Strength Training

Using Photo Food Logs in Your Wellness Program

Face it, you want variety in your wellness program and a good wellness program includes smart meal choices. It’s Friday and after a week of rotating out meals with ground beef, chicken (or fish sticks for those with young kids), you may want to put together a meal that engages your senses, and makes you feel like it’s a special occasion.

Whatever recipe you choose, whichever wellness program you participate in, did you know that impressing your friends by posting dinner pictures on Instagram and Facebook can help you reach your weight management goals?

Introducing the Photo Food Log…

Instead of writing down everything you eat or using a food and calorie-tracking app, take photos of your food. Just pick up your phone and start snapping shots at each meal. It’s fun and it really helps you understand what you’re doing with your meals and food intake. Facebook and Instagram aside, you’ll be doing something healthy for yourself. If you decide to post your pictures online, you may find that your friends are happy to give you a thumbs-up and provide another form of motivation for you.

When you include a photo food log in your wellness program, you can look at your meals at the end of each day and mentally note what changes you’d like to make the next day. Another way to monitor your progress is to evaluate your photos on a weekly basis. For example, you can take photos of all your meals – then at the end of the week, take stock of your progress. Are you losing weight? Maintaining? How do you FEEL? Are you feeling healthier, better and more energetic? If so, your photos are a good reminder of what to keep doing.

If you feel tired, lethargic and generally not at your best AND your either gaining or not losing weight, you know that your pictures need to look different the next week.

The Importance of Food Tracking

Maintaining a daily food journal, whether written or photographic is an efficient way to track the calories you consume daily. Walkingspree members can also use Walkingspree’s online food tracker.

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood benefits of a food diary is the power of knowing what you’re taking in. Almost everyone thinks they know exactly what they eat daily. You might even go so far as to believe you know the amount of calories you’re consuming at each meal.  Still, the reality is most people eat more than three times daily. The majority of their extra calories undoubtedly come from eating between meals.

Bottom line: When you are able to see what you eat everyday, you’ll know which foods to cut from your meal plans.

A study, published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, discovered that women (who were overweight or obese) who were participating in a diet program only or diet plus exercise program all lost weight but the women who kept daily food journals actually lost an extra six pounds over the women who did not keep food diaries of some sort.

A Food Journal Can Help You Eat More of the Right Foods

Ever wonder if you are getting enough veggies? Well, when you record your entire daily food intake into a food journal – or when you photograph your food, you’ll begin to notice patterns and trends in how you feel as well as whether or not you reach your daily goals. Some people find that making sure their meals have a variety of color ensures their vegetable intake is optimal. Think red bell peppers or tomatoes, yellow squash, orange peppers, green peas, black beans, white cauliflower, green broccoli, purple eggplant. If you are purposefully building a colorful plate, you will usually have plenty of vegetables in your meal. With a photo food journal, you’ll enjoy taking colorful photos when you do this. You might even find yourself arranging food to make the plate “look prettier.”

Food Journals Can Adjust Your Habits Gradually

If you are writing down, digitally tracking or photographing your food, you might be surprised to notice, over time, that your eating habits change. You’ll find yourself naturally selecting healthier ingredients or menu options. It is as simple “if you feel better and healthier – you’re probably eating healthier.”

And, in any wellness program, that is always a good thing!

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Take a Leap and Reset Your Life

It’s Leap Day. What are you going to do with your extra day in the year? We all sometimes wish for extra hours in our days. Well, we have an extra twenty-four hours this week.

What’s your “leap?”

Maybe this is the day you decide to do something amazing. Maybe it’s the day you take that leap of faith and start a new life somewhere, start a new exercise program or just start going for a walk once a day. Sometimes, one small step is actually a leap of faith. It can lead to a break through in that one area of your life you really want to repair. You may not see it yet but you know and trust that if you keep moving consistently you’ll see new levels of success, organization, fitness and health.  Why not use a Leap Day or a Leap Year as your jumping point?

For some of us, this could be the perfect day to reset our New Year’s resolutions. The end of February has traditionally been the time of year fitness centers and gyms see attendance start to decline (after the usual rush right after January 1).  We’ve all either done it ourselves or witnessed it: People getting excited, saying this will be the year I tone up, get in shape, lose weight, run a 5K and so on. Then, about two months into the New Year, that zeal and fire just seems to fizzle out. Maybe it’s because we had a huge amount of ‘life’ going on. It could be that you were blessed with a bad winter cold that morphed into the bronchitis attack from you-know-where. Or, it might be that your kids took turns getting sick, one week after another, passing it to you and your spouse. Whatever was going on, your goal of getting in shape, exercising daily, cleaning out your garage, attending church, being more spiritual, stopping smoking, quitting caffeine or just getting more fresh air took a backseat to other things.

Create a ‘Reset Your Life’ Program

Why not let Leap Day (or whatever day you read this!) be THE day you start your  own Reset My Life program? Do something to make it “official.” It might be something as simple as picking up a wall calendar from your local dollar store and making that very first “X” to show TODAY as the day you began to change whatever needs changing or fix whatever needs fixing.

Need more ceremony to go with your new decision? Why not kick things off with more flourish and host an impromptu party? Do it tonight. Light some candles around the house. Play some party music while you organize the closets and resolve to never let them get cluttered again. Trying to eat right? Meet friends for dinner and celebrate ordering healthy food for dinner on your first night resetting your life.  Drink a toast to your new life (with sparkling water of course!) Time to start exercising? Lace up your shoes after work or after the kids get home and start a “Family Walking Night.”

While the saying “Today is the first day of the rest of your life” is true, only you can designate the start date of an official “Reset My Life” program and tailor it to your needs.

So, what are you waiting for? Take the first step. Design your life. Truly, it only needs to be one small step at a time. Walkingspree likes to recommend a walking program simply because it is so easy to do and offers so many health benefits that lead to positive lifestyle changes. Still, the reality is, this is your life.

What “leap” will you take today?

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Make the great outdoors your gym

A great way to spice up your walk is to add some strength training exercise intervals during your walk. You’ll be amazed by how quickly your regular walk will pass by. After five minutes of walking, do one minute of exercise. Choose a different exercise for each five minute walk cycle.

Start on your regular walking or running workout with a good 10 minute warm up followed by stretching. Choose a route that takes you through a park or some place with park benches, playground equipment, cement retaining walls, stairs, or hills – your very own outdoor gym.

Walking Lunges

Walking lunges provide a good workout for the glutes, quads and hamstrings. They also improve flexibility in the legs and hips. Be sure not to extend the knee past the foot, but keep it at a 90 degree angle.


Park Bench Tricep Dips

This exercise works the triceps in the arms. Sit on a park bench and then lift your body weight up and out, palms on the edge of the bench and facing out and your elbows straight. Your knees will be bent and your feet flat on the ground. Bend your elbows and then straighten to dip down and up. Be sure not to rock back and forth away from and back to the bench. Instead, keep your back very close to the bench during the entire movement and limit the movement to up and down.


Bench Step Ups or Stairs

Stand in front of a park bench and step up, up, down, down, making sure your heel isn’t hanging off the edge of the step. This works your glutes and quads. Benches are higher off the ground, so stairs may be a better option for beginners.


Park bench/Playground Sit Ups

Place your feet under a hanging edge/handle. Rest the palms of your hands behind your head and raise your upper body. Do not pull your head forward and keep your back straight.


Be creative. You can use playground equipment to do push ups/pull ups, squats and more. You just have to start seeing the outdoors as your personal gym and combined with your walks for a perfect workout.

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Take your Core for a Walk

A weak core can make you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries – making it difficult to keep up with your walking.

Some of the major muscles include those in your back (multifidus, erector spinae) and your abdomen (external oblique, transversus abdominis, rectus abdominis). Your core muscles must work in harmony to provide stability to your body and brace and support you when needed.

Strengthening your core

Core strengthening requires the regular and proper exercise of your body's 29 core muscles. Basic exercises that will enhance your core fitness include the:

  • Bridge
  • Abdominal crunch or sit-up
  • Plank

A fun alternative to your basic core strengthening regimen is to learn exercises that use a fitness ball. Balancing on these oversized, inflated balls requires that you focus on using your core muscles for support and improve your walking.

Getting the most from your workout

It's important to do your core exercises at least three times a week. For optimal results, remember to:

  • Choose exercises that work your core muscles simultaneously. Rather than isolate each muscle group in your trunk, the best exercises for your core are those that get muscles working together at the same time.
  • Focus on quality of movement rather than quantity. You'll gradually build up to a greater number of repetitions. When starting out, take it slow and learn how to properly perform each exercise with optimal technique.
  • Breathe steadily and slowly. Breathe freely while doing each of the exercises in your core strengthening workout. Your instinct may be to hold your breath during an exercise, but it's better to continue breathing.
  • Take a break when you need one. When your muscles get tired, stop and change exercises. And, if you work your core muscles to fatigue during an exercise session, wait at least a day between workouts to allow the muscles to recover.

Keep in mind that strengthening workouts — even core strengthening — are just one part of a complete fitness program. Keep on walking and include flexibility training to round out your regimen.

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Mini Circuit Workout

This is a  quick, fun and effective In-Home workout that you can do using your bodyweight, dumbbells, bands, soup cans or milk containers:


Start with 1 set at your personal pace and do your best.  If you feel any stress, or discomfort, please discontinue. So without further ado…here we go!


1. Always start of with 5-7 minutes of warming up your body:Light marching or jogging in place or any continual movement.


2. 10-15 Push-ups (chest/shoulders/triceps), on the floor, or using the wall.


3. 15-20 Squats (quads/hamstrings/glutes): Use a chair for support if needed.


4. 1-minute of Jump rope/Jumping Jacks/Marching or Jogging in place.


5. 10-15 Bent Over or 1 Arm Rows (back/shoulders/biceps), using med to light weights, soup cans or a water jug.


6. 10-20 Lunges (quads/hams/glutes): Use a chair, wall or dowel for balance if needed.


7. 1-minute of Jump rope/Jumping Jacks/Marching or Jogging in place.


8. 15-25 Bicycles or Alternating Bicycles Crunches (total abs):  When executing Alternating  Bicycles Crunches keep 1 foot on the floor at all times, instead of both feet off the floor.


9. 20-25 Basic Crunches on the floor. 


If you find that you can do 2 sets (or circuits) great! This mini-workout will assist you getting back on track for the New Year!


"Dream Boldly and Wait for the Magic to Happen"

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