SPECIAL OFFER: - Limited Time Only!
(The ad below will not display on your printed page)

Walk Off the Weight: Part 2

Ready for Part 2 of our shape-up series? Start seeing some real results!

By Bethany Gumper

woman walking on beach
Enlarge Image
Linda Churilla
Photos by Lynda Churilla

Getting the body you've always wanted is easy. With our three-month walking weight-loss guide, all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other. Successful losers will tell you that the hardest part of dropping pounds is incorporating regular exercise into your routine. That's why last month's plan helped you build a serious walking habit. Now that you're used to exercising six times a week, it's time to pump up the intensity so you burn more calories and lose weight. We've got everything you need to succeed: a walking calendar, simple nutrition tricks so you can slim down without depriving yourself, a tool to help you set the pace, and quick and easy moves that perfect your strolling technique as they transform your abs into swimsuit shape. Stay tuned for Part 3, coming in our July issue, when all you have to do is walk longer to keep seeing results.

Your Workout This Month Goal: Intensity

Pick up the pace and tackle hills.

Steps to Success

Don't be afraid to push yourself -- you can do it! The best way to increase your metabolism is to complete at least two challenging walks per week.

If you need an extra boost, find a fitness buddy to join you on the tougher days -- sweating with a friend can do wonders for waning motivation.

The Plan

"Faster walks and varied terrain firm your muscles, boost your fitness level, and burn more calories in less time," says Mark Fenton, author of Pedometer Walking (Lyons Press). Follow these tips for revving up your walks, and you can expect to lose about a pound each week:

  1. Practice perfect posture. Keep your chin level and your eyes on the horizon. Don't slouch, lean forward at the waist, or let your back sway.
  2. Take quicker -- not longer -- steps. Your stride will lengthen naturally, so just focus on speeding up your feet.
  3. Use your arms. Hold your elbows at a right angle, then trace an arc with your thumb from your waistband to about chest height in front of you.
  4. Push off your toes. As you move swiftly forward, imagine you're showing someone behind you the bottom of your shoe with every step.

Your Walking Calendar

This month you'll shift your calorie burn into overdrive by adding two to three days of either speedy or hilly walks. On fast days, warm up for five minutes, then pick up the tempo to a quick clip that you can sustain for 20 to 30 minutes. You should be breathing hard but not gasping. Not sure if you're pushing yourself enough? Try this trick: Count your steps for 20 seconds; 45 to 50 steps means you're right on track. Always take five minutes at the end of your workout to cool down. On hill days, seek out stairs (stadium steps are perfect) or a path that rises and falls. Your goal is to walk up and down for most of your walk, except for a five-minute easy warm-up and cooldown on a flat stretch of road.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Slimming Secrets

Last month we recommended one simple, no-dieting weight-loss trick per week. Here are four more to try, from dietitian Ellie Krieger, author of Small Changes, Big Results (Clarkson Potter). Incorporate these easy strategies into your routine along with your workouts, and you're sure to shed pounds without feeling deprived or hungry.

Week 1

Downsize your dishware. Serve dinner on a salad plate. You'll wind up eating less -- but you might not even notice all the calories you've saved.

Week 2

Start your day with a healthy breakfast. Try oatmeal with blueberries and a glass of low-fat milk. Fueling up at the start of your day prevents a binge later.

Week 3

Don't sip your calories. Swap fruit juice, alcohol, and soda for drinks that'll keep you slim, like iced tea and H2O. Craving a cocktail? Sip a wine spritzer (half wine, half club soda).

Week 4

Reward yourself for good behavior. Every day that you meet your nutritional goals, put a few dollars in a jar. At the end of the week, buy yourself a treat that is not related to food.

Gearing Up

Buy a pedometer with these key features to pace yourself for success. Use this quick in-store test: Count off 100 steps, then check the display. If it's off by more than 10 steps, try another model.

Whittle Your Middle

Fabulous abs are a must for walkers. "When you have a strong core, you'll step faster and burn more calories," says Fenton. Try these moves from New Haven, Connecticut-based Pilates instructor and Family Circle advisory board member Ellen Barrett three days a week.

1. Tabletop Crunch: Strengthens entire core
woman doing tabletop crunch
Enlarge Image
Linda Churilla

From all fours, lift your left arm and right leg straight out until they're parallel to the floor (this is your starting position, as shown). Exhale and lift your belly button toward the ceiling, curling your back and bringing the left elbow and right knee toward each other. Inhale and return to starting position. Do eight reps, then switch sides and repeat.

2. Diamond Crunch: Strengthens lower abdominals
woman doing diamond crunch
Enlarge Image
Linda Churilla

Lie on your back with the soles of your feet touching and your knees apart so that your legs form a diamond. Bring your hands behind your head. Exhale and lift your head, neck, and shoulders off the mat (as shown). Inhale and slowly lower to the ground. Complete 10 to 20 reps.

3. Bent-Knee Saw: Strengthens obliques and lower back
woman doing standing knee twist step 1
Enlarge Image
Linda Churilla

Sit with legs wide apart (about a 60-degree angle), knees slightly bent and feet flexed. Extend arms out to the sides (this is your starting position). Exhale as you rotate your torso to the right, round over, and reach your left hand toward your right pinky toe (as shown). Inhale and return to starting position, then switch sides to finish one rep. Complete 16 reps.

4. Standing Knee Twist: Strengthens obliques
woman doing standing knee twist step 2
Enlarge Image
Linda Churilla

Stand with feet three feet apart, hands on your hips. Reach your right arm up as you transfer your weight onto the right leg (this is your starting position, as shown). Exhale as you bring the left knee and right elbow toward each other. Inhale and return to starting position. Do eight reps, then switch sides and repeat.