Walking the Calories

It’s Sunday, it’s late morning and it’s raining a lot but my feet are telling me they feel like walking in the nearby beautiful park. Walking in the rain? Why not, I have an umbrella. The fresh hot coffee afterwards makes me already smile. Also, the thought that I’ll burn some of those nasty calories I managed to eat the evening before.

When I started the difficult road from fat to fit, I was in an extremely bad shape and was sure I didn’t had the time or mindset or anything in my power to exercise.

And…I was convinced exercising is useless in a diet. “Just eat less”.
And… I find jogging, aerobic and other “extreme” fitness chores even now boring. Sorry folks, I can’t help it.Then I’ve stumbled upon some interesting and useful science items on the net.
To make a long story short, you don’t need extreme fitness (although if you do it, bravo for you). Just walking for at least half an hour can help a lot.
But you have to do it every day. No use walking only in weekends. Walking every day is not an easy thing to do in the beginning if you are a computer or TV freak, if you have a very busy office life or if you have quite a lot of excess fat (a nice way to say you’re really too fat to move easily).
Sometimes you need outside help, like a friends group or a forum to keep you moving.
Some forums are very supportive, excellent ideas and a lot of advice.  Try, for example, http://community.myfitnesspal.com/en/categories.
Just walking might be boring, if you don’t have some friends to walk with. Here comes technology to the rescue. Try any mobile device with music, audio books or radio programmes.
Investing in a pedometer has been one of my best ideas so far. I’ve started very low, less than 2000 steps a day and increased the number from week to week.
I love my little green fitbit froggy but any other pedometer will do.
Photo Emilia Dragne

In my experience walking is good for your feet and brain but it’s not enough for your body.  You need more to feel fit and wit and you need to build some muscle.
A bit of gymnastics will come naturally. Simple exercises like cycling now and then on a static bicycle, some exercises with small weights. Any kind of physical activity will do, in fact, including dancing, cleaning your house, shopping, gardening etc.
A sport, any sport, will do wonders for your body.
I’ve  been lucky that I’m a nut about swimming. Must have been a duck in a previous life. I’ve enrolled in a swimming club (not easy to find and quite expensive in Bucharest but cheaper than doctors and medicine).
From time to time I  manage to find some pond, lake or sea to swim a whole day long.

A few days ago, I’ve analyzed the data in my daily journal.
Such a journal is extremely useful for your diet. Besides controlling better what you eat and drink, it’s vital to look from time to time at historic data. They can tell a lot, even  if you don’t  have the basic knowledge of statistics and Excel.
For example, my journal  shows that the best recipe in a month to put a pound on is to eat a bit more, whatever healthy food,  while exercising too little or at all.
Calories do matter, take them for a walk.

Checklist

  • Start walking. Start with 20 minutes every other day and increase this from week to week. 
  • Try to find a community of people helping each other to become fit to support you: a forum on the net, friends, relatives, a club, a team.
  • Put technology to work and invest in a mobile device with music or audio books or radio.
  • Invest also in a pedometer (step counter) device. 
  • Find other opportunities of physical activity, even if this means just cleaning your house or shopping.
  • Try to find a sport you can afford and enjoy.
  • Aim for at least 90 minutes daily of physical activity.
  • On days you eat or drink more than you’d need to (like a party or some emotional burst for ex.)  try to exercise a lot more. Dance, swim, walk as much as possible a.s.o. A couple of days will do the trick and bring you back on the path.
  • Keep a “diet journal” and review it from time to tome.
Photo Emilia Dragne

 

The Science behind all these

Is diet or exercise more important in combating obesity?
“Diet and exercise has the same importance if you are trying to lose weight.
Research shows physical exercise on its own or diet on its own is not an effective weight
loss strategy, they need to be combined. Weight loss will only be achieved if energy input
(food and drink) is lower than the total energy expenditure ( activity of daily life and physical
activity). Research shows that to lose weight you need to exercise more than 60-90
minutes/day at moderate intensity if energy ( food and drink) intake is not modified.”

Epigenetic Changes to Fat Cells Following Exercise
The cells of the body contain DNA, which contains genes. We inherit our genes and they cannot be changed. The genes, however, have ‘methyl groups’ attached which affect what is known as ‘gene expression’ — whether the genes are activated or deactivated. The methyl groups can be influenced in various ways, through exercise, diet and lifestyle, in a process known as ‘DNA methylation’. This is epigenetics, a relatively new research field that in recent years has attracted more and more attention.

All Fat Is Not Bad: Study Shows Exercise Creates “Good Fat”
“Our work provides greater motivation than ever to get out there and exercise,” Stanford
said.
These studies suggest that even if you’re not losing weight, exercise is still training your fat to be more metabolically active; even if you don’t see the results on the scale, you are still improving your overall metabolism and therefore your health.

Long, Low Intensity Exercise May Have More Health Benefits Relative to Short, Intense Workouts
Standing and walking for longer stretches improves insulin sensitivity and blood lipid levels more than an hour of intense exercise each day does, but only if the calories spent in both forms of exercise are similar.

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