Most of my 20’s flew by in a blur. Not the kind associated with too many frat parties, mind you! No, my free time was spent trying (fruitlessly) to outrun the fat that was slowly beginning to pad my hips and thighs. I suffered from the illusion that a sugar cookie (or 4) could easily be “burned off” if I added a mile to my daily run.
Feeling guilty about that extra slice of pizza? Nothing a few more minutes on the elliptical can’t fix. With a love of running
, and very little information on nutrition, I figured every bad food choice could be erased in a single sweat session. Good to go, or so I thought. So why were my jeans getting tighter and tighter by the mile? I did the sugar-to-treadmill shuffle until, by divine intervention, I met a trainer who saw my error and set me straight.
By then, I was full blown in my cardio habit, so my thinking didn’t change overnight. But I was over-trained, exhausted and not seeing results, so eventually I became willing to consider another way. So many women have fallen victim to the cardio myth, we could form a support group. We’ve all seen them (or BEEN them!), the unsuspecting gal tripling the time limit on her machine of choice in the hopes of achieving a tight, stripped physique. Day after day, she’s on the proverbial hamster wheel, working hard and getting nowhere.
Take heart, ladies! With a slight shift in perspective, you can kick this habit to the curb and start getting the results you deserve. It makes sense, mathematically speaking.
If weight loss is a simple matter of calories in versus calories out, then burning hundreds per workout is your fast track to slim, right? Wrong! Blame it on dated information or lack of understanding, but many well-meaning doctors and trainers are still prescribing an hour, or more in the “fat-burning zone
” as the best means of lasting fat loss.
Simply stated, this old school method is not only a waste of time, but in some cases, can also seriously delay progress. Our bodies are so smart, that when we do something repeatedly, we learn to do it with the least amount of energy (calories) possible. As we adapt, exercise that once felt like a death march is now a stroll in the park, as far as our bodies are concerned. We have 2 choices: keep amping up the mileage, or seriously shock our systems. More quality time with the treadmill only gave me MORE boredom, frustration, and flab, so I was ready to take drastic measures.
I learned over time to keep my cardio short, only 20-30 minutes, and super-intense. By focusing on intervals of maximum effort, alternated with quick periods of rest, you get a workout that keeps working for you long after you’ve left the gym. Studies show that H.I.I.T
cardio can keep your metabolism elevated for up to 48 hours. With so much extra time, I was able to pack on some muscle in the weight room. My body started changing, quickly, and my entire workout was finished in half the time of my former cardio days. You can turn any exercise into a H.I.I.T
workout, and there are no set rules. Play with different times of work/rest and mix and match your favorites.
Just go hard, keep it short and sweet, and in no time you will have kicked your cardio habit, and have the body to prove it.
Erin stays busy pursuing her own fitness goals, and helping to educate and inspire those she loves to live healthier lives. A hair stylist by trade, she manages a salon, and is chipping away at a degree, ultimately in dietetics and kinesiology. She lives in South Florida with her husband and a “pound puppy” named Pedro.