Losing weight can seem like a daunting task that will take many months for any real progress. By adding exercise to the mix, you can safely speed up your weight loss while improving your stamina, energy and body shape more quickly than with diet alone. It’s always important to check with your doctor before embarking on an exercise program and to see a professional body worker to determine your own body’s capabilities and limits. Remember if you increase your caloric intake to be equal or greater than what you are burning, you won’t lose weight. Also remember that muscle weighs more than fat, but it will help you burn fat by increasing your metabolism. There may be a week in there where you end up with no weight change or a half pound increase as your body is changing. Even if you haven’t exercised in a long time or are quite overweight, this week by week plan can help you get a really good start on fitness and health for life.
It’s important to start an exercise program slowly so that you feel encouraged and inspired to do more the next week. Start your 3 month plan with a commitment to take a 10 minute walk on flat ground, four days during the week. Begin and end each walk with some easy leg and arm stretches for about three to five minutes.
For this week, increase your walking time to 15 to 20 minutes, four times a week. If your muscles were sore last week, stretch just a bit more each time you walk, and reward yourself with a hot bath or sauna once during the week.
You should be feeling a bit more energy and ability to work harder. Turn your 20 minute walk into more of a workout by either going uphill for five to 10 minutes or bending your arms and swinging them vigorously.
Increase your walks to 25 minutes this week. Keep up a good pace so that you walk at least a mile in the half hour, preferably a mile and a quarter. Maintain the hill walking as well as the six to 10 minutes of stretching.
It’s time to add some muscle toning to your workout. Start with an at-home plan of 10 minutes, three times a week, in addition to 25-minute walks. At some point in the middle of your walk, spend five minutes either walking up a very steep hill or a staircase or marching in place with very high knees. Then take five minutes to do arm bends with the palms up and then palms down.
Increasing to a 45 minute workout four times a week should feel pretty doable at this point. Go back to a 30 minute walk and make it as brisk as possible without running. You can do your weight training before or after the walk. You may want to consider joining a gym at this point, but it’s not necessary. You can use three- to five-pound weights for your arm curls and increase your major hill walking or marching to 10 minutes. Alternate the arm work days with some days where the toning work is leg lifts to the front, side and back.
Weeks 7 to 12
You might be super motivated and already noticing a difference in your body. If 45 minutes, four times a week is the most you can do, that’s fine. You can make the most of these workouts by doing more uphills, adding weight to the arm work or taking part of your aerobic time to do some really vigorous dancing. You could also go to a fifth day that’s just a walk or just some lower body or abdominal work.