Drop a dress size without dieting 

Use this 12-month plan and walk your way to fitness.

This walking plan leads to slow, steady weight loss of 10 pounds or more over one year and is perfect for beginners. Just be careful not to eat more than usual.

Get ready to get in the best shape of your life in just one year! This plan builds slowly: it's a step-by-step guide for couch potatoes to get started and gain the strength to burn serious calories. You'll start by walking off about 100 calories. Halfway through (by month six), you'll blast about 350 calories per walk. By the end of the year, you could be burning 440 calories per workout!

Months 1 to 3
Prepare your body
Goal: Gradually build up your routine to walking six days per week for 30 minutes per day at a moderate pace.

Month 1: Walk three days a week for 10 minutes. Each week, add one 10-minute walk so that by week four you're walking six days a week for 10 minutes.

Month 2: Add five minutes to several walks each week. Begin by walking for 10 minutes three days a week and for 15 minutes three days a week. By week eight, walk three days for 10 to 20 minutes and three days for 30 minutes.

Month 3: Keep adding five minutes to walks. By week 12 you should be walking six days per week for 30 minutes.

Months 4 to 6
Build endurance
Goal: Build to 60 minutes per day six days per week. Adjust your pace to how you feel.

Month 4: Walk three days per week for 40 minutes and three days per week for 30 minutes. When you feel like you're strong enough, add 10 minutes to each walk.

 Month 5: Increase your walk time to 60 minutes, three days per week, and 50 minutes, 3 days per week.

 Month 6: Walk six days per week for 60 minutes, and try to go at a moderate pace.

Months 7 to 9
Boost your metabolism

Goal: Continue walking for 60 minutes, six days per week, and add hills to build muscle and tone your lower body.

Three days a week, continue your regular walking routine; go for 60 minutes at a moderate pace. (It's okay to slow down a little if you feel sore.)

Three days a week, walk a hilly route briskly (fast enough so that you find it hard to talk) or find a flight of stairs and aim to climb it five times during your walk. If you walk on a treadmill, try setting the incline to 4 percent (adjust this up or down as needed.)

Alternate your hill walks with your regular walks to avoid injury.

Months 10 to 12
Burn even more calories
Goal: Continue walking for 60 minutes six days per week, but add speed bursts to work your body even harder.

Two days per week, continue your regular walking routine (60 minutes at a moderate pace).

Two days per week, walk for 60 minutes, alternating four minutes at your regular pace with two-minute, all-out speed bursts at your fastest pace.

Two days per week, walk for 60 minutes at a slower-than-usual recovery pace.

Alternate workouts--don't do the same pace two days in a row.

Stay motivated: To maintain your weight-loss (or to lose more) keep walking at least 60 minutes daily and work speed bursts and hills into alternating workouts.