Well, it’s the beginning of another week, and it doesn’t look anymore promising than last week. I’ve finally made a game plan on how I’m going to get back into shape after the birth of my son. However, because of extreme fatigue from dealing with my children, I haven’t been able to start it. And it’s not the exhaustion from the baby, because the baby is doing great! In fact, he is sleeping 4-5 hours at night already. Instead, it’s my almost- two-year-old daughter who’s giving me a run for my money. She is the one who has been getting up every two hours at night. Last night she woke up at 2 a.m. and never went back to sleep; she just screamed all night. Lucky me! This vicious cycle with her has been going on for the past seven days. My husband and I have been getting roughly about two hours of sleep a night between her and the baby. Doesn’t that make you feel bad for me?
So, needless to say even though I’m desperate to get back into my “regular” clothes, sleep deprivation has taken over. And to make matters worse, I’m an emotional eater; so basically I eat to unwind and to relieve all those pent up feelings. Over the past few days I’ve consumed a couple packs of double-stuffed Oreo’s and a pint of ice cream. And it just makes me feel really bad, because I have a goal weight I want to reach by Thanksgiving. But at the rate things are going, I’m not sure it’s going to be realistic. But, anyways, I will share with you the beginning of my workout plan in hopes that by talking about it I will actually be able to get it underway.
I’ve decided a great place to start is walking. What do you think? You hear of so many great weight-loss stories that have just started by walking. There’s even a reality show about a bunch of people walking across the country to lose weight. It’s called Fat March. So, I figured why not try it? I can handle walking maybe 30 minutes each day, and then gradually get up to jogging a little bit. And until my daughter started acting up this was how I was going to begin to get back into shape. I should rephrase that . . . this is how I AM going to get back into shape! No ifs, ands, or buts about it. . . . I will fit back into my skinny jeans someday.
Not only can walking help you and me to shed those nasty, unwanted pounds; it also has many other health benefits. The Mayo Clinic states that walking can help reduce your risk of a heart attack, manage your blood pressure, reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, manage your diabetes, manage your weight, manage stress, boost your spirits, and help you to stay strong and active.
And even though walking seems simple enough, it’s hard to get motivated and to reach a good aerobic exercise. I know I tend to get lazy when it comes to walking. So, how do we get started, and is there a way to measure our fitness level? Here are some suggestions from the Mayo Clinic to guarantee a successful walking workout.
Start slow and easy
If you’re a seasoned walker, keep doing what you’re doing. If you’ve been inactive and tire easily, it’s best to start slow and easy. At first, walk only as far or as fast as you find comfortable. If you can walk for only a few minutes, let that be your starting point. For example, you might try short daily sessions of three to five minutes and slowly build up to 15 minutes twice a week. Then, over several weeks’ time, you can gradually work your way up to 30 minutes of walking five days each week.
Use proper technique to avoid injury and setbacks
Walking is a great exercise because it’s so simple to do. But if your posture is poor or your movements exaggerated, you increase your risk of injury.
Measure the intensity of your workout
As you walk, measure the intensity. Knowing your level allows you to increase the intensity to maximize your workout or slow down to avoid overdoing it. You have these options:
Talk test. If you’re so out of breath that you can’t carry on a conversation with the person you’re walking with, you’re probably walking too fast and should slow down.
Borg scale. This method is a self-assessment of your perceived exertion. You rate how hard you think you’re working on a scale that ranges from 6 (no exertion) to 20 (maximal effort). Aim for at least moderate intensity (12 to 14) as you walk.
Monitor your heart rate (pulse). To find out if you’re exercising within the range of your target heart rate, stop exercising to check your pulse manually at your wrist (radial artery) or neck (carotid artery). Another option is to wear an electronic device that displays your heart rate.
O.K., that sounds easy enough. So, if you are like me and need to begin a new workout game plan, why not start with walking? Together we can reach our goals and walk our way to better health!