Weighty Matters

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Step By Step – A Challenge

on March 4, 2013

As much as I can’t stand that the contestants on the Biggest Loser can lose five pounds in a week and cry because it isn’t enough – Oh the pressure! – I still tune in the show most Monday nights.  There really isn’t anything else on at the same time that I feel like watching and I at least like hearing contestants talk about the positive changes they’ve learned to make.  I also like following the stories of the three kids they’re working with this season.  I was those overweight kids.  They aren’t being yelled at by trainers, they’re receiving great information and encouraging guidance.  I wish I’d had that when I was their age and was the fattest kid in class, if not the whole school.

Tonight the remaining five losers went to their hometowns for two weeks to see their families, have makeovers and to lead their towns in public workouts.  This season the Biggest Loser has promoted Challenging America to lose weight and be more active.   I’ve watched these same contestants temporarily give up on their workouts or be so unfit and incapable that, as they pushed harder and harder they vomited from the exertion.  So, to see them now be able to jog, do pushups and jumping jacks, and encourage groups of others to do the same was truly inspiring.  One woman, a 47 year old who has not been the easiest personality on the B.L. ranch, gave a wonderful pep talk to a young man who now weighs over 400 pounds.  She said that if all you can do is walk, then you walk.  If you can’t do half an hour at a time yet, do 15 minutes.  The message was pretty clear that he shouldn’t let the little he could do keep him from doing the little he can do.

There was a commercial break around this time, disguised as a story about a group of people who have come together to walk, weigh in, and do other fitness stuff.  In their honor, Walgreens gave them all pedometers so they can see how many steps they do a day.   Yes, it was really a couple of minutes of advertising for Walgreens, but there was still value in some of the message.

I’ve heard a lot about the popular idea that we should all strive to walk 10,000 steps a day.  As it happens, I took Nat and Pyxi out for a walk after work.  I have pedometer app on my smart phone.  I don’t always set it, but tonight I did, so I had fresh data.  I divided, then multiplied, carried the two, moved a decimal, blah blah arithmetic-isn’t-my-strong-suit, and finally came up with the approximate figures that I have to walk 4.23 miles a day to reach 10,000 steps.

I have no idea how many steps I walk in the course of a day that aren’t part of my concentrated work out efforts whether they come in a short or long walk, Tai Chi practice or Zumba.  Now I want to know.  I might have to go to Walgreens and get one of those pedometers.  (The phone app sucks power from the battery at an alarming rate.)

This got me thinking about how much exercise someone should really shoot for in a week.  I did some quick Internet surfing and checked out some reputable sources such as the Mayo Clinic.  It seems that most experts agree that 150 minutes of moderately vigorous aerobic activity a week plus some strength training twice a week are good goals with increased intensity of you’re trying to lose weight.

150 minutes breaks down to 30 minutes a day, five days a week or about 21 1/2 minutes a day if you do it every day.

If I keep crunching numbers, figuring in the 60 minutes of Zumba and the two Tai Chi classes, I’ll make myself crazy, so instead I’ll cut to the bottom line.  Can I do at least 30 minutes of walking or other “moderately vigorous” aerobic exercise every day that I don’t do Zumba or a Tai Chi class?  The easy answer is of course I can.  I don’t even have to do it all in one chunk.  The experts also say that the time can be broken down into smaller segments like three sessions of ten minutes or two of fifteen – like the woman from Biggest Loser advised that young man.

The real question is, will I?  Well, that’s the plan.  I’ve decided to challenge myself.   Now, if I really wanted to be a hard ass to myself, I’d require it every single day, even when I do my other activities, but I think this sounds like a much more reasonable goal while still being a worthy challenge.

My next question is, does anybody want to commit to the challenge with me?  It doesn’t have to be walking or Zumba.  It could be swimming or dancing, bike riding or elliptical machines, or anything else that you decide is doable and fun and something that you’ll sustain.

If right now 22 to 30 minutes a day are more than you can accomplish in whatever might be your current physical condition, then whatever you feel you can accomplish is fine.  You don’t have to give us specifics.

Nobody is going to monitor your effort.  I’m not going to be a watchdog.  We’re here for support, encouragement, and cheering to whatever level you want and need.  If you want to check in via the comments, just by saying that you did your exercise today, that will be great.  If you don’t want to check in, you don’t have to.  If you want to send me an email, that’s okay, too.  It’s all up to you.

I hope some of you will join the challenge.  I’m going to attempt to add a poll to this post.  It will be anonymous, but at least we can see how many are participating.  Every day, when I set my intention for myself, I’ll send a little energy thought out into the universe that the other challenge participants meet their intention too.

Good luck!

4 responses to “Step By Step – A Challenge

  1. Hope says:

    I just started running again. I’m doing Couch to 5K, so it’s more like run-walking (for now). A couple of weeks ago, I promised myself that I’d do it every day. I missed one (got stuck in an hour+ of traffic and didn’t get home on time), but I’ve otherwise been spot on. I’ve also been taking the dog for long walks with the baby strapped onto me.

    I’m trying to figure out how to get some exercises done during my lunch hour. I’d like to do some strength training, but I don’t have access to a shower at work. Don’t want to stink up the joint!

  2. Skye says:

    Well, I’m getting ready for my move, but I really need to get in some walking or something like that. I do some strength exercises every day (situps, counter-height pushups, squats, planks, and stuff), but no cardio. I’m going to aim for 10 minutes of walking and 10 minutes of dancing a day. Or at least 15 minutes of something every day. That won’t be overwhelming.

  3. lunarmom says:

    When I began my walking (with the goal of running) I used small markers in my neighborhood. Eventually I worked up to five miles a day. Then I dusted off one of my children’s old bikes, and hopped on. Also working up to five miles a day. Now, as you may know if you’ve been reading along over at my place, I’ve parked my car and do all but one errand a week on two wheels.

    Starting off small is the key, I’ll be pedaling along in unison with you! And trying to get more walks in during each week to meet the challenge.

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