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Walk Off the Weight: Part 1

Follow our three-month walking weight-loss guide to get in shape and look your best.

By Karen Asp

Your Workout This Month Goal: Frequency

Develop a daily walking habit.

Steps to Success

Start small and focus simply on getting out the door. To guarantee results, keep an exercise log. Every day, write down how many minutes you walked, how walking made you feel, and what route you took.

The Plan
woman walking
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Deborah Jaffe

  1. You'll ease into exercise, gradually ramping up how much walking you do. At the start, walk only a small amount each day. As you get stronger, tack on more minutes each week.
  2. You'll alternate between longer and shorter walks. If the suggested walking times don't follow the ebbs and flows of your busy life, swap around days, doing the longer walks on less-hectic days and the shorter walks when you're pressed for time.
  3. You'll lose about half a pound a week this first month. As you get into the second month, you'll start losing more. "Most people quit weight-loss plans because they don't see fast-enough results," Fenton says. "But remember, slower weight loss leads to greater long-term success."

Your Walking Calendar

During this first month of the series, walk for the suggested amount of time each day, maintaining a steady, fairly comfortable pace. You shouldn't get completely out of breath, but you shouldn't be able to tell a walking buddy a long story about last night's argument with your child, either.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Stretch It Out

By increasing the flexibility of your walking muscles, you'll find it easier to get moving. Walking will feel good. Plus, the longer your muscles, the leaner you look. As with walking, it pays to do these moves frequently. Spend four minutes performing these quick stretches after each of your walks.

woman stretching legs
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Deborah Jaffe
woman stretching hamstrings
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Deborah Jaffe
woman stretching back
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Deborah Jaffe
woman stretching upper thigh
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Deborah Jaffe

  1. Standing side lunge: Stretches inner thighs

    Stand with your feet about four feet apart, toes pointed forward and knees slightly bent. Bend slightly forward at the hips, maintaining a flat back, and shift your weight to your left leg. Sit back into the stretch, being sure to keep your left knee behind your toes. Place your hands on your left thigh. Hold 20 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.

  2. Half happy baby: Stretches hamstrings and gluteals

    Lie flat on your back. Bend your left leg, place both hands on the bottom of your left foot and bring your left knee toward your chest. Hold 20 seconds. Repeat with the right leg.

  3. Child's pose: Stretches lower back, shoulders, and knees

    Kneel on the ground with your toes together and knees slightly apart. Sit your hips on your heels and slowly lower your chest toward the ground. Extend your arms on the ground overhead. Hold 20 seconds.

  4. Side-lying quad stretch: Stretches quadriceps, chest, and hip flexors

    Lie on your left side, propped up on your left elbow. Your hips and knees should be stacked. Bend your right knee. Reach your right hand behind you and grab your right foot or ankle, gently pulling your foot toward your back. Keep your chest lifted. Hold 20 seconds. Repeat on the opposite side.

Sneak It In

Short on time? Don't fret -- just tie up your sneaks and get out there. Frequency and making walking a habit are most important this month. Following our strategies below will help you accumulate the minutes you need.

Zap Fat Indoors

When you can't get outside, hop on a treadmill and go at an energizing saunter -- about 3.5 or 4 mph. No treadmill? Turn on the stereo or television and try this "in place" workout from Leslie Sansone, author of Eat Smart, Walk Strong (Walk Aerobics Inc.).

  1. Begin by walking in place to get your heart rate moving.
  2. To bring it up a notch, perform some walking knee lifts: LIFT YOUR LEFT KNEE until it is nearly horizontal (or as high as is comfortable). BRING THE LEFT KNEE DOWN. LIFT YOUR RIGHT KNEE until it is nearly horizontal. REPEAT for a few minutes.
  3. Walk in place again.
  4. Add in some side steps, which work both your thighs and your buttocks: STEP TO YOUR LEFT with your left foot, but remain facing forward. Open your arms wide and out to your sides as you step. BRING YOUR RIGHT FOOT to meet your left, still facing forward, and bring your hands together. STEP TO YOUR RIGHT and continue to REPEAT for a few minutes.
  5. Walk in place until you reach your daily walking goal.

Easy Slimming Secrets

While this walking program promises weight loss without dieting, a few adjustments to your eating habits will boost your results. Introduce one small change each week. "Taking baby steps when it comes to nutrition guarantees they stick with you in the long haul," says Ellie Krieger, author of Small Changes, Big Results (Clarkson Potter).

Week 1

If your pantry and fridge bulge with junk food, your waistline will too. Instead, stock healthy items in convenient-to-eat packages for you and your family.

Week 2

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being starving and 10 stuffed, quit eating when you hit a 5. This will help you slow down and avoid overeating.

Week 3

In your glove compartment, purse, or desk, keep a small stash of filling foods like nuts, dried fruit, whole-grain crackers, or low-cal energy bars.

Week 4

Use your hand to estimate a portion. The palm is one serving of meat, your thumb is a serving of salad dressing, and a fist is one portion of rice or pasta.

Gearing Up

The most important item to purchase is a comfortable pair of walking shoes, says Fenton. You shouldn't have to break them in. Here's how to find the perfect fit.