with bulging mid-sections think that coming to the beach is a ticket to put all that mass of fat on display?  Look, (or better yet don't) there isn't anything attractive about a beer gut, or whatever you wish to call it, so why stick it out there for everyone else to admire.  Just because you can take your shirt off in public doesn't mean you should.  What ever happened to modesty and good taste? 

I don't have much of a gut anymore as a result of my walking habits, but even I don't bare the midsection very often in public, as I don't think its polite to subject others to what lurks beneath.

I just don't get it - these guys act like a beer gut is a badge of honor or something.  In reality, its the mark of a future coronary...  Or maybe they are just totally oblivious.  And what about their wives and girlfriends?  Why don't they speak up?  Oh wait a minute - most of the female accomplices are wearing thongs, when they should be in full body coverage attire...

Oh well, not my problem - I can always find something more appealing to look at like roadkill.

Hey, its stuff like this that makes me chuckle and keeps my walking fun and interesting.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Great Walking Spots - South End Of Wrightsville Beach

I decided it was time for a new walking challenge.  Wrightsville Beach is great, but I do the loop so much that its becoming borderline boring, which meand I need to change the scenery a bit.  Sooo, I started out as normal at the Museum and Visitors Center, but after crossing the Banks Channel bridge, I took a hard right in front of Tower 7 and headed south - way south - final destination: Masonboro Inlet, also known as the South End.
The distance down (from the Visitors Center) is just under 3 miles and there are plenty of sidewalks along the way.  But of course, I prefer walking in the street and do most of the time.  Nothing like daring cars to run over me!  But with a speed limit of 15mph and lots of short one way streets, fast cars is definitely not a hazard.
Like many walking tours, you find all kinds of neat little things along the way, stuff you don't normally see in a car.  For example, way back in the dark ages, there used to be a Trolley that ran from Wilmington over to the beach and then down the island.  Though the system was discontinued many years ago, the trolley stops are now marked with plaques.
You also get a good look at all the contrasting architecture that Wrightsville has to offer.  Classic cottages next to multi-million dollar mansions and all kinds of unique landscaping including the house with the water running through an oriental garden.

 Further down you pass the South End Surf Shop, a new business that just opened in the summer.  It too has a bit of history, as the building that houses was built in 1941 and was for many years the Glenn Restaurant up until Hurricane Hazel devasted the building in 1954.

From there its only a few more blocks to the Southern Terminus of the Island - Masonboro Inlet.

So my entire route for you locals looks like this: Visitors Center to Tower 7 on the loop, then straight down to the South End, reverse course back to the loop at Tower 7, then continuing in the direction of Johnnie Mercers Pier and finally back to the Visitors Center. 

Total distance = 5.5 miles.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Broke My Walking Speed Record Again

The Wrightsville Beach Loop is my regular walking location.  It's 2.25 miles around with lots of great views.  I normally do two loops nonstop - thats walking not running.

Over time, I have gradually increased my speed and endurance levels and now find myself in a race every time I hit the loop.  Not a race against the other walkers, but against myself - actually against the clock.

Though my top level pace is 4.5 mph, I don't normally start out that fast, and have to work up to it.  My personal best time to date has been 1 hour and 5 minutes for two laps (4.5 miles total).  Well today, I ramped up my speed pretty was able to shave two minutes off for a new personal best time of 1 hour and 3 minutes for the 4.5 mile walk.

Don't forget, it was only a couple of years ago that 15 minutes of walking at 3 mph left me breathless. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Obsessed With Weight Management?

So my wife has accused me of being "obsessed" with my wieght management tactics.  I think obsessed is a bit over the top, since that is what those people with eating disorders and workout addictions are - totally consumed.  I prefer to think I am "conscious" and "aware" of what I need to do to maintain my weight. 

Hmmm, maybe hobby is a better word than obsessed?  Of course, that tends to imply that weight management is something that I do in my spare time, which really doesn't work.  But I can't be obsessed!  Just because my pedometer is glued to my body and I almost never go to bed without having accumulated the minimum number of walking steps for the day, isn't strange is it?  Just because I eat slowly and only when I'm hungry, thats not bizarre, right?  Just because I track my results and never quit, that doesn't seem to suggest I'm going overboard does it?

So hobby doesn't work and I refused to be obsessed, so maybe we can go with focused?  Well, it will just have to wait till later, cause I got steps to walk to reach today's goal, so its time to get moving...

Obsessed! What a ridiculous presumption...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

When The Time Is Right

Its important to figure out what time of day works best for you in terms of exercise. Unfortunately, your body's energy level doesn't always fit your work schedule. For example, my energy peak seems to be between 11am and 3pm, which means thats the best time to burn off some calories. But, that also is in the middle of the work day. As a result, many days I forego eating lunch and go walking instead, though its not always practical. One thing I do know, is that if I wait too late in the day, my energy levels start to drop pretty quick.

My point is that you need to get a good grasp on your peaks and valleys when it comes to energy, cause if you schedule exercise when you are at the low point, you either won't do it, or won't do it well.

It's just another point to consider because if you don't feel like exercising, it becomes a simple process to convince yourself that you can skip it today.

The more excuses you use, the less you will lose!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

View From The Street - Posers

Its amazing all the stuff you see when walking.  By being on foot and moving at a pace that lets you take note of your surroundings, you really pick up on a lot of things you might not normally see.  There's the normal stuff like historical markers, picturesque views, snakes on the sidewalk, drunks in the alley, etc. and there are the comical things like "posers."

A poser is someone who tries to give off an impression of being something they are not.  For example, true surfers are quick to notice the ones who wear the clothes, talk the talk, adopt the look and even buy a board, but never set foot in the water. 

Well posers ain't limited to the waves!  The other day I noticed a couple in their 30's (who were actually pretty fit) drive up to a parking lot on the Wrightsville Beach loop and hop out of their BMW.  Nothing significant about that, except they were loaded to the gills with all the proper accoutrement's for jogging.  The perfect clothing, the assortment of water bottles mounted on the waste belt.  The high dollar shoes, the gold plated ipods, the designer sunglasses.  The term Yuppie Jogger (yogger???) comes to mind.  I mean they were decked out, looking deadly serious about jogging.

Then came the extensive warm up routines.  They stretched 1000 different ways for at least 15 minutes, making sure they were in full view of everyone that passed by.  It was a really big production. 

Then they strutted up to the sidewalk, posed for a moment side-by-side, looked at each other and appeared to count down to zero then off they went, in a perfect cadence.  (Boy did they look stupid).

So I laughed a bit, then started out on my 5 mile walk, without hundreds of dollars worth of hardware and designer goods, just my trusty shoes, shorts, t-shirt, pedometer and zune.  Less than a 1/4 mile later, I passed by them.  They had switched from running to walking - barely.  But they were walking in step with each other and making an animated production out of looking at some kind of athletic mini-computers attached to their waists.  I snickered and kept on moving, quickly leaving them behind.

I made a detour off the loop for awhile, then rejoined it further down and lo and behold there they were again, moving like robots in perfect synchronization.  This time they were walking fast, but not fast enough, as I easily passed them by at my sustained pace of 4.5 mph.  I never saw them again, but when I finished my walk twice around the loop, I noticed their car was gone, which meant they did one measly lap and left.

Wow, all that preparation for so little health benefit.  I walked twice as fast in half the time with half the investment.  True walking or running requires very little investment, other than time and commitment (and good shoes!).  All that other stuff is decoration nothing more.

Posers, you gotta love them...

Friday, August 20, 2010

Overeaters Anonymous

If you have been reading my posts, you know I have focused on the WALK FAST portion of the blog name.  But the other half EAT SLOW is just important in the game of weight loss, so I must devote some time to that aspect as well.

In my book I go into a lot of detail about calorie control, as you have to strike a balance between what goes in and what goes out.  Obviously for me, the walking takes care of the outbound calorie flow, but how do I handle the inbound?

The first lessson is limiting how much goes in at one time.  Most of us eat too much, plain and simple.  I used to subscribe to the theory that if its good, you can't eat too much.  In fact, the better it is, the faster you need to shovel it in.  The funny thing is that you really aren't enjoying the meal any more by shoveling than if you were to eat petite bites at a turtle's pace.  But once you acquire speed demon syndrome, its pretty much a fixed in place response at meal time.

But speed doesn't really matter does it?  When you are full, you are full, right?  WRONG.  The problem with fast eaters (shovelers) is that you tend to blow past the point of being full before your body has a chance to warn you that you are approaching that dangerous intersection.  Some of us plow right through without any ill effects, while others make a head-on collision with heart burn, indigestion, bloating, gas, and a bunch of other nasty things.  But it never seems to make enough impact to change our eating habits, we just keep on shoveling.

So an inital step on managing your food intake is to SLOW DOWN when it comes to eating.  Take a very small (tiny!!!!) bite of food.  Chew it completely and swallow slowly.  Savor the taste for a moment before taking another bite.  Believe me, its hard at first, but you must force it on yourself.  In fact, you might feel stupid initially, but its a good first step.  If you can stretch out your pace of food intake, you will find that you feel up very quickly.  Or in reality, you will actually notice when your body says - stop, I'm getting full.  And then you have to take the next painful step - stop eating! 

Easier said than done, but it can be done.  And the more you do it, the better you will get.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Losing Weight - You Have To Walk Before You Can Run

A few weeks ago, I lamented about not seeing any fat people in exercise venues like walking and jogging trails.  My concern of course was that those who need it the most are the least likely to be doing it.

Ok, so now I'm out on a power-walking mission and come up on an overweight girl struggling to jog.  Barely loping along, body covered in sweat and face beet red, she was obviously having a tough go of it and looked as if she would pass out at any moment.  Initially, I wanted to applaud her efforts, but I quickly realized that if anything, she was probably wrecking her chances of succeeding in the long run.  If she didn't drop dead from the exertion, she would at the very least think twice about putting herself through that misery again.

Why is it that everyone thinks you have to 1) run to lose weight 2) endure great discomfort to burn calories.  I lost 70 pounds using walking as my main activity.  Sure I walk really fast NOW, but not when I started. (Of course I balance food intake with exercise as well).  My point is that you have to enter into the exercise routine gradually so as to have a pleasant experience rather than a near-death episode.  Walk before you run - literally! 

When I read the stats on weight-loss success, its no wonder that so many people fail to lose pounds in any significant amounts, and for those who do, a large majority gain it back.  Success is about adopting a lifestyle you can live with forever, not an aggressive workout routine that is not sustainable.

To date, I have maintained my weight loss for two years, which means I'm bucking the trends everyday.  But I never put myself in a miserable state that I couldn't live with, so its not too difficult to manage my bulk successfully, day in and day out.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Fitness Mis-step

So I was out-of-town on business this week, which is never an excuse to avoid exercise.  I found a new area not far from the hotel (Mt. Pleasant, SC) that featured some lightly wooded areas with paved paths that intermingled with some nice residential areas - perfect for walking.

Si I was cruising along enjoying the view and burning off some calories when something on the ground ahead caught my eye.  Now it happened to be right at sunset, so it was getting a bit dark and I had to squint to see exactly what it was stretching across the path, as I was fast approaching it.  Suddenly it moved, or should I slithered.  Ick - a snake, and I hate snakes, and I mean really hate snakes.  Cal it an unnatural fear or whatever, but it is what it is, which ain't good for me! 

Being that I usually am walking either near the Beach or in a more urban setting, I had never encountered a snake while doing the power walk, so this caught me totally off guard.  In retrospect, the setting was one that would support a slithery creature or two (obviously) but it still threw me off-guard.

Now I am a wimp when it comes to snakes, and despite this one being pretty small - maybe 24" or so and not exhibiting any signs of being hostile, my walking came to a grinding halt real quick.  No I didn't step on him, but I sure didn't want to get any closer.  Guess he felt the same way, cause he took off as fast as he could.

Now I had a decision to make - turn around and run - stay frozen in position till I died - call 911 - call a taxi - or continue on after skirting the last known position of the snake by at least 100 feet.

I decided to take the risk and move forward.  But noticing that there was a lot of vegetation growing along the sidewalk, I decided to walk in the street instead...  what the heck, I would rather get hit by a car than step on a snake - at least it wouldn't be a surprise.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Get Out Of Jail Free Card

Everybody has a bad week at some point - hopefully that is in the singular form, not the plural - where you ate too much and exercised too little.  You know what I'm talking about... the feelings of dread about getting on the scale and facing up to the reality of the ugly truth that those tiny digits will reveal.  Gee, it can be traumatic at best and almost suicidal at the extreme!  As the weigh day comes closer, the anxiety grows, and for those who respond to stress by eating more, it just gets worse.

So what do you do about bad weeks?  For starters avoid them!  But assuming you are a human being and not an alien life form (though weight loss can make you feel that way) you will have a bad week from time-to-time, its just a reality that has to be faced.  Thus, my solution is to just pretend it didn't happen.  How about that?  Just ignore it and turn a blind eye to your indiscretions and play dumb.  Think I'm kidding????

I'm serious - if you have a bad week, grant yourself a "Get Out Of Jail Free Card" and cash it in when it comes time for the weigh-in.  I know, some of you are jumping up and down and yelling "alright, weigh to go" while others are screaming"denial never works".  I agree with both groups - how is that for playing it safe...

But for real, on occasion, it might be better to skip a weigh-in when you know its going to be bad. Rather than depressing yourself with the real numbers, focus on making up for the bad week with an extra effort, so at least the next weigh-in should be back on track.  However, the concept doesn't work if you decide to adopt it forever, as you are always putting off the truth of the numbers, so don't get carried away.

In reality, a weigh-in should never be a bad thing as it is just feedback about your efforts which can be used to modify your weight loss routine as needed to keep things headed in the right direction.  Its far better to catch a negative trend early than to wake up 6 months later with an extra 20 pounds hugging your body.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Heat Wave Coming - Bring It On

Call me crazy, but I'm looking forward to meeting this forecasted heat wave head-on later this week, when it supposedly gets into the Carolinas.

A couple of years ago, I would have huddled in front of an air conditioner with the blinds drawn along with all the normal people.  But weight loss can do all kinds of strange things to your mind...

Now I welcome the heat, even in the three digits and even with humidity.  Will it slow me down from power-walking every day? Nope.  I'll even go out during the middle of the day.  I know, you think I am being stupid.  But keep in mind that I have been on this track for a while and have developed quite a tolerance for heat.  And yes, I know how to prepare for it and take care of myself in the middle of it.

On the flipside, if you don't do so well with the heat, its best to avoid it, but that is not an excuse to avoid your exercise.  Plenty that you can do inside, like walking in a mall, not to be confused with spending in a mall.  Or what the heck, switch to swimming.

To lose weight successfully, you must have all-weather, all-season solutions.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

But Its A Dry Heat...

Nothing like a warm summer day in Vegas - 109 degrees - but its a dry heat!  As one who lives on the steamy coast of North Carolina, I can respect that little detail, but hot is hot - and I love it!  Shedding pounds means getting rid of insulation, and I can deal with the heat quite well as a result.  But 109 is a bit warm for power-walking, so I chose the early morning when it was only about 90 degrees in the desert.  And yes, I was in the desert, not on the Vegas strip.  The hotel is listed as a Vegas Resort property and to give it credit, if you are on one of the top floors with a pair of binoculars you can actually see the strip. (But it was only a $45.00 cab ride each way... ) With that said, the resort property was top-notch and since it was the location of the conference and trade show I was working, it made sense to stay there. 
The property had its own workout facility, but I hate gyms and chose to get my exercise in by venturing out into the desert heat and doing some intensive walking.  The M Resort has a sidewalk around the perimeter, which is about 1.25 miles in length, so 4 laps was ideal.  And the scenery was pretty cool even if the temperature wasn't.  I don't get to see the desert too often, so it was another adventure of sorts.  Of course I was hoping for some kind of exotic encounter like a set of bleached bones shimmering in the heat, or a giant taratula, or even a rattlesnake sunning itself on a rock... or not.  Instead I got a decent calorie burn in a great setting.

One thing about Vegas, you can't give up your exercise routine, cause you need something to counter the margaritas.  So regardless of the heat, I kept up with my walking, but at least it was a dry heat...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Watching Shoobies

So what's a shoobie you ask?  I had to ask the same question of my children, as they are the ones who brought the term into the house.  Turns out it's a reference to tourists who are visiting our area. 

Now it helps to know that I live on the coast of North Carolina where we are deluged with tourists every summer who come down to visit our great beaches.  Being the good locals that we are, we draw a line between the tourists and ourselves. 

Don't take that personally, its just the way it is.  We love where we live and are proud of it.  And, we have our ways, which really does separate us from the visitors, who definitely stand out when they hit the beach.

Ok, so back to what a shoobie is.  Sadly, we see many visitors who are improperly dressed, and one of the most bizarre examples is wearing socks with sandals and shorts.  I mean, come on, this has got to be the silliest combination of all time.  Why take off the long pants, only to cover back up with socks.  And why would anyone wear socks with sandals?  The wholes purpose of sandals is to go barefoot with a little extra protection for the soles of your feet.

Oh yeah, and I should mention that most of the locals don't wear sandals at all - uncool. Flip flops are king and Rainbows are the most popular brand. Yep, they cost $50.00 but they are a sure fire symbol of being a local.

So that is what a shoobie is - a sandal and sock wearing tourist!    And when I am out walking I see these kind of things routinely.  Of course, it just adds another element of humor to the daily walk, which is a big part of why walking is fun for me.

Shoobie watching while walking - another benefit of daily walking, and you thought it was just about the calories...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Calories Burned Off - Shoes Blown Out

@#$%! Another 90 days, another pair of walking shoes blown out.  So I guess thats not such a bad thing cause it means I'm keeping my feet moving and the calories burning.  But it does get expensive.  I don't buy cheap shoes!  I spent a lot of time testing brands until I found shoes that not only feel great, but actually seem to give me a boost of energy.     Not to sound like a commercial, but I finally settled on the asics brand.  At an average price of $99.00 I end up spending about $400/year on walking shoes, but its a small price to pay for the benefits I get in return.  They don't wear out because of workmanship, but because I wear the soles down to nothing.  In fact, every pair I have worn out looks brand new until you flip them over and look at the bottom.  Keep in mind that I walk a minimum of 35 miles per week and sometimes hit 50 miles, so its really a matter of excessive use, not poor quality.

So by now I'm starting to look like a walking fanatic - maybe I am - but it keeps the weight off and works for me...  And if you are just starting out and my numbers look unachievable, just remember that I didn't start out at that level.  In the beginning, I found 15 minutes of walking 3 days per week to be tough!  I was lucky if that was 1 mile total!  Choose something that works, keep with it, gradually increase your levels, and one day you may find yourself cussing at blown out shoes as well.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Walking Into History

On Wednesday (I was still on a business trip to Charleston, SC) I decided to find a different place to walk besides the Ravenel Bridge.  The bridge is really cool, but the winds were blowing pretty hard at ground level, so I figured it must feel like a small hurricane up there above the harbor.  Besides, I like a bit of variety.  Sooo, I decided to combine walking with a bit of history and headed over to Fort Moultrie on Sullivans Island. 

Fort Moutlrie was a Civil War Fort and now is a State Park kind of thing.  I wasn't planning on touring the fort, but rather walking the grounds, as most Forts I have visited in the past, have some extensive open areas around them.  As it turn out, it wasn't as conducive to power-walking as I had hoped, but I managed to get in about 3 miles over 45 minutes. 

I will say the views were good, as the Fort is on the tip of Sullivans Island right at the entrance to the Charleston Harbor.  That means plenty of water views and I caught a freighter heading out to see.  Of course the Fort makes a interesting backdrop and the breezes were really good.  Oh yeah, and there was free parking!

I know, I know, I am a walking freak.  I do it pretty much everyday and it works.  But as I keep saying, in order to stick with it, there has to be an element of fun and that is my focus.  Balancing this with a lot less food than in my former life makes all the difference.  And another point is that walking can be done anywhere anytime.  No excuses!  Just because I am away from home, doesn't mean my exercise program stops.

Never forget, that whatever you do to lose weight, you will have to continue to do to maintain the weight loss. So choose your methods carefully and make sure its something you are willing to stick with for life.  You will be wasting your time if you lose weight then go back to your normal ways.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Great Walking Spots - The Ravenel Bridge

So today I crossed a bridge - literally!  The Ravenel Bridge in Charleston, SC is a great opportunity for burning a few calories.  Some bright people way back in the planning stages decided to add a pedestrian lane to the bridge to accomodate walkers, runners and bikers.  It makes for an interesting journey up and over the Cooper River.

I gotta tell you, the views are incredible.  You get a fantastic look at the skyline of Charleston, from up high.  You can see down the river to the ocean and watch freighters pass under you as you walk. 

The 5 mile round trip (shore to shore and back) took me about an hour and 15 minutes, even with the uphill portions.  So far it ranks as one of my favorite walking places and works well for keeping me on track when I travel.

If you get a chance to visit Charleston, SC, try to schedule in the "bridge".

Monday, June 7, 2010

Where Are All The Fat People?

That sounds like a nasty thing to say...  But its an honest thought I had while doing a 4.5 mile power walk on Friday. I was doing my favorite walk on the loop at Wrightsville Beach and happened to noticed that all the others (runners, walkers, joggers) were pretty much in shape - there were no fat people.  Ok, so it was 93 degrees in the middle of a bright sunny day - call me crazy, but its my preference - so the heat factor probably was keeping most sane people indoors, certainly the bigger ones cause they typically have a lower tolerance to heat (I know, I used to be there).  But this observation of no fat people is really applicable to all times of the day, not just the furnace phase.

My point is that those who seem to need the exercise the most are the very ones not doing it.  I skim through hundreds of blogs and see soooooo many people complaining about not being able to lose weight, yet I don't see a lot of heavy people on the move.  I lost 70 punds in 10 months and not one ounce came off from sitting on the counch (or the computer) whining about not being able to lose weight.

I purposely chose walking because I can do it anytime, anywhere and it doesn't cost any money.  I can't run due to prior knee surgeries, but I can walk my @#$% off.  Yeah, I had to work up to it over time, but I shoot for a minimum of 5 miles everyday, at an average speed of 4.25 miles per hour. 

So maybe all the other "fit" people that I see in motion on the loop are just like me, someone who was big and now is much smaller.  Or maybe they were born that way and want to make sure they always stay in shape.  Gyms seem to be the same way - full of skinny people, not fat people.

With that said, I do see heavier people once in a while trying to get into walking and when I do I want to applaud.  It would be nice to give them encouragement, but on the other hand there is a good chance they would rather not have the spotlight turned on them, especially if they are self-conscious about their weight, which is understandable.  So I will just say it here "good for you - go for it and stick with it!"

But if you are one of those who finds it easier to complain about your weight than to do something constructive about it I say "shut up and get off your butt!"  I'm a meat and potatoes, semi-lazy guy and when I finally did the same thing, it made a difference.  If I can do it, anyone can.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Two More Following In My Footsteps For A Healthier Lifestyle

Amazingly, I have done several consecutive days of 6 mile walks - 90 minutes in length.  Still hitting the beach area, but not the sand!  On Sunday and Monday two of my kids starting on a walking routine.  Of course they are not at my level by any means, but at least they had desire to follow in my footsteps.  The real test is whether they will stick with it or not.

Unfortunately, my daughter had some serious blisters after two days and took the third day off.  Can't blame her on that!  I told both of them not to overdo it and to keep it fun.  It takes them about a hour to go 2.5 miles, which is ok for someone just starting out.  I would be happy if they could do that about 3 days per week.  I'm really excited that they found the motivation on their own and hope for the best.

I try not to get too overbearing with them - bad habit of mine when it comes to weight loss strategy... bu tI do hope for the best with them.  

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Powerwalking In The Sand - NOT!

Needed a bit of scenery change from my usual walking course - got to keep it interesting you know.  It was low tide, so I figured I would get out on the beach, as thats where I started my walking routine several years ago. 

Wow what a surprise - it felt like walking in mud, though the lower beach was pretty firm.  After doing sidewalks and streets for so long, powerwalking in the sand was going nowhere.  #$%&!  Nice view, nice breeze, but my forward progress stunk.  And of course there were all the obstacles, mis-thrown footballs, slicing frisbies, lost children, an occassional wave that washes up further than anticipated... what the heck, a nice day at the beach if you were there to play.

(Guess I have gotten too serious about my walking - but not so serious that it has become a chore.)

I did a mile or so, but found it difficult to maintain 4.5mph - more like 3.5mph.  So back to the concrete, but what the heck, I got a nice dose of the ocean (literally) and the concrete areas have their own great views, so all-in-all it was a nice afternoon.  6 miles walked in 90 minutes and I enjoyed every minute of it!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Burning Calories While Taking In The View

Walking has played such a big part in my weight loss that you could probably say I have become obsessed with it.  Everyday at 12:01am, my pedometer resets to ZERO so I have to get up and do it all over again (but not at midnight).  Though my minimum goal is 10,000 cumulative steps each day (about 5 miles) I do a lot more on a typical day, easily in the range of 15,000 steps.  Plus, I shoot for a period of fast sustained walking.  Thus, to stay on track I find it quite useful to to find neat places to walk, places that offer a view or experience of some kind in order to stay on course.

One of my favorite spots is the John Nesbitt Loop in Wrightsville Beach, NC.  Its a 2.25 mile course of sorts that wanders  past beach houses, over two bridges and around a beautiful marsh.  The views are simply spectacular, and being one that loves the beach, its paradise for me.

Now I know that not everyone lives near the beach (sucks to be me...) but that doesn't mean there aren't an abundance of walking opportunities where you live.  You just have to go out and find them, cause walking on a treadmill stinks big time... I know, I have one.  That beast requires a huge amount of motivation to get on it.  The beach walk does not.  You figure it out!  If its not fun, you won't do it.

So today, I popped over to the loop and did 2 laps (4.5 miles total) in 1 hour and 10 minutes, which is an average walking speed in the neighborhood of 4.25 mph.  A nice 80 degrees, sunny with a gentle breeze.  Can't beat that!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lifestyle Change It Must Be!

So I started exploring some other weight loss blogs to see what other people are thinking, saying, doing (or not). One recurring theme was moaning and groaning about running, treadmills, eating icky food, etc. Gee, these are all signs of impending failure...

The key to this weight loss thing is a lifestyle change that you can live with for the rest of your life. Too many people are still in that "no pain - no gain" mentality that implies weight loss must be unpleasant to be successful, and then once the pounds are gone you can relax and get back to normal. NOT!

Typically its harder to maintain the weight loss than it is to lose the pounds to begin with, mainly for that reason! Don't start a program that is umcomfortable and unpleasant, cause you will never be able to sustain it for very long.

Beleive it or not, losing weight doesn't have to be a bad ordeal, though changing your lifestyle is not necessarily an easy thing to do. Ok, its very difficult to do. I talk a lot about this in my book - The Jimmy Lamb Chronicles - as that really in truly is the key and I am living proof.

WALKING, not running, not jogging, not working out - is my exercise of choice and I shoot for 5 to 6 miles minimum per day. Of course, I didn't do that in the beginning, but its really easy now. And I choose locations that are fun to walk! The beach, shopping malls, historic districts, parks, whatever. I try to keep it enjoyable and interesting so there is no dreading the activity.

Yesterday for example, I took two of my kids to an Airshow and got in several miles of walking while enjoying the event. We could have hopped a shuttle bus from the parking area, opened up a beach chair, and then plopped down for the duration. Instead, we ignored the "free ride" and walked from parking lot to the flightline, dropped off our chairs, then continued walking around the event checking out all the sites and activities. By the time it was all done, we had in about 3.5 miles. I picked up another 1.4 miles once we got home, for a grand total of 5 miles for the day.

Lifestyle Change - thats the key.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Little Things Do Make A Difference

Whew! It was a long nerve-wracking night without my pedometer (like I need it while I sleep) but I made it through to morning without any apparent long-lasting traumatic affects. Then it was off to Dicks Sporting Goods to buy a replacement to the one that didn't float.

Ok, I know it sounds ridiculous to be so stressed out over the loss of a pedometer, but in reality this simple little device played such a huge part in my loss of 70 pounds, that it has become almost an additional body part. Though it has no physical effect on burning off pounds, it does act as a sentinal to keep you on track. Day in and day out, the pedometer gives a quick visual report card on where my exercise efforts are going (or not). Its an important reality check that prevents cheating and keeps me from saying "I can't lose weight no matter how hard I try." Its a proven fact that most people who use such a phrase, really aren't doing what they need to do and then spend a lot of time fooling themselves into believing they are 100% committed to weight loss, when in reality they aren't.

In the case of an exercise plan based on walking, jogging or running, the Pedometer TELLS ALL!

If you read my book, you know I am really into walking and proof that it does work. Soooooo many people say "I don't have time to develop and exercise program." Well, the beauty of walking is that it doesn't require all that much dedicated time because you can do it ALL THE TIME.

For example, last night I went to Wal-Mart. This particular store is always crowded, and I mean really crowded, which means a full parking lot. (Now here is where the fun begins.) There is a steady stream of cars cruising the parking lot looking for a spot CLOSE TO THE FRONT DOOR of the store. In fact, the average person will spend 10 minutes or more desperately searching, ready and willing to run over anyone who gets in their weigh and go to blows with other motorists in a fight for ideal parking proximity.

This is hilarious to me, because I will purposely park FAR from the entrance purely for the benefit of more steps on the pedometer. In fact, there have been times when I parked, walked in, shopped, checked out and returned to the car faster than the "searchers" could find that elusive front row parking spot.

Not only did I make better use of my time, I also contributed to my weight loss. Sure, those extra steps didn't burn off much, but when you combine that small amount of effort with lots of other small efforts, the cumulative effect can be very beneficial. Small things do make a difference!

This was one of the first steps I took when establishing a new lifestyle aimed at losing weight. Parking FAR away, avoiding escalators, moving sidewalks and elevators. Exercise isn't limited to a dedicated workout in a gym, it can come from everything you do during a normal day, you just have to get focused on all the opportunities that are ready and waiting.

By the way, if its raining, all bets are off in the parking lot...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pedometer Crisis!

Durn it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My pedometer just popped off my shorts and flew into the toilet. Can you believe that crap? (not literally - toilet was clean)

Whats the big deal you ask? Well first of all, I am so consumed with tracking my exercise EVERY day via the steps that I walk, that my pedometer is like a permanent addition to my body. Really! I clip it on when I wake up and it stays there pretty much all day till I go to bed. So when I am without it, I feel like my weight loss has come to a grinding halt. Of course, the pedometer has no physical affect on weight loss, its just a tracking device, but I really feel lost without it, as silly as that sounds.

Ok, the second issue here is that my pedometer of choice ain't cheap! So now I have to fork out some more bucks to get back on track.

Sigh... the day was going so well. But at least I got in pretty much all of my walking (exercise) and managed to put it in my tracking chart before the pedometer was permanently reset to zero.