After having taken to fitness in 2011 at a ripe young age of 43 weighing 104 kg with all parameters like Body Fat, WHR, muscle mass etc. in total disarray, I have demonstrated exceptional discipline and tenacity to achieve a personal best of 79 kilos with a body fat of 19%, muscle mass of 34%, 8 inches off my waist and a fitness score of 90 in the BCA. The discipline over food and exercise regime which has seen many peaks and troughs (and is a different story) has continued in last 4 years. Today I stand at 82 kilos and yes the weight loss has plateaued but I am at peace with myself as I have realized that it is slightly late to give competition to John Abraham.
Walking – The most underrated exercise
There are many learnings about fitness & nutrition, weight loss but today I want to share is the profound lesson I learnt in Japan which changed my attitude about exercise.
In October 2015, I was transferred to Hong Kong and Japan was the first country for my project. Due to my daughter’s education, family would stay in India and hence it was a start of a completely new phase of life for me. My hotel in Japan had three cardio equipment in a make –shift room and office hours in Japan are long and it gets dark early and the weather is nippy making outside runs a little less comfortable. So my choices of exercise were limited. It is here I discovered the joys and effectiveness of the most underrated exercise – Walking.
I don’t know about others but generally for me walking was a waste of time because in the same time one could burn three or four times calories by simply jogging. After all, walking is for old people and those who cannot run or have issues with rigorous exercises.
Walking my way to health
With limited options, I decided to walk to my office which was a mile away and along with other daily chores like finding food; I started averaging 5 to 6 kms every day. As I gained confidence in terms of the alternate routes and geography I started simple experiments to improve the intensity of my walks. It is not difficult to stuff a laptop bag with papers to make it around 3 – 4 kgs. Carrying this like a briefcase adds a whole new dimension to a simple walk.
Since my office distance to & fro was set, the classical technique of walking faster every day and shaving off 30-60 seconds every day adds a bit of adventure and competition.
My only competition was ‘Me’
For a week it seems easy but as you concentrate to get better than yourself on a daily basis, very soon the addiction of beating yourself converts a mere walk into a gladiator ring. The steps become longer and faster, each stride more rapid than the other, each step trying to outdo the other. In about two weeks, I was effortlessly passing many walkers on the street and building up a nice rhythm and gait. Many runners will realize this feeling of being in the zone, there are days when everything goes well and one is able to run much longer.
Increased focus & Observation
I started becoming more aware of my walks and this in turned increased my attention to detail. I improved my posture to be more upright while walking rather than walk with a slight bend (looking down). My stability and centre of gravity improved, increasing the tension on the core area. The increased awareness helped me to brace my abs while walking and hence a simple walk was now transformed into almost jogging speed, with unstable weight and braced abs which worked on the core.
The pedometers only record the number of steps and a very rough pre-programmed calorie loss but in my opinion, the above steps increase the calorie loss, thus bringing it within striking distance of a leisurely jog without pounding your joints that much.
Keep the distraction away
I also would like to point out to scores and innumerable people who walk but with a cellphone in their hand, talking incessantly. There is no way you can concentrate on speed or abs or an erect posture and therefore 45 minutes’ walk is not even as effective as the above 15 minute walk. Try it and you will find the difference.
On weekends I went on day tours around Tokyo and the walking increased to more than 10 kms those days. The best I did was 19 kms in a day and many of us have a problem understanding the combined effect of many small numbers because of the fascination with large numbers in all spheres of life. In the macho world of fitness, a 60 Minute HIIT session with a calorie loss of 600 makes for a much better reading than 200-250 calories of walking. Anyway for me with my limitations I walked about 185 kms in 25 days and enjoyed every bit of it.
For the sake of record, Tokyo has some amazing tracks to run right in the middle of the city and it is a sheer delight to see hundreds of people running. Besides my discovery of joys of walking, the weekend runs in Tokyo in the chilly mornings are wonderful.
Walk your way to a healthy body and mind!