Fitness: Simple Run/Walk Fitness for Busy People (cont.)

Moderator: What are your thoughts about nutrition and weight loss?

Ward: I like to stick to the basics, and there are three essentials. One is a variety. If you choose many different foods, you will get the best mix of nutrients. Second, moderation, which means avoiding extremes. Even the unhealthiest foods can be worked into a good diet. And wholesomeness, I like to encourage people to choose foods with few or no preservatives, additives and artificial sweeteners. Even if someone is trying to lose weight, buy regular salad dressing and moderate the portion. Sometimes the fat free products do not satisfy, and sometimes they don't taste as good. Also, I recommend people follow the food guide pyramid, which once you get used to choosing healthier foods and a wide variety, things seem to fall into place. Weight starts coming off. I don't believe there are any foods you cannot have. There are just some that you need to be moderate about. As far as weight loss, eat smaller portions of what you currently eat. And this is an easy way to begin to change some eating habits. Second, cut back on foods without eliminating them and you won't feel deprived. Third, if you eat foods that are lower in fat, or have a high-fat choice, moderate the portion. If you eat the entirely low-fat foods, you may not feel satisfied. Fourth, if you keep a seven-day journal of everything you eat, it will be an eye-opening experience. Many of us think we're eating a very healthy diet, but people see places where you can make some changes. It's also important to try to distinguish between physical hunger and emotional hunger. But that is a big topic. Also, I recommend people be very patient because quality weight loss is a very slow process, and lastly, stay off the scale. The scale is not your friend! And especially with women, there are water fluctuations in our bodies that can range from two pounds to six pounds overnight. And this is not body fat. But the scale won't tell you that. If you want to keep track of your weight, step on the scale once a month and the same time during the month, and that is a better way to show changes.

Moderator: Will a long-distance runner have a different diet than moderate run/walker, i.e., more carbohydrates?

Ward: Actually, the studies recently done state that long distance runners do need to have a higher content of fat. So, a very low-fat diet would not be good for someone who is planning a marathon. You would want to incorporate some fats, about 30% of normal calories. Some of the healthier fats include salad dressing, avocados, seeds, nuts, which in large quantities can add too many calories.

Moderator: What about the day before a race? How does the diet change?

Ward: Usually if you eat what you're normally used to eating, you will have the best results, without making too many changes. Not too much protein, plenty of carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, pasta cooked slightly firm), protein (fish, lean poultry, perhaps in a stir fry). Not too many vegetables, because you don't want to have a high fiber content, and you do want to have some fat so that you're not hungry.

Moderator: So are the carbohydrate-loading dinners the night before the race generally a good idea?

Ward: They're fine. It's basically a tradition. There's usually some great pasta dishes, with a moderate amount of fat.

Moderator: Why did you write this book? How did you come up with this run/walk program?

Ward: I found most exercise books very complex, confusing and often misleading. Also, I was not able to find anything for the average busy person who perhaps does not want to become a runner. I wanted to offer a program that would help people become consistent and one that would fit into a busy lifestyle. I felt it was important that the program be simple and involve the most basic exercise. I figured out the minimum amount of exercise one would have to do in order to complete a full marathon. Then I tried it myself. When it worked for me, each year I began a free training group. What I noticed is everyone who stuck with the program has been successful. And I was amazed and I felt I had to share this information and show people that they can do it.

Moderator: What are the most important things to keep in mind to be successful in your exercise regimen?

Ward: The most important thing is to stick with the three days a week. Try not to get overly motivated and do more than that, because you may burn out. Also be patient. There are some days when exercise is just harder than other days. It could be lack of sleep, a stressful day at work, something to do with what you ate, the weather. It's very hard to run on a windy day. So some days are just harder than others. And know that if you have a hard day, the next day is going to be easy. And there are some days when you feel very strong, so be patient and stick with it and you will see amazing changes in your body and in your level of confidence.

Moderator: Who will benefit most from the information in your book?

Ward: People who feel motivated by personal accomplishment, people who are busy who feel exercise is complex, anyone that wants to build self-confidence. This is a great program especially if you choose to complete a marathon or half marathon. This is a great program for those who are looking to refocus themselves. This program teaches a lot about yourself and your body. It can be helpful during periods of stress. It's also a great program for people who truly believe that they cannot run. It will change their minds.

Moderator: Do you recommend people having a running buddy to help them in the program?

Ward: Absolutely. When you run with a partner or a small group of friends, they're all waiting for you. So you will be much more likely to show up. And on days when you feel like not showing up, your partner will encourage you. Also the social aspect, you'll meet new people, invite new people, and you can talk about things, movies, et cetera. When I train in my group you cannot talk negatively. You must talk about good things. And it's a great way to keep yourself motivated. So I definitely recommend getting a few people together, the more the better.

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