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''I Walked From a Size 14 to a Size 8''

BONNIEBELLE2 Varied Her Walks to Reach Her Goals
  -- By SparkPeople Editorial Staff
Bonnie (BONNIEBELLE2), who declined to share her starting weight, knew she was overweight and was ready to do something about it. So she started by putting one foot in front of the other with a walking program. Forty-two pounds later, she’s dropped inches and dress sizes but also improved her own self-esteem and self-confidence. She credits a consistent and variety-packed walking program for her success!

Bonnie Before Bonnie After

How did walking help you reach your goals?
I lost 42 pounds in eight months as a SparkPeople member, and walking has been my main form of exercise.

What other exercises did you do besides walking?
I also did other things occasionally, like water aerobics, other DVDs, rebounding (on a mini trampoline), yoga, and strength training. But walking was really the core of my program.

I am still working on it after being on a major plateau where I kept losing and gaining the same few pounds for a few months. Now, I’m changing my program a bit, doing more strength training and a little less cardio than I was doing before.

How do you keep your walks fun and interesting?
I did a variety of different types of walking, and I tried to challenge myself by increasing the pace, distance, or incline.

The Leslie Sansone program (walking DVDs) involves basic walking, adds some other steps, and incorporates “walk boosters” like weighted balls, dumbbells, and resistance bands for variety. There are many different DVDs to choose from and it is a fun way to walk that does not depend on the weather. This is great for those people that don't feel comfortable exercising in public or on those cold or rainy days.

I also walked in my neighborhood and tried to take a different route every now and then for variety. Sometimes I would go walk by the lake, sometimes I would walk hills, sometimes I would listen to music, walk my dog, walk with my husband, or just walk and spend some quiet time alone working out things in my head.

On the treadmill I tried to vary my speed, incline, distance and time. I tried reading a book while on the treadmill but felt a little off balance with that, so I did better either listening to music or books on CD, or watching TV.

I also joined a hiking group and that was never boring because we went to various state parks and walking trails, took different routes, or started the routes from a different directions. Some walks were more challenging than others. There were always different people going and different things to see on the hike.

What tips would you give someone just starting a walking program?
  1. Start off slowly and listen to your body.
  2. Set goals and try to challenge yourself.
Besides weight loss, what other improvements have you noticed?
I lost inches and dropped several dress sizes (from a 14 to a size 8 or 6). I have more self-confidence and self-esteem. I have more energy; I sleep better at night. And I have a more positive attitude! I’ve noticed a difference in my relationships with others because I feel better about myself!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with other walkers?
Just do it! The hardest part is starting and then finding ways to stay motivated. I would plug into a support group such as SparkTeams or the SparkPeople Message Boards. You can also exercise with a buddy and set up a reward system for motivation. I would also recommend varying your program to avoid boredom and also to prevent your body from getting used to the routine.