Q: About a year ago I started walking several days each week in order to help me lose weight. I’ve lost 24 pounds so far but still have a way to go before I reach my goal. Recently I seem to have hit a plateau and haven’t lost a single pound for almost two weeks. What should I do to kick my weight loss back into gear? – Lisa, Denver
A: Great question, Lisa. There are actually several things you can do to rev it up a bit. First, try increasing the pace of your walks. The “ideal” for a training heart rate is 60 to 90 percent of the fastest your heart can beat in a minute. You can figure out your maximum heart rate by subtracting your age from 220. Then multiply the result by .6 to get the bottom and .9 to get the top of your target zone for aerobic training. If you can get your heart working a little harder, you’ll start shedding those pounds again.
You didn’t mention how long your walks are, but another way to pass the plateau is to increase the duration of your walks. If you’ve been spending 30 minutes a day on fitness walking, try stretching it to 35, 40 or 45 minutes. Also try walking more frequently. If you’re currently following a three walk per week schedule, try getting out four or five days per week.
You might also try mixing things up a bit. For example, if the only exercise you’re getting each day is your cardio walking, you might try adding strength training, Zumba, or bicycling to your workout regimen. Strength training is particularly helpful if you’re trying to lose weight because stronger muscles help you to burn calories more efficiently.
One last thing. You’ll also want to be mindful of your eating. Don’t use the fact that you’re walking a few days per week as an excuse for biggy-sizing your meals!