04/04/2012 11:04 am ET Updated Jun 04, 2012

Billion Calorie Challenge: The UnDiet Diet

Do you like challenges? If you're like most of my patients, the idea of a big insurmountable challenge is overwhelming. The idea of losing 20 or 30 pounds is so daunting, that many people give up before starting and retreat into a nice bowl of ice cream.

Mention a billion calorie challenge, and it could sound like a recipe for disaster, and yet, if we take it one walk at a time, and multiply it by thousands of people, then suddenly, it's not as hard as you think.

Do you think that it's possible to improve your health without counting calories or depriving yourself completely of the foods you like? If you're like me, you hate diets, yet want to trim down and get to a healthy weight, but don't want to go on a Survivor-inspired diet of coconuts and rice with a few tiny sand crabs thrown in. What's the catch?

It's not the latest trend or fad, it's actually a method that's worked for centuries and has been proven in study after study to help prevent heart disease and diabetes. How can we possibly lose weight and have healthier hearts without dieting? The answer may surprise you. It's not a cleanse or supplement or even something just discovered in the Amazon rainforest.

The answer is probably propped up right now within easy view. It's your own two legs! If you can walk, you can lose weight and get your heart in better shape. All you need is 30 minutes a day. And now, the American Heart Association is making it easier than ever for you to get out and get Walking!

I just heard about their Billion Calorie Count Up. The goal is to get all us up and walking so that we can collectively burn a Billion Calories and shed weight to get our hearts in better shape. You can find a Heart Walk in your area, get tips for getting started and sign up to keep track of your walking.

Here's some fast facts from the American Heart Association:
  • Walking is the single most effective form of exercise to achieve heart health.
  • As little as 30 minutes of walking or moderate physical activity helps reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Walking improves circulation, reduces stress and anxiety, increases optimism, improves muscle tone and strength.
  • Walking lowers cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure
  • Walking for an hour each day can cut the genetic risk of obesity in half
Many Americans think that they are in ideal cardiovascular health, but actually, fewer than 1 percent actually meet the American Heart Association's criteria.[1]

If you have dog -- and even if you don't -- it's time to get out and get walking. Grab a friend or make a date and get out there, so that we can all burn 150 to 300 calories every day. When you multiply that by thousands of people walking several times a week, then it's absolutely a goal we can reach. Burning at least a billion calories means healthier bodies and healthier hearts.


[1] "American Heart Association Cardiovascular Health Consumer Survey." American Heart Association. November 2009.

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