Walking for FitnessCredit: Pixabay

I have heard it all and so have you. Lose weight overnight, wraps, pills, fad diets, you name it and someone is hawking it. Sure, you will lose weight…your pocket book will be lighter.

 I recently participated in a fitness program sponsored by my employer. I lost 27 lbs. in less than four months. I did not suffer endlessly on a prescribed diet; I did not spend a single dime on a membership or gimmick contraptions. Let me tell you how I lost weight by using a fitness tracker and walking for fitness program, and see if it might work for you.

 Fitness Trackers

First, fitness monitoring devices seem to be in vogue these days. You can find fitness tracker apps for your iOS or Droid mobile phone or any number of wearable devices that are sleek and hip to over-the-top large. If you have not looked into the use of these apps or wearable devices, you are in for a big surprise. The concept is to track your every activity and duration. It will provide feedback on your effort, suggest an activity, and analyze your sleep pattern. Amazing!

 The tracker device that I used was Fitbit, and it was provided free by my employer as an incentive to participate in the program. A secure web portal tallied all the data and even provided group challenge details so I could see how I stacked up against others. The purpose was to motivate participants to report your total calorie burn throughout the day, and motivate you to put your best effort forward.

Fitbit Daily ReportCredit: Fitbit

 The device app allows you to input your food consumption and serving size to calculate your total calorie intake. For me, the Fitbit tracker has an app for my phone that allows me to record diet consumption. This was easily accomplished by scanning the barcode on food label. Slick! I could also input my own calorie data for those items without a barcode like my wife’s yummy orange chicken, or our version of vegetable and rice stir fry. It was also easy to look up food like a salad from Jack In The Box.

 

My Approach

I am not a big fan of going to a gym and working out. I don’t have the extra time or money. I do have a small weight set in the garage that I try to use three times per week before the kids wake up. I also take walks, generally once during my work day and then again in the evening. I have long legs and always walk fast everywhere I go. In less than an hour, I could crank out a three and a half mile walk through my neighborhood. My goal was to track my total calories burned for the day and the total calories consumed. At the end of the day, I wanted to have a net deficit of 1,000 calories, five days per week. The other days could be near break even, but not go over.

 The entire process was simple. I would eat what I wanted, but the more I ate the more steps I would have to achieve during the 24 hours. To reach my goal I had to quickly learn to watch the high calorie foods. I naturally and consciously altered my eating habits, but I still ate the foods I wanted to eat. To be honest, I was very surprised how quickly a snack here and there adds up. Over the course of a couple of months, I learned what I could eat, how much, and what it would cost me at the end of the day in terms of steps taken.

 Once I figured out how to meet my goal of 1,000 calorie deficit in a 24 hour period, the weight seemed to melt away. The first thing I noticed was my clothes were fitting better, then people began to make those comments you love to hear, “You look good, have you lost weight?” Well I have to say, that made me all the more conscience about calorie intake and calorie burn.

 The true test came during the holidays. We love getting together with family and friends, and we eat! I can’t say no to homemade fudge and gooey cookies. And of course I would not want to offend my mother-in-law by not having seconds of her finest Thanksgiving spread with all the trimmings. Between Thanksgiving and New Years day, I had a net gain of only one pound! I was ecstatic!

 Tips and Tricks

I found that what works for me is a combination of being more aware of my food intake and my daily activity level. I know I can reach my weight goal and maintain it without having to kill myself over some complex or exhausting workout program, buying expensive gym membership, or following a less than satisfying fad diet program.

   - Start slow. If you are not going for long walks now, try easing into a walking routine. Let you body make a few adjustments before you go all out.

   - Proper foot wear. I started with an old pair of shoes. They did okay, but when I got a new pair, it made a significant difference. My legs were less fatigued and my feet were not as sore.

   - Stay hydrated. I found that taking a bottle of water with me is helpful to sip every few minutes. I also tried drinking a large glass of water 20-30 minutes before my walk and again when I return. I also tried to do most of my walking in the early morning or late evening to avoid the heat of the day.

   - Stick with it. I made a commitment to try the program for six months. The first six weeks did not go so well, and it would have been easy to stop. But as I became more familiar with the data collected and identified a routine that worked for my busy schedule, I started to see progress.

   - Side benefits. In the first week of regular walking, I discovered that I enjoyed the alone time. I was in a better mood over all. I re-discovered my neighborhood by sight, sounds, and smells. I also found that I was more mentally aware during working hours.

 Counting calories is not my favorite thing to do, but the tracking device made it easy. As I realized the correlation between calories consumed and calories burned and the direct impact to my body weight, the process became therapeutic to me. I not only saw a change physically, but mentally. I was eating healthier, and smarter. Simply put, it worked for me; it might work for you too. I encourage you to give it a try.