Cardio Blues
 (this post previously appeared on my blog “Neckbones 2 Nectarines)

CARDIO!!! CARDIO!!! CARDIO!!!! You hear it all of the time.  You NEED cardio to lose weight.  Then you get on the treadmill for an hour, five times a week and then realize, after a month, you haven’t lost ONE pound. And the discouragement sets in big time.  Truth is, you are just on the machine because you heard you are supposed to be on it.  You don’t know much about it, only that it should be moving and you should be too.  You think it may be wise to increase to two hours since you read in a magazine that someone training for a fitness competition did so and she looked pretty good.  You start to think about what type of commitment that is going to take but you really want to lose this weight for your cruise.  Your knees are hurting.  Ugh, they say there is a 30 minute limit for cardio equipment and you aren’t about to go outside. WHAT NEXT?!?!?!?!?!

Cardio is more specific than you think.  It’s not the “time” that counts more so than the quality.  And the EFFORT.

If you are on a treadmill at a 2.0 speed, slow enough to have a full-fledged conversation on your cell phone, sing the song that’s playing in the gym full out and not be drenched in sweat when you are done then you need to upgrade what it is that you are doing.  You should feel like you have put in WORK!!  While “something” is always better than “nothing”, if you want to “see” change then you have to make some type of change.  Consider changing your incline.  Or your speed.  Or changing machines all together.  At the gym where I work, we have ellipticals (easy on people who have knee problems), stationary and upright bikes, stair steppers and a stair climber, arc trainers, rowing machines and an indoor track.  We also have several stairwells which my clients have come to affectionately love.  🙂  You want to find yourself pushing to finish but not about to pass out.  Use the “talk sing” test as your gauge.  If you can sing, you aren’t working hard enough,.  If you cannot talk, your intensity is too high.

As for people who do not like machines at all or feel like they need the encouragement of others, there is always the group fitness option.  The trick with group fitness is that sometimes people feel as if it is the responsibility of the group to make sure they get a workout.  It is STILL your responsibility.  As a Zumba instructor specifically, people come to class and confuse having a good time with working out.  I encourage my participants to enjoy themselves but NEVER at the expense of not breaking a sweat.  At the end of the day, you are the one facing your scale.  If you feel like the environment is too relaxed for you to push, then choose another option.  Or choose a set of friends who will not let you off the hook.  Or choose to have a different attitude because sometimes it’s just your decision NOT to work hard that’s keeping you from results.

And cardio does NOT have to be done at the gym.  Jumping rope at home, walking your neighborhood, playing sports or just playing with your kids (longer than five minutes, of course) can get your heart rate up.  There are plenty of DVD’s on the market to challenge you.  I find that Amazon.com has the best deals as I have bought some for as little as .01.  You can also rent some from the public library.

In order for cardio to work, you need it to be consistent and challenging.  You also need healthy eating habits to go along with it.  You CANNOT outrun poor eating habits.  Find your balance between those and you can move further along in your journey to achieving your weight loss goals!

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