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April 3, 2013

Pom Poms to Pavement: Dietitian Shares Tips for Avon Walkers

Food & Friends has been participating in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer since 2001. Each year we send dozens of people (including a drag queen named Ivanna BeatBreastCancer) to cheer on the walkers, provide a delicious lunch on Sunday, and hand out our home-made cookies along the route. Last year, a group of my coworkers and I spent the day clapping and encouraging walkers – this year, we are going to be on the receiving end.

Dietitian Brandy Love cheering on
walkers at last year's Avon Walk
As I pull on my t-shirt, warm-up jacket, and hoodie, I’m getting ready for battle. It’s me versus the asphalt. The weather is neither friend nor foe; it is motivation for me to move faster! Sure I could jump on the treadmill, but 8 miles on a hamster wheel might drive me a little batty. In less than a month, we will be walking 39 miles in the fight against breast cancer and I’ll be ready. If you would have told me in January I would walk from Northern Virginia to the Capital Building, I would have shaken my head in disbelief. Well, here I am a few weeks before the Avon Walk and I’ve logged more than 120 miles of training. As we get ready to make a difference in the lives of people fighting breast cancer, I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned in these last few weeks of training:
  1. Apps are where it’s at. Want to keep track of your mileage? There’s an app (actually hundreds) for that. I’ve used MapMyWalk, Fit Run, and several others to track my distance. These apps record your average speed, distance, and calories burned while walking. They email you a weekly summary of your progress, not to mention the option to share your workout summaries via Facebook and Twitter. Now that’s a surefire way to get a little friendly competition going amongst friends!
  2. There’s strength in numbers. Having a walking buddy makes it easier on those “I’d rather be on the couch” days. Meeting a co-worker along the trail motivated me to pick up the pace a bit just to see who could arrive first. I also use walking as a time to catch up with friends & family. Who knew strolling down memory lane with grandma would get me through my last 4 miles?
  3. Variety is the spice of life. Varying my walking routine is a great way to avoid getting bored or discouraged. Some days I venture into DC, other days I glide through Old Town and I’ve even circled around Arlington Cemetery. The key has been to find a way to stay engaged and motivated to train. There’s nothing like walking along the Potomac to clear your mind. Try it!
  4. Pack a snack. When I leave hungry, I stay hungry so I grab fruit, a cheese stick, or PB&J before heading out the door. For longer walks, I pack trail mix, nuts, or something small and easy-to-eat while walking.
  5. Water is your weapon. Drinking water fights dehydration, muscle fatigue, & sore joints. Did you know in 1 hour of exercise, your body can lose more than a quart of water? I have a hydration belt I find very useful on my longer walk days. For the days I feel like that will be too heavy or I’m not walking as far, I have a small hand held water bottle with an adjustable hand strap and thumbhole that keeps the mini 10 oz bottle in place without having to grip it. Whichever option works best, don’t head out without a little H20. 
It hasn't been easy, but training has definitely been worth it. The Avon Walk is right around the corner and I know we can do it! Come out and cheer us on May 4th-5th or, better yet, sign up to join the walk!

Brandy Love, RD, LDN is a Community Dietitian at Food & Friends. She received a Bachelor of Science in Food Science & Human Nutrition at the University of Hawaii and completed her dietetic training through the Mayo School of Health Sciences. In addition to counseling clients, Brandy teaches CHEW (Cooking Healthy to Eat & Win), a 2-hour cooking class for Food & Friends clients. 

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