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Walk Off the Weight in 12 Weeks

It's time to start on your weight-loss journey. "You don't need to use any fancy equipment or learn any complicated steps," says Leslie Sansone, group exercise leader, Walk at Home fitness trainer, and designer of this year's Family Circle/AHA Start! Walking Challenge program. "You just have to get pumped up about burning fat, toning your muscles, building bone strength, reducing stress, and dramatically reducing your risk for heart disease." Following this plan will literally take you on a walk in the right direction.

Week 1

           
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday/
Sunday

Walking
Wisdom
From your front door, walk for 7-8 minutes and then return home the same route—don't worry about your pace. Walk for 10 minutes, then walk back. Walk for a total of 15 minutes. 20 minutes 15 minutes Mix it up. Look for opportunities to walk whenever you can. Take the family for a long walk to a park. Get to a mall early and window-shop as you briskly move through the long corridors. Head to a beach or lake and walk along the shore. A brisk 20-minute walk can calm you as much as taking a mild tranquilizer. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, brain chemicals that relieve pain and stimulate relaxation.

Week 2

           
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday/
Sunday
Walking
Wisdom
Walk 12 minutes one way, then walk back. 30 minutes 24 minutes 30 minutes 24 minutes Mix it up. Look for opportunities to walk whenever you can. Take the family for a long walk to a park. Get to a mall early and window-shop as you briskly move through the long corridors. Head to a beach or lake and walk along the shore.

When your walk surpasses the 20-minute mark, blood flow and the amount of oxygen in your blood increase.

Week 3

           
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday/
Sunday
Walking
Wisdom
30 minutes 40 minutes 30 minutes 40 minutes 30 minutes Mix it up. Look for opportunities to walk whenever you can. Take the family for a long walk to a park. Get to a mall early and window-shop as you briskly move through the long corridors. Head to a beach or lake and walk along the shore.

Keep moving for 30 minutes or more and your body will begin releasing stored fat and start using it as energy.

Week 4

           
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday/
Sunday
Walking
Wisdom
Walk for 15 minutes total, at a quick pace. Aim for 1 mile. 40 minutes 30 minutes 40 minutes 30 minutes Mix it up. Look for opportunities to walk whenever you can. Take the family for a long walk to a park. Get to a mall early and window-shop as you briskly move through the long corridors. Head to a beach or lake and walk along the shore.

The faster you go, the more you'll build up your heart muscle strength. The increase in blood flow will also keep arteries from hardening, which helps ward off atherosclerosis.

Week 5

         
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday/ Sunday

Walk 30 minutes. Covering 2 miles is your goal. Boost this session with Upper Body & Core Activators.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walk 15 minutes: 1-mile goal! Pump up this walk by adding Speed Steps.
Walk 30 minutes: 2-mile goal. Boost this session with Upper Body & Core Activators.
Walk for 15 minutes: 1-mile goal. Pump up this walk by adding Speed Steps.
Walk 3 miles. Don't worry about how long it takes. Cross-Train! The weekend is the best time to "wake up" other muscles in the body. Go for a bike ride or join the kids for some fun in the backyard—badminton, Wiffle Ball, and Frisbee all count if you play for at least 30 minutes. Or head to a nearby schoolyard and shoot some hoops, hit a tennis ball against a wall, or kick around a soccer ball. There are endless ways to cross-train.

Boost sessions with Upper Body & Core Activators: After 5 minutes of walking, raise your arms above your head and tuck your belly button back toward your spine. Hold this "tummy tuck" as you do 10 more repetitions of raising your arms above your head. Do this every 5 minutes throughout your walk. At the conclusion of a 30-minute walk you'll have performed 6 sets of Upper Body & Core Activators.

Pump up walks by adding Speed Steps: After 5 minutes of walking, push yourself to walk faster for 50 steps. You can even take it to a gentle jog if you'd like. Do this every 5 minutes throughout your walk. In a 15-minute session you'll do 150 Speed Steps.

Week 6

         
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday/ Sunday

Walk 30 minutes. Pump up this walk with Speed Steps. This week do 100 faster steps every 5 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walk 40 minutes. Boost this session with Upper Body & Core Activators.


Walk 30 minutes. Pump up this walk with Speed Steps.


Walk 40 minutes. Boost this session with Upper Body & Core Activators.


Walk 30 minutes. Pump up this walk with Speed Steps.

Cross-Train! The weekend is the best time to "wake up" other muscles in the body. Go for a bike ride or join the kids for some fun in the backyard—badminton, Wiffle Ball, and Frisbee all count if you play for at least 30 minutes. Or head to a nearby schoolyard and shoot some hoops, hit a tennis ball against a wall, or kick around a soccer ball. There are endless ways to cross-train.

Boost sessions with Upper Body & Core Activators: After 5 minutes of walking, raise your arms above your head and tuck your belly button back toward your spine. Hold this "tummy tuck" as you do 10 more repetitions of raising your arms above your head. Do this every 5 minutes throughout your walk. At the conclusion of a 30-minute walk you'll have performed 6 sets of Upper Body & Core Activators.

Pump up walks by adding Speed Steps: After 5 minutes of walking, push yourself to walk faster for 50 steps. You can even take it to a gentle jog if you'd like. Do this every 5 minutes throughout your walk. In a 15-minute session you'll do 150 Speed Steps.

Week 7

         
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday/ Sunday

Walk 2 miles. Your goal is to cover this distance in 30 minutes or less. Pump up this walk with Speed Steps. This week do 30 seconds fast walking or jog after every 10 minutes of walking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walk 3 miles. Your goal is 45 minutes or less.


Walk 2 miles in 30 minutes or less. Pump up this walk with Speed Steps.


Walk 3 miles. Your goal is 45 minutes or less.


Walk 2 miles in 30 minutes or less. Pump up this walk with Speed Steps.

Cross-Train! The weekend is the best time to "wake up" other muscles in the body. Go for a bike ride or join the kids for some fun in the backyard—badminton, Wiffle Ball, and Frisbee all count if you play for at least 30 minutes. Or head to a nearby schoolyard and shoot some hoops, hit a tennis ball against a wall, or kick around a soccer ball. There are endless ways to cross-train.

Boost sessions with Upper Body & Core Activators: After 5 minutes of walking, raise your arms above your head and tuck your belly button back toward your spine. Hold this "tummy tuck" as you do 10 more repetitions of raising your arms above your head. Do this every 5 minutes throughout your walk. At the conclusion of a 30-minute walk you'll have performed 6 sets of Upper Body & Core Activators.

Pump up walks by adding Speed Steps: After 5 minutes of walking, push yourself to walk faster for 50 steps. You can even take it to a gentle jog if you'd like. Do this every 5 minutes throughout your walk. In a 15-minute session you'll do 150 Speed Steps.

Week 8

         
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday/ Sunday

Walk 3 miles. Boost this session with Upper Body & Core Activators. This week, every 10 minutes tuck in your tummy and do 10 reps of arms over head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Take 2 separate 15-minute walks today. This will help to keep your metabolism revved.


Walk 3 miles. Boost this session with Upper Body & Core Activators.


Take 2 separate 15-minute walks today.


Walk 3 miles. Boost this session with Upper Body & Core Activators.

Cross-Train! The weekend is the best time to "wake up" other muscles in the body. Go for a bike ride or join the kids for some fun in the backyard—badminton, Wiffle Ball, and Frisbee all count if you play for at least 30 minutes. Or head to a nearby schoolyard and shoot some hoops, hit a tennis ball against a wall, or kick around a soccer ball. There are endless ways to cross-train.

Boost sessions with Upper Body & Core Activators: After 5 minutes of walking, raise your arms above your head and tuck your belly button back toward your spine. Hold this "tummy tuck" as you do 10 more repetitions of raising your arms above your head. Do this every 5 minutes throughout your walk. At the conclusion of a 30-minute walk you'll have performed 6 sets of Upper Body & Core Activators.

Pump up walks by adding Speed Steps: After 5 minutes of walking, push yourself to walk faster for 50 steps. You can even take it to a gentle jog if you'd like. Do this every 5 minutes throughout your walk. In a 15-minute session you'll do 150 Speed Steps.

Week 9          
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday/Sunday

Walk 3 miles in 45 minutes. Add a Climbing Session.

Walk for 10 minutes before each meal. (Your goal is a total of at least 30 minutes of walking.) Walk 3 miles in 45 minutes. Add a Climbing Session. Walk for 10 minutes before each meal. (Your goal is a total of at least 30 minutes of walking.) Walk 3 miles in 45 minutes. Add a Climbing Session. When your workout plans get sidetracked, just reschedule: Do your Tuesday walk on Saturday and your Friday walk on Sunday. As long as you fit in 5 workouts in a 7-day period, you'll be well on your way to a healthy BMI. And on those weeks when you stick to the Monday through Friday schedule, push yourself a little more and go for a really long walk or hike (1 to 2 hours) on Saturday or Sunday. Then give yourself a well-deserved pat on your ever-shrinking backside.

Climbing Session

A sure way to lower your BMI is to add short intense bursts of activity into your walks. You can do this by tackling some inclines. Powering up stairs or hills engages the glutes (your backside) and quads/hamstrings (your thighs), and strengthening these major muscles results in big calorie burn. So find yourself a good set of stairs, a hilly route, or even just a curb and get moving.

Outdoor stairs or hills in your neighborhood: Work them into your walk. After every 5 or 10 minutes go up and down once. Try for 4 flights or 4 hills spread out throughout the walk.

Stairs at home: Hit the stairs at home at the end of your walk. Take them up 2 at a time and then come down slowly. Repeat 4 times.

No stairs or hills nearby: Using a curb, step up and down for about 10 minutes. Lead with your right foot for 5 minutes and then your left for another 5.

Week 10          
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday/Sunday

Walk 2 miles and do a Climbing Session.

Walk 4 miles. Clock yourself and try to finish in 60 minutes or less!

Walk 2 miles and do a Climbing Session.

Walk 4 miles. Clock yourself and try to finish in 60 minutes or less!

Walk 2 miles and do a Climbing Session.

When your workout plans get sidetracked, just reschedule: Do your Tuesday walk on Saturday and your Friday walk on Sunday. As long as you fit in 5 workouts in a 7-day period, you'll be well on your way to a healthy BMI. And on those weeks when you stick to the Monday through Friday schedule, push yourself a little more and go for a really long walk or hike (1 to 2 hours) on Saturday or Sunday. Then give yourself a well-deserved pat on your ever-shrinking backside.

A sure way to lower your BMI is to add short intense bursts of activity into your walks. You can do this by tackling some inclines. Powering up stairs or hills engages the glutes (your backside) and quads/hamstrings (your thighs), and strengthening these major muscles results in big calorie burn. So find yourself a good set of stairs, a hilly route, or even just a curb and get moving.

Outdoor stairs or hills in your neighborhood: Work them into your walk. After every 5 or 10 minutes go up and down once. Try for 4 flights or 4 hills spread out throughout the walk.

Stairs at home: Hit the stairs at home at the end of your walk. Take them up 2 at a time and then come down slowly. Repeat 4 times.

No stairs or hills nearby: Using a curb, step up and down for about 10 minutes. Lead with your right foot for 5 minutes and then your left for another 5.

Week 11          
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday/Sunday

Walk 3 miles. If your route does not have hills, drive to one that does. Even a small incline demands the legs do more work.

Head out in the a.m. and p.m. Walk 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes before dinner. Cover 1 mile each time.

Walk 3 miles. If your route does not have hills, drive to one that does. Even a small incline demands the legs do more work.

Head out in the a.m. and p.m. Walk 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes before dinner. Cover 1 mile each time.

Walk 3 miles. If your route does not have hills, drive to one that does. Even a small incline demands the legs do more work.

When your workout plans get sidetracked, just reschedule: Do your Tuesday walk on Saturday and your Friday walk on Sunday. As long as you fit in 5 workouts in a 7-day period, you'll be well on your way to a healthy BMI. And on those weeks when you stick to the Monday through Friday schedule, push yourself a little more and go for a really long walk or hike (1 to 2 hours) on Saturday or Sunday. Then give yourself a well-deserved pat on your ever-shrinking backside.

Climbing Session

A sure way to lower your BMI is to add short intense bursts of activity into your walks. You can do this by tackling some inclines. Powering up stairs or hills engages the glutes (your backside) and quads/hamstrings (your thighs), and strengthening these major muscles results in big calorie burn. So find yourself a good set of stairs, a hilly route, or even just a curb and get moving.

Outdoor stairs or hills in your neighborhood: Work them into your walk. After every 5 or 10 minutes go up and down once. Try for 4 flights or 4 hills spread out throughout the walk.

Stairs at home: Hit the stairs at home at the end of your walk. Take them up 2 at a time and then come down slowly. Repeat 4 times.

No stairs or hills nearby: Using a curb, step up and down for about 10 minutes. Lead with your right foot for 5 minutes and then your left for another 5.

Week 12          
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday/Sunday

Walk 4 miles and add a Climbing Session.

Walk 2 miles in under 30 minutes.

Walk 4 miles and add a Climbing Session.

Walk 2 miles in under 30 minutes.

Walk 4 miles and add a Climbing Session.

When your workout plans get sidetracked, just reschedule: Do your Tuesday walk on Saturday and your Friday walk on Sunday. As long as you fit in 5 workouts in a 7-day period, you'll be well on your way to a healthy BMI. And on those weeks when you stick to the Monday through Friday schedule, push yourself a little more and go for a really long walk or hike (1 to 2 hours) on Saturday or Sunday. Then give yourself a well-deserved pat on your ever-shrinking backside.

Climbing Session

A sure way to lower your BMI is to add short intense bursts of activity into your walks. You can do this by tackling some inclines. Powering up stairs or hills engages the glutes (your backside) and quads/hamstrings (your thighs), and strengthening these major muscles results in big calorie burn. So find yourself a good set of stairs, a hilly route, or even just a curb and get moving.

Outdoor stairs or hills in your neighborhood: Work them into your walk. After every 5 or 10 minutes go up and down once. Try for 4 flights or 4 hills spread out throughout the walk.

Stairs at home: Hit the stairs at home at the end of your walk. Take them up 2 at a time and then come down slowly. Repeat 4 times.

No stairs or hills nearby: Using a curb, step up and down for about 10 minutes. Lead with your right foot for 5 minutes and then your left for another 5.

 

Originally published in the May 2010 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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