Beginner 5K Walk (3.1 Miles)

As Walkingspree members, you’re already walking. Some of you are collecting steps throughout the day and others at concentrated walks. Now you can add another layer to your walking by learning how to increase your walking distance, speed and time by participating in a 5K Walk event (3.1 miles or approx 6,000 steps). Fall is an ideal time to do your first 5K event.

Don’t worry about speed at the beginning and instead focus on the time you spend walking. Take each part at your own pace and repeat until you can follow the plan.

Getting Started on a 5K Walk:

Weeks 1 – 2

We’re going to assume that as Walkingspree members, you’ve already been walking for 100 minutes/week and are able to walk daily for 20 minutes at a time.

Check your Getting Started Guide (First Steps: A Walking Primer) on your login page for tips on walking shoes, walking form and other getting started with walking tips.

Week 3: Walk at a Moderate Pace

Time: Add 5 minutes a day so you are walking 25 minutes, 5 days a week. Weekly total goal: 100 – 125 minutes.

Measure your Intensity

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.

Perceived exertion Scale. 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. Your target heart rate will depend on age. Resting heart rate average is 72 beats per minute.

Week 4: Add a Long Day

Time: Add 5 minutes a day to walk 30 minutes, 4 days a week, at a moderate pace. Weekly total goal: 125 – 150 minutes.

Start building mileage by adding a long day. Every week, add one long day on your fifth day. This should be a 40 minute walk at an easy pace.

Week 5: Adding Speed

Time: Walk 30 minutes a day on four days a week.
Long Walk: walk 45 minutes at an easy pace.

Building speed: During your short walks, focus on your form. If you have not been using arm motion, this can help improve your speed (do not carry weights while walking as that can cause injury).

Week 6: Build on your Mileage

Time: Walk 30 minutes a day four days a week, paying attention to form and speed.
Long Walk: walk 60 minutes at an easy pace.

Weeks 7 and 8: Adding Intervals

You’ve done great and by now you could complete your 5K walk. This is a good time to add intervals to your walk as they help build stamina, speed and endurance.

For your long week this week, walk 60 minutes at an easy pace.

Week 9 and Beyond

Why not try turning your long walk into a dry run for your event every other week. Try to increase your pace and walk at 80% of the speed that you hope to walk for the 5K event. You can also try adding another 15 minutes to your walk to increase distance.

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Healthy Eating Tips for Workplace Meals

Healthy Eating Tips for Workplace Meals

You can set yourself up to be sick, or you can choose to stay well. – Wayne Dyer

The workplace can be one of the most challenging places to keep on the straight and narrow with your eating habits. Besides being tempted by vending machines that dispense a seemingly unending supply of candy bars and chips, there are the well-intended coworkers that bring in donuts, cookies, cake, and other fattening snacks that take up an extended residence on the office kitchen’s tables. However, if you plan your lunches and snacks in advance with healthy choices, you’ll be less tempted to dive for the quick fixes that are less healthy for you.

Some other workplace healthy eating habits:

Plan breakfast, too! Planning lunch and dinner is smart. But smarter? Plan your breakfast strategy. Don’t just grab a chocolate donut or a muffin from Starbucks. Instead, buy some Greek yogurt and dress it up with fruits, berries or low fat granola. If you absolutely must eat on the go, look for places that will make you a custom omelet. Ask them to fill it with vegetables.

Bring your lunch. Choose delicious, healthy foods that you know you’ll like and look forward to eating. Make a colorful salad the night before. Take along hard boiled eggs or a thermos of vegetable soup. All of these steps can cut down on unnecessary calories, sugar and fat.

Concentrate on your food. Eating at your desk is fine, but don’t work or surf the internet at the same time. Research reveals that people eat 15% more calories if they eat while distracted.

Try to take a lunchtime walk for at least 10-15 minutes each day. You will burn 50-100 calories and did you know that’s enough to prevent the 5-10 lbs the average person puts on each decade and blames on their age?

Taking your time over lunch and chewing everything well will help your weight loss further. If you don’t chew correctly, your brain signals aren’t as strong and you eat more than you need.

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Your 90 Day Self Appreciation Plan

Your 90 Day Self Appreciation Plan

Let’s face it. We’ve all got good intentions regarding our health and wellness. But it seems like there is always something else to do, things to get done and places to be. We don’t have to look very far to find excuses and reasons to procrastinate when it comes to being more active and physically fit. Before we know it, months and years pass us by and we find ourselves less healthy than we’ve been in some time.

The more time that passes, the less fit we are and the harder it is to get started moving again. We also realize that we’ve lost confidence in ourselves in addition to strength and stamina. That makes it a lot easier to give up and go home when we know we should keep pushing through our exercise roadblocks

It seems like summer has flown by and we are running headfirst into fall. Here at Walkingspree, in south Texas, we are just hoping for temperatures below 90 but that’s another story. It is worth noting that one thing we all have in common, no matter what state we live in, is that fall routines are more, well… routine. So there will be new times and moments to create new beginnings for ourselves. This is our opportunity to create a new habit before colder winter days set in. That is key. Get that habit in place before the weather makes us think twice!

Your Personalized 90 Day Self Appreciation Plan

Let’s say that most people have at least 8 weeks, maybe twelve, before cold temperatures set in. In southern states, we have several months before we say it’s “too cold.” But everyone has at least 8-12 weeks.

Sure, you are always going to have your everyday responsibilities. Career, relationships, kids, life and all that goes with it. That’s why you have to look at your schedule and purposefully find that small window of time for you. Even if it means carving out just 20 minutes of your day. Put it on your calendar, enter it into your phone with a reminder. You have to put on a blindfold when it comes to all the other distractions that try to pull you away from that one small time frame set aside for you.

You also have to fight off your biggest enemy: Yourself. Don’t give in to the following (or similar) thoughts “I don’t feel good today.” Or “I’m just not in the mood.” Or “I’ll start tomorrow.” Or “Today was a really bad day, I’ll start when I feel more positive.” Or “I’m so tired. I just need to rest.”

Your own thoughts can be your biggest obstacle. Sometimes it helps to just visualize slamming a door on those thoughts as soon as you think them. Sure, counter it with a positive thought like “Walking gives me more energy, so I won’t be so tired so often.”  But definitely give yourself the mental picture of slamming a door on the negative thought and padlocking it. When you do that, you are also giving your brain the message that those thoughts are not welcome. In some ways, you will also be ‘training the brain’ while you are creating your new habit.

Set the time in your calendar for the next 90 days. Call it “Self Appreciation” or “Self-Improvement” instead of “exercise” or “working out” if those terms don’t inspire excitement in you. Create a start date and an end date. Even if it means you only choose to be more active three days a week for 20 minutes at a time. Chances are, after your first week or two of meeting your goals, you may choose to bump it up to four times a week. Starting small is perfectly alright.

Don’t Limit or Compare Yourself

Remember everyone is different and we all have to start at our own starting line. If you haven’t worked out or been active in quite some time, you’re starting line may look very simple. It may mean a 15-minute walk around the block with five minutes of stretching.  For someone else, the starting line might be a brisk 30-minute walk or a light jog along a favorite trail.

Stay Accountable

Call a friend (or a group of friends) to join you. Studies show that when people know there is someone waiting and counting on them to show up, they are more likely to stick to a fitness routine and see results.

Last, but not least, stay positive! This is not a contest or a race. This is about being healthy, happy and creating a habit. Habits don’t just ‘end’ like a race or a contest. They are meant to keep going and be a consistent part of your life. So, once your personalized 90 Day Self Appreciation Plan is complete, just start a new one. Personalize it some more. Add different activities and try new things. Or, simply keep improving on what you’ve already begun.

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Dairy — More than Just for Healthy Bones

Dairy – More than Just for Healthy Bones

Let’s focus on dairy for just a moment.

Did you know….

Milk is an excellent source of 9 essential nutrients —including calcium, protein, potassium, plus

Vitamins A, B–12 and D. And with nine out of 10 adults missing essential nutrients in their diet, milk is definitely a great choice.
Dairy products are essential to a healthy diet

DAIRY

THE BASICS:

Milk, cheese, yogurts that retain their calcium. Foods with little or no calcium, such as cream cheese and butter, are not. Choose milk items that are fat–free or low–fat.

RECOMMENDED SERVINGS:

Three servings a day.

THE RESEARCH:

The calcium in dairy products are known to keep bones healthy and reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Recent studies also show that dairy products reduce the risk of heart disease, reduce blood pressure and even found to help people lose weight.

DAIRY QUICK TIPS:

  • Drink milk with your meals
  • Use milk instead of water when preparing hot cereals like oatmeal
  • Use milk instead of water when preparing canned cream soups
  • Top casseroles, entries or vegetable with shredded low–fat cheese
  • Add a slice of low–fat cheese to sandwiches
  • Top a baked potato with low–fat yogurt
  • Make yogurt–based dips for dipping veggies
  • Snack on low–fat yogurt
  • Use milk or yogurt when making smoothies

ADDING DAIRY TO YOUR MENU:

All you need is three servings a day to reap the benefits. Try:

  • Milk in your breakfast cereal
  • A cup of yogurt or cheese sticks or cheddar cheese with whole wheat crackers for an afternoon snack
  • Milk as a beverage with dinner

So this week, make sure you include a dairy product with every meal.

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Calorie Slashing Tips for Labor Day Festivities

Calorie Slashing Tips for Labor Day Festivities

Some people consider Labor Day the end of summer. Cookouts and holiday fare have us observing the close of a season and wishing we’d used some calorie slashing tips for Labor Day festivities.

Officially or unofficially “The End” is subject to opinion and where you live. For Walkingspree, our headquarters happens to be in San Antonio, Texas where it still feels very much like summer and is set to be in the low 90’s this weekend. But despite our warmer climate, the signs of summer coming to an end are similar to our northern neighbors’ signs that don’t include temperature or weather. Public pools close down until next year.  The kids are back to school. College students have all moved back into dorms. We’re getting our families back in to a routine; waving farewell to the less structured, relaxed schedules of summer.

Summer’s end also means that Labor Day weekend is here, and, like most of the nation, we gather with friends and family. Maybe we’re outside grilling. Perhaps we’re tubing down the Guadalupe or Frio Rivers eating lunch out of a big ice chest which is also floating in a tube alongside us. It could be a delicious family buffet is the place to be.

However, you observe Labor Day, It’s a safe bet the rest of the nation is observing Labor Day in a similar manner. It’s also a safe bet we’ll end up consuming much more in calories and fat than we usually do. If you’re watching your weight and monitoring your nutrition intake, this can be a problem. So, we compiled four of the most powerful calorie slashing tips for Labor Day you’ll find.

Calorie Slashing Tips for Labor Day Festivities

1. Case the joint. Be selective. Tactically scan the buffet line first. “Studies show that individuals who are overweight tend to fill their plate as they go through the line,” says shares Marcey Rader, M.Ed, health and wellness expert for Extended Stay America Hotels. “Meanwhile, people at a recommended weight tend to be more strategic and take inventory, decide what they’re going to eat, and then grab a plate.”

In one study, researchers found that with buffet foods, the first foods seen by the diners are the foods most selected. Over 75% of diners selected the first food they saw, and the first three foods a person encountered in the buffet made up 66% of all the foods they put on their plate. And get this: Serving the less healthy foods first led diners to take 31% more total food items than when the less healthy foods weren’t served first.

Strategy: Walk around and decide what you want to eat (and why) before getting in line and reaching for your plate and utensils. Observe what foods are placed at the front as well as the middle and end of the buffet.

2.  Offer to contribute food at a potluck dinner or BBQ. Bring some healthy options so you know for sure you’ll have at least one option for healthier holiday food.

Strategy: Offer to contribute a few burgers or hot dogs and then make sure to choose lean beef burgers, lean all-beef hot dogs or even turkey burgers or turkey hot dogs.

3. Don’t be a creature of habit. Whether you are at a cookout, on the beach eating picnic foods, grilling burgers or hot dogs, stay away from the same old fare you eat at home. Make the day and the meal special. If someone has made their family’s famous recipe for homemade potato salad but there is also a bowl of potato chips sitting out, eat the potato salad. It’s likely to be made with fresh ingredients. It’s unique to the day. The chips are not. Neither are items that are obviously poured from a can or out of a bag from the frozen food aisle.

Strategy: Even if you know you will be selecting food outside your “personal nutrition guidelines,” experts recommend choosing food with fresh, clean ingredients.

4. Slash the calories. BBQ and the food included at BBQ gatherings tends to be higher in calories and fat. You can slash the calories by skipping the hamburger or hotdog bun.

Strategy: If a salad isn’t offered: Put extra lettuce, toppings and veggies on your plate alongside burger patties or hot dogs. Limit your cheeses and remember Tip#3: If it’s not ‘real’ cheese, skip it. You can do without partaking from the can of ‘spray cheese’ or imitation cheese slices.

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