I spent years doing excessive cardio.
5 am wake up calls to do fasted cardio before work.
Hour long elliptical sessions after work.
All because I thought that is what I needed to do.
What I thought I needed to do to be lean.
What I thought I needed to do to burn off the extra food I ate or when the scale told me I was “bad.”
Bad day, do more cardio. Good day, do more cardio.
I was doing up to 3 hours of cardio IN ONE DAY because I was so desperately trying to get to that *place.*
That place I *thought* where I would become happy. I thought that once I got to that size, that number, all would be right. I thought “if I just get there, I can finally love my body.”
As you probably know, nothing even close to that happened.
What happened was I got stuck in a viscious cycle of doing more. I continued to do more and eat less. Until after dinner when I ate #allthefood.
This continued until my body started to reject. My hormones were a mess. I was tired (all day long), I was puffy, I was hungry and hangry.
And I was still doing cardio. Because that is all I knew.
As you can imagine I was hesitant to lift weights. I mean anything over 8 lbs LOL because “what if I got bulky?” I also wanted to sweat and I was under the assumption that a weight workout was not really a “good” workout.
I thought I needed cardio. All I knew was cardio.
So I started lifting. I started lifting heavier. I slowly replaced my excessive cardio with weights. I was so scared but I knew I had nothing to lose at this point. What I was doing was not working.
And Consistent Strength Training
I found a new love for fitness. I started using dumbbells and barbells and kettlebells. I started hitting PR’s and started to appreciate my body for its strength. Plus, the sweat and burn are a little addicting 🙂
My workouts became about strength.
They became about capable and for the first time in a many years, fitness was fun again. It was no longer a way to burn calories or punishing myself for last night’s binge.
A few other things happened when I traded the cardio for weights.
- My puffy, hot mess look went away.
Without getting all “sciency” on you, my hormones that were “all over the place” became happy hormones. By cutting the excessive cardio, my cortisol levels went down and by lifting heavy weights I was releasing HGH, testosterone and using the insulin to build lean muscle. Lean muscle, happy metabolism, happy hormones.
I quickly realized that the exercise I was doing was actually doing more harm than good. Cardio is not “bad” but for fat loss, hormonal fat loss, weights are key.
- I started to look fit.
So I was fit (as in I could run a 15K) before but honestly I didn’t look very fit. I was holding onto weight, I didn’t have much muscle definition and I could lose weight but not get tighter.
With weights, my entire body composition has changed. I am not sure what I weigh but I don’t really care because I like the shape of my body. My body actually has a shape lol and muscle definition. In a nutshell, I look like I lift.
- I got healthier.
By healthier I mean, I was no longer exhausted and sick. In the cardio days, I was sick all the time because 3 hours of cardio will run you down. Top that off with not the right foods and that is a recipe for a disaster. With weights, I was no longer injured. I was sore which I like, but my body actually felt good. I have had every running injury in the book (from overuse) so it felt really good to have my body function without a brace or a wrap lol.
And more? My resting heart rate dropped, my blood pressure got lower and I started to sleep. I realized that healthy is far more important that pushing through a race and riding a spin bike for 2 hours feeling like shit.
- Self confidence baby.
There is nothing that will make you feel like a badass than some heavy weights. Strength equals self sufficiency for a woman. There is nothing more satisfying that being trained for life. Carrying my kids, lifting bags of dog food, carrying suitcases. You name it, I can do it. Because muscles 🙂
- I started to enjoy my runs AND I got faster from the weights.
Every runner should lift weights. Gone are the days where running more means a better runner.
I am a runner through and through. I have run hundreds of races of all distances but once I started running to lose weight, I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. Doing too many runs with numerous injuries in a constant state of exhaustion left me miserable. I kept telling myself to “push through” but when it’s not fun, it’s not fun.
I was I getting slower from doing more. I am no longer doing double runs or crazy long runs but I am enjoying the hell out of some 5K’s, crushing some of my times and using my upper body muscles to push that double stroller….because weights.
- I got a life.
When I traded in my 3 hour gym sessions for 45 minutes of weights I wasn’t quite sure what to do with my free time. I can’t imagine pedaling away on a cardio machine right now with little kids. Talk about time I don’t have. AND not even getting results!?
The goal was to find a place where fitness enhanced my life. Spending too much time doing it takes away from other areas of my life. So weights are essentially the “best bang for my buck” especially because workouts happen normally and I have limited time. It’s part of my life rather than revolving my life around the gym. Big difference.
For me, strength training wins. I still do short sessions of intervals or enjoy a crossfit style workout but for me, the days of steady state hour long cardio sessions are over.
As a mom I need fitness in my life. Not only for myself and the mental clarity a workout provides but because being fit makes me better. I have more patience, I can do more with my kids and enjoy life even more because I am strong.
Fitness is something we all do because our bodies need to be moved to be healthy. To be our best. Healthy is far more important right now.
It’s not about the calories, the steps, the amount of food we can eat because we “earned it,” it’s about living a healthy lifestyle complete with exercise.
I know as a mom, it starts with me. It starts with me showing my kids that exercise is fun. It starts with me showing my kids that exercise doesn’t take hours and you most importantly that being strong is vital. Plus, being a strong woman is pretty cool 🙂
If this sounds familiar and you feel like you are spinning your wheels with cardio, grab a copy of my new exercise handbook for moms, FitBeyondBaby at home with at home strength workouts. If you want to lift weights but don’t have a gym or want to get started with 20 minute workouts grab your copy here and be on your way to happy hormones, lean muscle, a revved metabolism and tons of self confidence. Plus, you will sweat more than you ever thought possible with a set of dumbbells.