Last year, I trained for seven months to complete a half marathon. The goal I announced to friends and family was to be able to run the 13.1 miles, as I had turned 36 years old – it was a “bucket list” item. My true goal was to lose 15 pounds and trim down my gut. As the day approached and I crossed the finish line of the much-anticipated and mucho-painful half marathon, my usual 145-lb body weighed ….wait for it…. 148. That’s right. I GAINED 3 pounds.
So, what happened? Was I not running at least 5 – 6 days a week? Yes, and my son no longer recognized me unless I was in sweat-stained tank tops and shorts. Was I hiding from my husband in a closet cramming Thin Mintstm down my throat? Not this time…the past is another story…but NOT this time!
The truth of the matter is “what happened” happens to us all: cardio alone does NOT effectively help us lose weight. And, it took me nearly a year to discover these truths:
1) Cardio would not help tone and tighten my body like resistance training.
2) I now spend LESS time per week working out. I participate in a combined resistance and cardio workout lasting approximately 50 minutes 2-3 times a week in comparison to the more than 6 weekly hours I dedicated to training for the half marathon.
3) By also improving my overall nutrition with more fiber through veggies and fruits in my diet, combined with interval resistance/cardio training – I have shed significant belly fat and now weigh…wait for it…129 lbs – in 3 months!
If you are looking to achieve better overall health and get the added benefits of a stronger, leaner frame, you MUST combine resistance training and cardio. Here are some quick facts about cardio that may help you believe:
1) One research study found that when men and women did 6 hours of
cardio every week for one year, they only lost 6 pounds.1
2) When some people start a cardio program, they end up eating
more, and may even gain weight because of this.2
3) Even scientists admit that cardio does not burn as much fat as
you would expect based on the number of calories burned in a workout.3
4) And finally, head-to-head research has shown that interval
training works better than steady cardio for fat loss – even when
diet is not changed.4
That last fact brings up the excellent point that we are all ultimately trying to burn fat, not simply calories. You can burn calories and still jiggle all the way home because of three trains of thought:
Muscle Burns Fat
The more lean muscle mass you have, the less fat you will have, because muscle actually burns fat. Muscle helps the body burn calories for hours after a workout.
Muscle Reshapes The Body
You can absolutely drop significant weight through diet and a nightly jog through your neighborhood, but when you look in the mirror, things may still jiggle and you still carry weight in the same spots you always did. The best way to change this is to shape your body through building muscle. This will tighten, firm, tone, and target those trouble spots that you just can’t seem to get rid of.5
Cardio as a “Stressor”
Excess fat is viewed as extra calories stored as fat. So, you may think in order to get rid of it, I need to burn it off by moving my body for long periods of time. But when we put our bodies through a long and consistent “stressor” (running, elliptical, biking, swimming), our body responds by releasing adrenaline. In response to this, your adrenal glands release a number of hormones, one of which is cortisol, a steroid hormone. Our body then experiences a “fight or flight” response and tries to “save” itself by storing body fat. Your body thinks you’re running away from something and needs to go into survival mode. Yes, by doing cardio, you are telling your body to store fat. Even if we already knew that stress contributes to weight gain, you now need to think of chronic cardio as stress.6
All of this information may be boggling your perception of what you’ve thought about exercise from a lifetime of learning. Now it’s time to relearn the fastest and most effective way to get the healthy, strong body you’ve always wanted but never properly knew how to attain.
That all being said, DAC Fitness offers you, our membership, the $49 30-Day Personal Training Experience (insert link: http://daclife.com/30-Day-personal-training-experience) so you can start relearning NOW. Think about how YOU can achieve results that you’ve been fighting for years to have in just MONTHS!!
1) Obesity 15:1496-1512, 2007. Exercise Effect on Weight and Body Fat
in Men and Women. Anne McTiernan*, et al.
2) International Journal of Obesity 32: 177-184, 2008
3) Br J Sports Med. 2009 Sep 29
4) Int J Obes 2008 Apr;32(4):684-91
5) DiCenso, Dr. Richard. “Why Cardio Alone Does Not Work to Burn Fat and Lose Weight,” ShapeFit <http://www.shapefit.com/why-cardio-alone-does-not-work.html>.
6) “Long Term Effects of Exercise.” Teach PE, <http://www.teachpe.com/anatomy/long_term_effects.php>.