'I Lost 16% Body Fat by Walking'

Kiki (username YANKYKITTEN) joined SparkPeople in 2007 at 189 pounds and 46% body fat. She credits walking for her 47-pound weight loss and reduction to 30% body fat a year later. Find out how walking helped her drop the pounds, mentally focus during law school, and reconnect with her husband.

Kiki Before Kiki After

How did walking help you reach your goals?
All I have done to lose weight is walk! I now weigh 141 pounds, and I'm continuing to walk because I have knee problems. I know that I will be able to lose the rest of my weight this way, as long as I incorporate the good eating habits that SparkPeople has taught me and I remain consistent with my routine at least 95% of the time. Now, I have my husband walking with me, and that has really added a lot to our relationship, as well as made us both healthier.

How did you keep your walks fun and interesting?
To keep walks fun and interesting, I go to different places to walk. I used to go to nearby parks or walk to the shopping centers. Now that my husband, Hank (TBONEMAN) has joined me walking, we will go somewhere "special," like a hiking trail that is farther away, on Saturday or Sunday to walk together. Our summer vacation in the beginning of August was a hiking vacation in Cacapon State Park, W. Va. They have everything there for a healthy exercising vacation—kayaking, paddle boating, swimming—but we like hiking and walking. Some of the trails are very friendly, all paved and with hardly any hills, so anyone at any fitness level can walk there.

I have a treadmill for days that I can't walk outside. I want to get a DVD that runs my treadmill (it's an iFit), which I think would be REALLY cool, especially for winter. So that's a present I'm asking for.

What other exercises besides walking did you do?
Besides walking, I do some body weight exercises like crunches and pushups to try to build a little muscle.

What tips would you give someone just starting a walking program?
I would tell someone who is just starting to walk to take it easy at first. Listen to how your body responds for the first couple of weeks. Don't try to walk every day at first, unless you already do a lot of walking. Plan different routes and try to randomly select which one you will do. This is especially important if you live in a neighborhood that is a higher crime area (or next to one). Further, you might want to drive the route if you can, so you know approximately how far you are walking, before you walk the route. Try short walks first because you don't know how your body will respond.

I would also tell them to buy a decent treadmill, if you have the money. Do you research online about different models and their features. Look up Consumer Reports ratings—they often have different levels or expense ranges that they will rate for exercise equipment, including treadmills.

Try to set small goals and reward yourself for meeting them. For example: If you walk every day that you planned to during the week, put $5 in a jar to buy some new clothes, because if you keep it up, you're going to need them!

Besides weight loss, what other improvements have you noticed?
The improvements that I have noticed are endless, so I'll try to name the big ones. First, I definitely have a better attitude, and my stress levels have decreased dramatically. This happened even while I was in law school, which is supposed to be the most stressful time of a lawyer’s life because the Socratic Method they use to teach students is designed to push you to the edge.

Second, I'm no longer winded doing normal things, and I can even run across a street or for a short burst without hurting my knees and without getting winded. So, walking has definitely increased my cardiovascular health. I've also noticed that as my legs are getting more toned. As my BMI (body mass index) is dropping, my cellulite is disappearing, which is something that everyone told me wouldn't happen. I'm confident that when I reach my healthy BMI, it will no longer be noticeable. By the way, as of last night I dropped from obese at 30.4% body fat to 29.7%. I'm really psyched about that drop, and I'm taking a road trip this weekend as a reward.

Third, while you are walking you can have time to either meditate if you need to destress or think through a problem. I don't know what it is about walking, but it seems to get more blood to my problem solving area of the brain! I've thought many things through, and I've listened to law CD's on tape to help prepare for tests. I was able to raise my GPA while walking, and I don't think this is a coincidence. I think my brain needs the exercise, too. It is amazing how much you can get done—even though you are walking, you can be planning or learning. Now that I'm walking with my husband, we have time for conversation. I cannot tell you how valuable this has been for our relationship and our other life goals—not just fitness.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with other walkers?
One last thing I'd like to say is that everyone is a unique individual. Forensic scientists are now even seeing slight genetic differences between identical twins. Keep that in mind when you are reading what you should be doing, because what works for one person, might not work for you. You may need more time. You may need more or less food. It is important to tailor everything to you, your life, and your body. Good luck!