This is a 5 point guide to walking to lose weight, aimed at identifying the key actions you can take to effectively, safely and consistenly lose weight through your walking routine.
Ultimately to lose weight you need to eat less calories than you burn, to be precise 3,500 calories less for every pound of weight you want to lose. The thing most people find difficult about weight loss is staying the course, they either end up eating too much or losing motivation to keep exercising.
1) Keep Track of What You Eat
The key to avoiding over-eating is to be aware of what you are eating. It sounds simple but managing your eating starts with being aware of what you are eating.
Make a record of everything you eat and drink; if you want to record the calories each item contains then great, but the main thing is just to record everything.
The act of keeping a food log will:
Help you ensure you don’t eat more that you do today
As you exercise more your metabolism will increase and your body will naturally increase your apatite.
Help you realise how much you are eating
It is very common for us to “graze” on food without really being concious of everything we are eating, stopping to make a note of everything you eat or drink, makes you much more conscious, lets you look at your full days intake all together and ask yourself “do I really need to eat this?“.
Keep you motivated to keep exercising
This again is because taking the time to log what you eat or drink makes you much more concious, it helps to maintain your motivation for exercise. “I’m going to exercise because I’ve worked so hard eating well” and “I’m going to eat well because I’ve worked so hard exercising”
Do NOT fall into the trap of, “I’m going to eat rubbish because I’ve worked hard at exercising“. This can be a slippery slope that does NOT end in weight loss!
2) Measure How Far You Walked
There are several ways to track the distance you’ve walked. Tracking the distance allows you to compare one route with another and help you gradually increase your distance, which will help you increase the calories you burn… crucial if you are walking to lose weight.
Drive the route in your car
Very easy – reset the odometer / mileometer in your car before driving your walking route, however if you are walking off the beaten track or just off road this is not going to be possible.
Route Mapping Websites
There are a number of websites that allow you to plot out your route on a map and see the distance, geodistance.com is one good example.
A pedometer is a device which counts each step you take by detecting the movement of your hips. As everyone’s stride length is different you typically need to tell the pedometer how long each of your strides are, it then uses this to calculate the distance you have covered. These are some of the most popular pedometers*
You’ll find once you’ve tracked your distance a few times you will get to know your walking speed and can pretty accurately work out any distance just from the time it took you to walk it.
Say you walk 2 miles in 40 minutes, this means you average walking pace is 1 mile in 20 minutes (3mph), or put another way, every 10 minutes of walking you cover half a mile. Knowing this you can workout if you went on another route walking at the same pace that took you 30 minutes you would have done about 1.5 miles.
3) Keep a walking log
As mentioned above, keeping a food log helps keep you motivated to eat well and realise how much you consume; keeping a walking log does exactly the same thing. In addition it lets you track your progress as you increase your walking distance and speed.
These are some common stats you could enter in your log:
- Exercise date
- Speed (Distance / Time mins * 60)
- Calories Burned
4) Set SMART Targets
Set yourself targets. There is nothing which boosts your confidence and motivation like setting a target and then achieving it. On the flip side nothing is more demotivating than having lofty targets you never achieve.
Make sure your targets follow the S.M.A.R.T guidelines:
- Specific – Decide very precisely what you will achieve
- Measurable – You must be able to measure it, if not how do you know you achieved it
- Attainable – Start small make sure you can achieve it then start to push yourself gradually with harder targets
- Realistic – While dreaming of walking from coast to coast next month might be nice, is it really attainable at your current level?
- Timely – There must be a date for target completion not just an endless ambition.
Lastly base your targets on the direct things you can influence day to day, rather than things which are a consequence and take longer to appear. For example set your targets based around the mileage you will walk or the number of times a week you will get out, the distance you will cover this month, don’t set targets around loosing X number of pounds…this will happen as a by product just focus on the things you control each day.
Some examples of SMART targets:
- I will walk 20 miles during March
- For the next 2 weeks I will not eat any puddings
- By the end of June I will increase my exercise routine to 30 miles a week
5) Tell People You’re Walking To Lose Weight
This final point is once again about helping to keep you motivated. Once you’ve set your targets tell your friends and family about them, share your progress and successes.
There is nothing as effective for keeping you going when it gets tough, as the support of those around you. It also makes it much more likely that you will follow through and achieve your targets, telling other people about them makes them real and you will feel much more committed to the target if you’ve told everyone it’s something you’re going to do!
- Talk to people about your targets
- Tell them about your progress
- How far have your walked
- How many calories have you burned this week / month
- How is your weight loss progressing
Now you know the secrets of walking to lose weight don’t delay, get yourself out as soon as possible and make use of our calorie calculator to track those calories burned……Still looking for more help losing weight walking, check out our 27 calories burned walking tips.