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Walk Off the Weight: Part 3 -- Your Best Body Ever

This month, you'll boost your results and lose those last pounds as you build up your endurance.

By Bethany Gumper

Introduction
woman walking on beach
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Lynda Churilla
Photos by Lynda Churilla

Welcome to the final stretch of our get-slim-by-summer guide. If you've been doing our walking workout, you must feel great. It probably shows, too, since you have likely shed several pounds. This month you'll boost your results and lose those last pounds as you build your endurance -- step by step.

The finish line -- your goal of a slimmer you -- is in sight. Our shape-up series proves that walking is the perfect workout. It's easy, free, and promises lasting results without going to the gym. Thanks to parts 1 and 2, you're already used to exercising almost daily and challenging yourself with hills and speed walks. Now all you have to do is walk longer and the pounds will keep melting away. Here, your get-results game plan includes a walking calendar, moves to tone your upper body, easy nutrition tricks, a calorie-torching accessory, and tips to make walking a part of your life forever.

Your Workout This Month Goal: Endurance

Blast calories with longer walks.

Steps to Success

For most busy moms, squeezing in long walks is tough. Just plan ahead to make them happen: Schedule them into your weekend, when you're not so time-crunched, or break them up. A quick 30-minute morning walk before your kids wake up plus a 60-minute jaunt after lunch equals an hour-and-a-half workout that'll fit into even the craziest of days.

The Plan

"Long walks torch calories because you tap into stored energy -- in other words, fat," says Mark Fenton, author of Pedometer Walking (Lyons Press). Lose about a pound a week with these tips.

  1. Enjoy the great outdoors. On the weekends, pile the kids in the car and head to a nearby park for a long hike. Find beautiful trails near you at americanhiking.org (click on "Trail Finder") or traillink.com.
  2. Be an urban explorer. Grab a map and wander a city neighborhood with amazing architecture. Just make sure to keep your heart rate up as you enjoy the view.
  3. Be creative when you're short on time. If you can't find a new walk, just vary your usual route -- reverse directions, try a new turn, do anything to make it more interesting.

 
Your Walking Calendar

This month you'll add two longer walks -- ranging from approximately one hour to two -- per week. Your other walks are a little lengthier, too, because you're in such great shape now. But don't worry -- you can tone down the fast and hilly walks if they're too tough. Just shoot for at least 25 to 35 minutes of speedy or varied-terrain walking in the middle of your workout (adjust your warm-up and cool-down accordingly). As these days feel easier, increase the amount of time you're challenging yourself with tempo or incline.

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Your Ultimate Upper Body

Since walking is primarily a lower-body workout, it's easy to overlook your arms, chest, and back. But being strong on top allows you to swing your arms with more force, which boosts your calorie burn. "It'll also make your body look proportioned," says Family Circle advisory board member Ellen Barrett, who owns a Pilates studio in New Haven, Connecticut. Do these moves three days a week after your walks. You'll need one 5- to 10-pound dumbbell.

1. Push-Up: Strengthens chest and shoulders
woman doing push up on beach
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Lynda Churilla

From all fours, walk your hands out until they're beneath your shoulders (this is your starting position, as shown). Contract your abdominal muscles and bend at the elbows, keeping the body in a straight line from your shoulders to your knees, as you lower your chin to just above your fingers. Exhale as you press up to return to starting position. Do 10 to 15 reps.

2. Arm Circles: Strengthens shoulders
woman doing arm circles
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Lynda Churilla

Stand with your feet together, knees slightly bent and your back straight. Place your left hand on your hip and extend your right arm directly out in front of you at shoulder height, as shown. Keeping the rest of your body still, move your arm clockwise as you make a circle the size of a small hula hoop. Once you have completed 10 reps, switch directions and do 10 more counterclockwise circles. Switch arms and repeat.

3. Overhead Triceps Press: Strengthens triceps
woman doing overhead tricep press
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Lynda Churilla

Stand with your feet together, knees slightly bent. Holding one weight with both hands, raise your arms overhead so your elbows are next to your ears. Now bend your elbows so the weight is behind your head (this is your starting position, as shown). Tighten your abdominal muscles as you straighten your elbows, lifting the weight toward the ceiling. Do 15 to 20 reps.

4. Double Arm Reach: Strengthens upper back and triceps
woman doing double arm reach
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Lynda Churilla

Stand with your feet 3 to 4 feet apart, holding one weight with both hands. Your arms should be straight down in front of your body, pointing toward the floor, your spine straight and your shoulders down (this is your starting position). Stretch both arms up and over your head to the right without bending your elbows, as shown. Return to starting position. Lift weight up to the other side and back to starting position to complete one rep. Do 16 reps.

Gearing Up

Walk like a Scandinavian to get the best workout. Nordic poles boost calorie burn by 20 to 46 percent and demand more from your upper body, especially your shoulder and back muscles. They also reduce the load on your knees, and the spiked tips help you dig into slippery surfaces (because we know you'll be keeping up your routine come November and icy streets). Here, four key features to help you choose the perfect poles.

nordic pole
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Lynda Churilla

  1. An adjustable wrist strap accommodates seasonal wardrobe changes like winter mittens.
  2. Choose a pair of lightweight, single-shaft poles. Avoid extendable varieties, which just add extra weight.
  3. The contoured handle should feel comfortable. When you grip it with the tip resting on the ground, your elbow should form a 90-degree angle.
  4. A metal spike tip digs into grass, gravel, dirt, snow, or even ice. A removable rubber tip works on paved streets and sidewalks.

Beat the Heat

Don't let warm weather turn you into a workout wimp. Here are Fenton's top strategies for keeping cool.

  1. Stay hydrated. Women need approximately nine 8-ounce glasses of water every day. Bring a frozen water bottle along; it'll thaw as you walk.
  2. Take it easy. Start slowly on hot days so your body can adjust to the temperature.
  3. Tweak your schedule. Walk in the early morning or evening, when it's cooler outside.
  4. Seek out the shade. A tree-covered trail near water will be cooler than a sunny street or sidewalk.
  5. Sunproof your style. Slather on sunscreen, pull on a broad-brimmed hat to protect your face, and wear light-colored, breathable clothing that will reflect, not absorb, rays.

Easy Slimming Secrets

Dropping pounds doesn't have to mean depriving yourself. Just like in months 1 and 2, we're giving you four easy diet tricks from Ellie Krieger, RD, host of Healthy Appetite on the Food Network, to help you keep shedding pounds -- without hunger pangs. Try one of these per week to painlessly cut calories.

Week 1

Mind your location. Don't eat while sitting on the sofa or standing by the fridge -- two common spots for mindless nibbling. When you're genuinely hungry, not just wanting to nosh out of stress, habit, or boredom, sit down at the table.

Week 2

Take the plunge. Next time you feel like reaching for a fudge brownie, indulge in a soothing bath or foot soak instead. Light some candles, put on a relaxing CD. and tune out the day's stresses -- and your cravings.

Week 3

Start a snacking habit. Never go more than four to five hours without eating a combination of protein, carbs, and healthy fat to keep you full. Two satisfying options: an apple with peanut butter or baby carrots with hummus.

Week 4

Fill up on fruit. Every Monday put seven pieces of fruit in a special bowl in your fridge. Enjoy one each day for the rest of the week. Scan the produce section for unfamiliar options -- you might find a new favorite.

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