Working on My Fitness: An Interview with Wellness Guru Walter Lewis #SHRM18

Reprinted from SHRM’s blog

Every year leading up to SHRM’s annual conference, I get the daily digest emails and see threads and chats going back and forth. There’s the excited conference newbies wondering how to take it all in, people looking for deals on hotel rooms and professionals in certain states or industries organizing meetups. I understand their enthusiasm and appreciate the camaraderie these threads afford them. But there’s always been one group I don’t understand .. .the 5 a.m. runners. To that group, I ask: what are you guys thinking?

No, seriously. Tell me what you’re thinking. I’m so jealous. Philosophically, I support your right to run at the crack of no-one-should-be-awake-right-now o’clock, but I do not have that level of motivation. I need a good kick in the pants. That’s why I’m planning to head to the Smart Stage to see Walter Lewis, owner of Walter Lewis Fitness Solutions in Washington, D.C.

Lewis is a certified fitness trainer, speaker, author and corporate wellness specialist. He’ll be presenting about inexpensive wellness programs, leading a boot camp, hosting a 5K and leading a walk to kick off the SHRM Foundation Step Challenge.

From doing our interview, I can already tell he’s got motivation to spare. Here’s some of our chat.

What is your philosophy on workplace wellness? Why is it important? Why should employers care about it?

“Creating an on-site wellness program is important because employees spend so much time at the office,” Lewis says. Many chronic diseases are preventable. Employers should care because wellness plans can increase employees’ energy and productivity, reduce stress, lower turnover and boost morale. All of this can help the organization’s bottom line.

What trends are you seeing in wellness plans for 2018?

Companies are looking for more holistic programs that incorporate nutrition, fitness and mental health.

What are a couple of low-cost wellness options for employers that will generate a positive outcome?

There are many low-cost wellness options that will generate a positive outcome, Lewis says. “All you need is a motivated employee to lead the way. Here are some options.”

  • Walking challenges or running groups – If you work in a traditional office environment, it’s likely your employees spend almost the entire day seated in their chairs. A company walking challenge or running group is a simple and easy way to get your team out of their seats and engaging in physical activity, depending on their fitness level. Also, this is a low-cost initiative that requires little oversight, approval, or management, Lewis says.
  • Meditation Room – Work can be stressful. Providing any area to meditate, as well as some guidance on how to do so, can have a positive impact on employees.
  • Virtual Training – This is a very low-cost way to motivate employees and keep them inspired. In one course of the virtual training program I offer to SHRM members, four employees successfully lost a combined total of 60 pounds within a six week period.

What are some exercises that someone can do in their office or cubicle that will instantly get blood flowing and rejuvenate them in that post-lunch slump?

Get up and take a quick one-minute walk around the office, or a quick walk up and down a set of stairs.

Or you can stand up and do chair squats. Here’s how:

  • Stand in front of a chair with your feet hip-width apart. Keep your knees over your feet.

  • Slowly lower your glutes toward the chair without actually sitting down. Be sure to tighten your abdominals to help support your back.

  • Keep your knees over your ankles and place your weight on your heels throughout the full range of motion. Placing your arms out in front of you may help your balance.

  • Straighten your body upright and repeat.

Another good stretch that’s great for any busy professional is the carpal tunnel reliever. Here’s how to do it:

  • Stand at your desk with your arm extended downward and the back of your hand on your desk.

  • Apply light pressure for 15 seconds on each arm.

Are you excited to be heading to Chicago? Is there a cheat food you’ll be having? Maybe some deep dish pizza, Garrett’s popcorn or a Chicago-style hot dog?

I’m very excited to be heading to Chicago and I might actually include a cheat meal and indulge in some of Chicago’s deep dish pizza!

Kalomira talks about her Weightloss in Greeces People Magazine

Greece’s sweetheart and European recording artist is on the cover of People Greece talking about her new single “mommy loves you”, her weightloss, feeling more fit than ever and her family life in the States.

By Kalomira

I lost weight and got tighter working out with Walter 3 days a week.  He does a variety of exercises that target the areas that I wanted to really work on like thighs, butt and arms. He has also spent a lot of time teaching me the proper way to eat! This has been a game changer for me. I used his app for the first six months religiously which was a great help too. Now I feel confident that I have gained experience where I am very mindful of what I eat. (This is a first time for me and a big deal because I LOVE food.) I have three kids so it took a lot of hard work and dedication to really get it all tight again. I’m thankful for Walter for helping me achieve this.

Exercising Is My Top Priority

By Rose Jones

How exciting to be a “success” story! While losing weight and getting fit has been a goal most of my life, it was one I could never seem to reach – until I met Walter. He has taught me (and my fellow warriors) that you need both healthy eating habits and a good fitness workout to achieve that goal.

While I would lose weight periodically, I never lost a lot and I could never find that right mix of eating right and exercising right. Walter changed that. When I started with the Warrior Weight Loss program – I was psyched – really motivated to stick with it. After the first class, when I crawled out of the gym, I was dreading the next class and my motivation plummeted.  But after the 4th or 5th class, I started to actually look forward to going – to seeing my friends and actually working out. Crazy right? Every class was different – some days we used weights, some days we did cardio – and not your average cardio – the Walter cardio – stairs – sprints.

My motivation took off. Why? I saw results. I lost weight – maybe 10 pounds at first – and the weight I lost stayed off. Then another 10 pounds and that 10 pounds stayed off, and I just kept going. What was really inspiring was losing inches – all over! And my clothes fit better, I FELT better.  I got better at exercising. That may sound weird but it’s true. I got better at pushing myself. I got better at trying new machines. I surrounded myself with people that encouraged my goals. Instead of meeting for lunch, me and my friends meet to walk. Me and my running partner share different races with each other and encourage longer runs. My boss and I share different exercises that we think would help each other. I even text long distance with my niece and we share different ideas on meal prep and protein recipes. It’s all about developing your life around being healthy. It created for me a sense of well-being.

One of the biggest lifestyle changes I have made is I have made working out one of my top priorities. Not only does it help with stress, it reminds me to make better choices when I ‘m eating. When I work out, I am more apt to stick with healthier choices.  Kids, full time job, husband – stress is a given. So now I turn to the gym to reduce that stress and help keep me feeling good about myself.

Being part of the group fitness is huge! Walter is very inclusive with us in the group so it’s a tremendous support – we encourage each other – we truly become aware of each other’s accomplishments and we cheer each other on. I love that!

One of the things I am most proud about is what I can do now that I couldn’t before. When I first started, I could barely do a sit up. Now I can crank them out like crazy. I went from using 5 pound weights to 10-15 pound weights. Probably the accomplishment that has most affected my life is out of nowhere came a love for running! I remember the night I couldn’t finish a ½ mile but Walter showed me how to stick with it and get faster and run longer. Last November I finished my first 5K and ran the entire course. Then I did another, and another and now I try to do at least 1 a month. Me and a fellow warrior have become running partners and we trained together to run our first trail run – a 10K. Yes! – That’s over 6 miles! My first ½ marathon is coming up in May. Never did I think when I started last year that running a marathon would be a goal I set for myself let alone accomplish.

I still have goals and I always will but now, with Walter and my fellow warriors, I can see my achieving them and I look forward to it!

Personal Training, Accountability, and Healthy Routine Help Me Transform

By Deanna Furman

Since training with Walter over the past 10 weeks, I have lost 15 pounds and over 5 inches from my waist line. My BMI is actually normal now. I have more energy and handle stress a lot better. And I’m still planning on losing more!

Prior to training with Walter, I was completely sedentary in front of a computer for 10+ hours a day. I ate in between work calls during the day, and also late at night.  I ate whatever easy meal I could think of for the family (burgers, pizza, pasta, etc.).  Over the past 10 weeks, my diet has completely changed. I have been held accountable by logging in meals, counting calories, weighing portions, meal prepping, cutting back on the alcohol, and making healthy choices without processed foods.  Once in awhile I cheat a little, sure.  But it’s nothing in comparison to my prior dietary habits.

I stay consistent with my workouts by training with Walter 3 times per week.  We have a schedule, and it’s a commitment that is part of my week. Personal training has helped hold me accountable for my diet and for a healthy routine. It’s not always easy, but it is worth it because I’m doing something for myself so that I can lead a healthier and happier lifestyle. I’m not getting any younger, and the thought of developing health issues scares me.

I have been yo-yo dieting and struggling with my weight and stress since my son was born. This year, I made the decision to do something about it.  To actually get in shape.  But I felt that without having someone to personally train me, that I would be lost not knowing any routines, proper form, and/ or not following thru with a diet and exercise plan.  

If someone would have asked me last year, or anytime before, I never ever had considered hiring a personal trainer. I thought it would be too expensive, and that I wouldn’t have the time. But if you think about it, those were really just excuses.  The reality is, if you cut eating out all the time at restaurants and getting fast food and not making your meals by planning them every day, then you will have that much money every month to hire a personal trainer or to join a gym and do virtual training with Walter. Then there’s the expense of having to buy new clothes, if you keep growing out of the ones you have.  And as far as having the time is concerned, you have to make it. You have to make yourself a priority because this is your health and well being. 

Thanks for training me Walter!  I look forward to Q2 2018!

No Days Off Results In 27 Pounds Lost In Two Months

by Andres Fuentes

I started working with Walter through a recommendation by my sister-in-law. She had been working with him for a few months in his bootcamps, so I thought I’d give it a try. When I saw on his website that he also offered a virtual training and coaching option, which included access to bootcamps, I decided to enroll.

I started my journey on January 2, with the expectation of losing around 20 lbs in the four months I had signed up to work with him. I remember getting our first week assignment… 40 min of cardio for three days. My first reaction, “the most I’ve ever done in a single workout was 25 min, and he expects 15 min more? And consistently?” I did it the first day, and it wasn’t too bad. I really didn’t want to do it the second day, but through his app, I saw my fellow warriors committing, and it gave me the motivation to do it again. That was my first takeaway from working with Walter. He fosters a sense of community for his warriors, even though we’re dispersed across the area.

The first week of working out was tough, but I started seeing results right away, four pounds the first week. At the bootcamp I told Walter the great news, and like any great coach, he congratulated me but also challenged me to keep going. To capitalize on this small win to really get exponential results. So I kept on my exercise journey. In our weekly group meetings, Walter exposed us to nutritionists, dieticians, and psychologists to help us understand what beyond exercise we needed to consider as we worked towards a healthier lifestyle. In our 1-on-1s, we discuss the topics and he would help me adjust my food choices. That is the second takeaway of working with Walter, that even though he is working with numerous clients, he still takes time to focus on your individual progression.

Even though I started this journey two months ago with the expectation of losing 20 pounds, I’ve already lost 27 pounds, and will hopefully reach my long term goal of losing 60 pounds total in the next the three months. I wouldn’t have been able to achieve such success or keep the motivation to keep going at my pace without Walter’s guidance or support. I knew that losing weight meant looking and feeling better, but there are other benefits that I hadn’t thought about. I travel for work, and I’ve noticed that I fit in those airplane seats so much easier!

For those that are thinking of starting their own personal journeys, I have a few pieces of advice that have helped me in my journey:

If you’re trying to really push yourself in a workout, chunk the extra amount of time you want to workout. For example, I’ll sometimes tell myself, just one minute more over and over again if I’m trying to do a long workout but losing steam or motivation.

  • Have realistic short term weight loss goals and stretch goals, but work towards the stretch goals. You’ll push yourself a little harder and even if you don’t meet your stretch goal, you can still have success.
  • When you go out to eat have a game plan. Look at the menu beforehand to see what’s available to eat and adjust your other meals before and after in case it’s heavier than you’d like, or if it’s saltier than you’d like.
  • Even though you have rest days, that doesn’t mean do absolutely nothing. I still do at least a 30 min workout on my rest days just so I can feel like I’m keeping my momentum.
  • If you do cardio on a machine (e.g. I do my cardio on an elliptical), invest in a show that you can watch while working out. I’ve found that funny or light hearted shows are great to workout to. If I’m in a good mood when I workout, I associate that activity with my good mood. It also helps you mentally preparing for your workout (e.g. saying you’re going to work out for 45 min vs. saying you’re going to workout and watch one episode of a 45 min show). There have been times where I’ve kept going with my workout because the show wasn’t done.
  • My biggest struggle is meal planning. It’s especially hard if you’re really the only one dieting. What I’ve found helps is building your meals to ensure proteins, veggies, and good carbs are included. It really comes in handy when you’re not in the mood to meal prep, but can easily make a hearty salad with hard boiled eggs, avocado, blueberries and spring mix.