For Real Weight Loss, Try This

No walkingPeople always ask me what they should be doing when it comes to exercising and I’m noticing a bit of a trend. When I ask them what they’re doing already, I get an answer usually like this, “Well I go to the gym and I’m on the [insert preferred cardio machine here] for about 45 minutes.” To which I say, “Wow, 45 minutes on the [insert said preferred cardio machine here]. That’s pretty good.” And they say, “Yeah, but I’m not losing any weight. What’s the deal? The only thing I’m getting out of it is I’m completely up-to-date on who Jessica Simpson is dating and why Jennifer Aniston can’t find a man.” A wave of confusion rolls over my face, and then slowly comprehension and then clarity. “Ah, you’re walking for 45 minutes, while reading People magazine.”

Listen, I love walking as much as the next person. I do it everyday and I exert the smallest amount of energy doing it. If I could float, I would. The thing is, when I’m walking, I don’t consider it exercising, I consider it walking. I’m moving from the living room to the kitchen. Or I’m going from my apartment to the store. I’m not sweating and I’m not raising my heart rate to where I find it difficult to have a conversation. I’m walking. So to get back to the conversation, at this point I will tell my inquisitive friend that walking is not going to get her the weight-loss that she’s looking for, and that goes for anyone else who is asking. My first suggestion in a situation like this is to spend less time at the gym. Why you ask? Because you’re about to enter into a world of exertion and you’re not going to last long. Eventually you’ll make it to the upper ranks and be able to hang a little longer, but in the beginning, your goal is to get in and get out in under 20 minutes. And don’t even think about bringing any reading materials with you. And if you brought a friend, save the conversation for later, this is business.

My second suggestion is intervals. I love intervals. Intervals are what make shorter workouts more effective than the long, boring ones. They make your heart come racing to life, they get the blood pumping and the body temperature rising and the sweat glands producing. Intervals are the weight-loss answer you’ve been waiting for. So what is an interval you ask? Take your walk, and add a trot. A jog. A sprint. Anything that imitates a running motion. Start out small and build up your strength. An example would be walking fast for three minutes, and jogging for one minute, then back to walking for three. And do this for 20 minutes. Once you get better at it and you’re not clutching your chest for air and wondering which realm of hell you’ve just entered, you start jogging for three and running for one. And then you start running for three and sprinting for one. You keep pushing yourself to do better, to do more and to do it faster because once your body adapts to the situation, you’re not burning as many calories and you’ve plateaued. We don’t want plateaus, we want weight-loss.

So there you have it. Walking is fine when it’s intended to get you from A to B, but it’s not going to cut it when you want to go from 140 to 130 pounds. Intervals, exertion, increased heart rate… all those put together can get you from one number on the scale to a lower one, I can pretty much guarantee you that. So next time you’re walking, think of this and test it out. That’ll be your first step in the right direction.

Anne Marie Costanzo is a nationally certified personal trainer and owner of Little Black Dress Personal Training. She can be reached at or (914) 841-1121.

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About the Author: Anne Marie Constanzo