30 Mar National Walking Day Interview with Leslie!
Read the transcript from Leslie’s interview with furtherfood.com, and don’t miss “10 WALKS to a Healthy Body” Challenge – read below!
1) Did you start National Walking Day? Why did it start?
(big laugh) I wish I thought of it. It started with the good people at The American Heart Association! About 10 years ago AHA designated the 1st Wednesday of April as National Walking Day that kicks off a month long initiative to encourage Americans to live a healthier lifestyle by walking more! The world is so different than it was 20, 30, 40 years ago! Can you believe we are at the “least active” time in the history of man! Really! We just stopped walking…it’s not just cars, transportation, sedentary jobs, that slowed us down…it’s now that our screens do everything for us, we don’t have to move at all! We can have everything brought to our door. The UPS person is burning all your calories!!! Physical inactivity is a huge national problem. About 70 percent of Americans struggle with maintaining a healthy weight and don’t get enough physical activity. A sedentary lifestyle puts us at HIGH RISK for all diseases! Let’s not take this “sitting down” people! The AHA gives us great tools, science and information to turn this around! And did you know that just a few months ago, our TOP Doc, the Surgeon General released his Step It Up campaign. It’s the most important Call to ACTION ever for our nation’s health. Please everyone, go to surgeongeneral.gov and learn why he became so passionate about Walking and Walkable communities!
2) Do you have any particular success stories from someone who used your DVDs to help improve their health, particularly diabetes or heart health?
Oh my goodness…my FAVE topic, stories of inspiring people that have turned their health around!!! I have to say we are spoiled in this category. We get story after story after story when people FEEL BETTER, they LIVE BETTER, and they want to share their stories…oh wait…although I can give you mountains of testimony regarding diabetes and heart health (amen!) I have to share this one, that really HIT HOME. I was just in the doctors office with a family member that is “trending” toward Type 2 Diabetes. The doctor prescribed 10,000 STEPS a DAY for 90 DAYS “BEFORE” prescribing drugs. The doctor chose to “ challenge” their patient for 90 Days! (*** By the way, The doctor does not know my profession, only that I was a concerned family member). I am going back in 90 Days with my family member. I can’t wait to see the “science at work” because I KNOW IT (Walking) WORKS! Wondering why I couldn’t motivate this family member to “WALK MORE?” Because my family is just like everyone else’s. I have people all around me, everyday, who don’t have “ears to hear” the message of healthy choices for our mind, body and soul! Now I have HOPE again for this family member that doesn’t get motivated by me, but I think the DOC will get them to WALK! So here’s to all the AMAZING DOCTORS that FIRST challenge their patients to WALK MORE…as the best MEDICINE!
OK, and just a quick 2nd INCREDIBLE testimony: Eleanor from New Jersey said “It’s AMAZING what WALKING can do!” She is in her 60’s, has a family history of Heart Disease and thought she was destined to be on the same path as her grandparents, parents, siblings…she, like her family members, was on Cholesterol drugs, High Blood pressure drugs for years, then read a report that gave her some new information. Many diseases are from the “habits” we adopt from our families, not necessarily from “family history,” more from “family HABITS” like sedentary lifestyles, low quality meals, habits that set us up for High Risk of all diseases. She started WALKING MORE, she walked away 1 drug, then 2, then 3. She is now ONLY taking the medicine of MILES. Her WALKING SHOES are her healthcare expenses. She said her Docs just CHEER for her each time she gets a check up!!! In her 60’s and turned her health around!!! At any time of life we can TAKE CONTROL!
3) You talk in your videos about being positive. Sometimes that’s easier said than done. Do you have any suggestions on how to stay positive, especially if someone is struggling with health issues or has a lot of weight to lose?
I can relate to that! A whole lot of healthy “talk” sometimes feels like just that “all talk!” Staying positive every hour of every day is a CHALLENGE! The truth is life just isn’t so positive every minute, and so many forces are all around us that bring us down. My advice: put your “armor” on as early in the day as you can. EXERCISE before anything else can interrupt. Physical activity stimulates the MOST POWERFUL chemicals to “change our brain” or “mood,” more potent than any drug on earth…it’s ENDORPHINS! They are produced naturally when we are in motion, in a brisk way. They make us feel POWERFUL, STRONG, OPTIMISTIC, HOPEFUL. We feel like we can handle whatever the day brings. This is even MORE important than changing your diet to lose weight. That is a big reason why so many of us fail to lose weight when we just DIET! That is the worst approach to weight loss, in my opinion. To “diet” away the extra pounds is depressing, and if we do get some weight off that way, our metabolism also slows down because muscle mass decreases. Now we have to eat smaller and smaller portions just to maintain the weight loss. Whew! It’s frustrating!!! Without EXERCISE, which keeps our metabolism firing, our body’s full of energy, our body’s systems – like bone, muscle, heart, lungs working in good order – our emotions full of hope. Without EXERCISE, life is HARD!
If you have goals to be in better health, to lose extra weight, starting WALKING please. I have studied this for almost 3 decades, and it’s true, something so very simple can really solve so many issues that can interrupt, or worse, “disrupt” the gift of Life! You can always start that new diet AFTER you make Fitness Walking your NEW Healthy HABIT! Many people start WALKING and find they didn’t need the diet after all. The weight dropped. Many of us already make good food choices…it’s the activity we need!
4) Do you have any special diet that you follow or recommend in addition to your exercise program to maximize health benefits?
Hmmmm…let me look at my previous answer. Did I answer this in that response? Not really. So I do recommend foods that fuel health; good quality foods, fresh and whole foods. I grew up when backyard gardens were common, so of course “a plant-based diet” was easy for us! Veggies, fruit, nuts, whole grains, lean proteins, as many chemical-free foods as possible. If I had to describe my meals, they are Mediterranean-style: fish, greens, olive oil, garlic, lemon…oouuu I’m getting hungry. Now wait…I come from Italian grandparents (both sides). Would I not eat Spaghetti on Sunday??? NEVER!!! I am fortunate to have a Registered Dietician in my family who says “all foods fit!” I agree. We can eat the foods we love in moderation. I will end with this: we find people who start a regular routine of exercise (fitness walking, etc.) are more likely to make better choices at meal time, and, even further, make better choices with “portions!” One GOOD CHOICE (like walking more) always leads to another (like healthy meals)!
5) You’ve been making videos for over 30 years. Has your exercise philosophy changed? Are today’s walking videos different in intensity or type of workout than when you first started?
WOW! That’s a NEW question for me. Thank you for that! My fitness career started when I was Certified by a group called California Aerobic Dance in 1980! We have come a long way from those days for sure! “Aerobic Dance” classes were based on science, “specific” science from our “Father of Aerobics” – Dr. Kenneth Cooper of the Cooper Institute of Aerobics Research! My certification spawned my love for all ways that we can be active and healthy. I started a fitness club to offer Group Exercise Classes, Cardio Equipment, Strength Training Equipment and programs. I love it all! It helped me to be more than a Group Exercise Leader. I had to study the latest exercise science trends, stay up to date through my associations like IDEA Health & Fitness Association, ACSM American College of Sports Medicine, and others. Science keeps me creative. How can I use the methods of Pilates in a Walking Workout? Did it! How can we use the science of strength training and apply it to Cardio Walks? We do it! Can we create a workout that will address all of the essentials of fitness: cardio, strength, flexibility, into one workout? We do it all the time! The WALKS have a central “method” that doesn’t change because the method is sound science in how the body reacts to challenge, but all the ways we “create new challenges” during our WALKS is why we have been around for decades. Love the question!
6) For those people who are out of shape or haven’t worked out in a while, how long does it typically take to see results?
INSTANTLY! Now how can I say that in all CAPS? How can that be true? It is true! The second that you put one foot in front of the other in a purposeful way with determination, a brisk pace, you start the process of releasing those “Endorphins” – we called it your “ARMOR” earlier. INSTANTLY you feel results , you know you are doing something GREAT for your healthy mind – body – soul! Then to also “see” and “measure” results…many people report that after just 3 or 4 “brisk” walks spread out over a week, they see their belly lose the puff, they see a leaner look, the body starts to take on a leaner shape. This is because conditioned muscle has beautiful shape to it, but de-conditioned muscle, like body fat, has no shape. It’s just distorting on the body. Everybody reading this that has not been on a regular routine of fitness walking in the past 6 months.
Take this challenge: 10 WALKs to a better body. Walk outdoors, OR on a treadmill, OR with our Walk at Home DVDs/Videos – Everyday for 10 days! WALK using one of these methods for a total of 15 minutes! You can break it up into (3) 5 minute sessions before or after every meal, or do it all at once. I PROMISE you results in just 10 “mini” WALKs in 10 Days!
(***Special Note- on any of the 10 Days, if you FEEL strong and want to walk longer, DO IT. That’s the real secret here: once you get moving, you don’t want to stop! It happens to millions of us that make Fitness Walking our SPORT for Life! I know it will happen to you too!)
7) How do you beat the boredom factor?
I take breaks from my normal routine, and I use variety. If my past few weeks have been all morning workouts, I try a walk after dinner. If my walks have been more traditional like an outdoor walk or on a treadmill, I do my Total Body Walks (Yes, I do my own DVDs, and in my kitchen! If you can picture ME telling ME, that’s ENOUGH of that move Leslie!!!!) The DVDs incorporate more muscle from upper body and core than traditional walks by the way! I also love to ride my bike, play speed badminton with my sons (really there’s a game called “speed badminton”). When we get a long volley going, up to 60 or 70 counts, I always start to laugh and then the birdie drops !!! I love keeping up with my adult children!
8) A lot of people think they have to get their heart rates super high to get a good cardio workout. Do you think your walking workouts can provide the same benefits to heart health as a high intensity run or a spinning class?
EXACTLY…too many still believe this. If their heart rates are not at 85, 90% of their maximum capabilities, they think it’s not a workout! I must confess I had years that I kept a high level of intensity in most of my weekly workouts, even knowing the science that proves I could calm it down and still get the results I was looking for. WALKING can be a WORKOUT. I agree that walking can be too passive; at low levels it doesn’t challenge the body to get stronger or at least maintain a level of strength. Now let me say this: a short gentle walk is much better than NO WALKING. A brisk walk is much much better to challenge the body, burn calories, strengthen heart & lungs, increase endurance, and a speed walk is SUPREME. You get BIG calorie burns, the circulatory system starts a whole host of amazing health benefits that impact blood pressure, blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, heart health, bone health, shall I go on? The list is endless. Well, this was FUN, TALKin’ about WALKin’ !!!!