Thursday, April 10, 2014

Walking to Winnipeg: Welcome to Wawa

Half Way There!

For anyone who has driven across Ontario, the town of Wawa with its massive Canada Goose statue is often a welcome site because it is more or less half way.  As a result, there are probably more motel rooms per capita there than any other town in Canada.

Having received my 1000 kilometer badger from Fitbit today tells me that I've made it to Wawa.  Not bad for three months of walking.  Since the beginning of the year, I have averaged just a little over 10 kilometers a day. 

Now that I'm about half way to Winnipeg, I am pretty confident that I'll make it there in a few more months.  One thing that will slow my progress is that with Spring arriving, I'll be commuting to work on my bicycle, which will means less distance covered on foot.

At the moment, I'm looking at my options for tracking my distance by bike.  It would be nice to know at the end of the year how many kilometres I covered on two wheels and on two feet.

Just in case your wondering, I've dropped 8 pounds since I began my trek.  Hopefully, I can continue to shed more by the time I reach my goal of arriving in the Paris of the Prairies.

Is Walking Just as Good as Running?

I thought I would share this article that I came across in the US News, Health and Wellness section.

A May 2013 study by researchers in the Life Science Division at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory looked at data from 33,000 runners and nearly 16,000 walkers to compare the relative health benefits of each activity. From the outside it might seem like running – which is considered a vigorous intensity exercise – must be better for you than walking, a moderate form of exercise. But the results bore out differently, with walking taking a slight edge in the end. But there's a big if, so keep reading.

To be sure, both walking and running had positive effects. When the researchers checked in with participants six years after the start of the study, they found that running significantly reduced the risk of high blood pressure (by 4.2 percent), high cholesterol (4.3 percent), diabetes (12.1 percent) and cardiovascular heart disease (4.5 percent), for every MET h/d, which is a standard measure of metabolic energy expenditure. Great news, right? Well, it gets even better.

Participants who walked regularly saw even better results. Walking decreased risk by 7.2 percent for high blood pressure, 7 percent for high cholesterol, 12.3 percent for diabetes and 9.3 percent for cardiovascular heart disease. The more someone walked or ran, the greater the benefit.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Breaking Through A Weight Loss Plateau

Eventually, it happens.  After a great start, where the pounds are shed easily, our bodies react and the weight loss tails off or stalls altogether.

In my case, after losing about 25 pound in about 12 weeks, I hit a plateau,  I've been stuck there for about 4 weeks.  In short, my weight, taken once a week, would fluctuate between 258 and 262 pounds, in what seemed to be a random fashion.  It wasn't as if I was periodically binging out and that some bad food choices were causing me to gain weight during one week or another.  My exercise regime was the same and I stuck to my new way of eating.

Was this my dreaded body set weight that would doom me to remain at an unsatisfactory weight?  If so, it would have been a major defeat.

Fortunately, I took a close look at what has worked previously and what had changed since then.  Most probably, I had let enough calories sneak back into my diet thereby negating my daily calorie deficit.  The culprits?  Too many mixed nuts and my power oatmeal breakfast supplemented with coconut oil and whey protein powder.

To remedy the situation, I decided to change my snack from mixed nuts to natural, unsalted almonds and to go back to eating Greek yogurt with berries and a few walnuts for breakfast.  At the same time, I continued to walk about 70-80 kilometres a week and to do one strength training session and one metabolic training session per week.  This way, I would know whether it was the change to my diet that affected any change in weight.

Sure enough, I started to drop more weight, falling from 258 to 255.  Although this might not seem like a lot, after four weeks of being stuck on a plateau, it brought welcome relief and definitely picked up my spirits.

Now that spring has finally arrived, I plan on sticking with my recent changes to my diet and adding a cycling regime to my exercise habits.  In the past, I have been able to control my weight by commuting to work on my bike.  Yet, I have never combined being very physically active with a slow carb approach to eating.  Previously, I always used exercise to give me a carte blanche with regard to my food choices.

As you could probably imagine, I'm looking forward to getting back on the saddle to see where this new combination can take me.