I’m developing a fitness program tailored to seniors and full-time RVers. Part of the program includes power walking or race walking, depending on whether you want to legally compete and how fast you want to walk. I race walk and my wife power walks. The choice is up to the individual.
On one of my walks, while we were in Eugene waiting for our new licenses and registrations, I encountered a man walking in the opposite direction. I had one more 1.2 mile loop to make before finishing. I was walking a rectangular loop around city blocks and, on the backside of the loop, I encountered the man again. We exchanged good mornings a second time and, since he seemed a friendly sort, I felt it would be a good idea to turn around, catch up with him and congratulate him for his efforts in improving his health. We walked and talked for about 3/8 of a mile and here’s what he told me.
He’d lost 65 pounds in the last four months. He said he’d tried other programs before the one he was on but either couldn’t stick with them, they were to difficult to remember and follow, or they expected too much too soon, and he got burned out and quit. His secret to success was really no secret at all, it was simply limiting his daily intake of calories and walking a specified distance, one that he’d settled on for himself and for the time and energy he had.
We talked about how many people believe they have to follow some other authority in order to succeed, and usually fail because the authority that knows the most about us…is us. The man told me his doctor had said that he’d never stick with the program he set for himself and, even if he did, he’d never lose the weight he wanted. The man was tall, I’d guess 6’3″ or 6’4″ and had a heavy frame and large bones. He said he’d started out at 409 pounds four months earlier. He didn’t say what his target weight was but, because of his build, I’d say he’d be best at 240 to 255 pounds. He stiil had a long way to go but he was determined he’d make it
His driving force was not just his personal health, he also wanted to be able to enjoy his grand kids and playing with them, as opposed to watching them play, was a large part of that enjoyment.
Here is his simple plan, limit calories to 1400 per day or less and walk four miles every day, seven days a week. According to his calculations, four miles a day at a moderate pace, he was walking about three miles per hour, burned more calories than he took in at 1400 per day. He said it he’d found it not to difficult to do if he got up at 6:30 and started his walks as soon as he was dressed. He was proud of his accomplishment, as he should be, and I was glad I had the opportunity to walk and talk with him.
We’re all an experiment of one. Each of us is different and what works for one won’t necessarily work for another. We need to find what works for us and stick with it. In order to do that, it has to be something we enjoy and not so difficult that we burn out. We’re more likely to stick with no pain, slow gain than we are with short term gratification, injury, burn-out and ending up where we started.
My sister-in-law’s dog suffered a major injury to one of her back legs that required surgery. The injury caused some major problems. The dog wasn’t able to go down the steps into their back yard or even in and out of the house under it’s own power. After the initial healing took place, my sister-in-law had to walk the dog twice a day so the dog could go to the bathroom, which added to the daily time crunch we all experience. Along with the veterinarian bills, the pain pills plus the other inconveniences and time it took every day, there was a silver lining.
Marcia had to walk the dog twenty to twenty-five minutes in the morning and again in the evening. She began to notice that walking up and down the stairs from the basement to the main floor were much easier than they’d ever been before. At first the walks left her energy drained and breathless, now she’s looking forward to the dog getting better so they can increase the pace and the time walked. She says she sleeps better and feels much healthier. She did say one thing but it didn’t seem to stress her out: she’d already had to give away some of her old clothes and buy new ones in a smaller size. She also mentioned that she was looking forward to exchanging the latest new clothes for more, again in a smaller size.
I hope these true stories have a positive impact on others who would like to lose weight and become more fit in the process.