After I had my second daughter, I joined a running club because I just knew that running was the answer to my stagnant weight loss. I met with my group three times a week. We ran 5 miles at a time. At first, I struggled. I walked more than I ran. But after a few weeks, I ran more than I walked and felt comfortable doing it. I felt my stamina improve and I felt so accomplished. I was doing something good for myself and sticking to it. Go me!
Flash forward about three months, and I started to get frustrated. Although I could run the full five miles without stopping to walk, I wasn’t losing much weight. I had lost about five pounds. My clothes fit the same and I wasn’t noticing any changes in my body. Add to that the fact that I felt exhausted throughout the day and I was hungry all the time. Despite eating well (protein, fruits, veggies, and some starches and fats), I was stuck, and feeling defeated. How could that be?
I decided to start looking into some weight training.
I found a Hormonal Fat Loss Coach that was certified through Metabolic Effect (the company I eventually earned my nutrition certification and my initial personal/group training through). She wrote customized workouts that I could do at home. Some of the workouts were as little as 12 minutes long. My plan called for working out four days a week for an average of 15 minutes. I was to use some weights and train in intervals. I didn’t have much faith, because what the hell is 12 minutes going to do?
Well…… within a month, I noticed a difference in my body. I felt stronger. My clothes were starting to fit differently and even more importantly, my cravings had dissipated and my energy increased. Within six months, I had lost 40 pounds and noticed a leanness to my body that I had never had before. That’s when I knew I wanted to be certified, so I could learn everything I needed to learn to be able to do this for the rest of my life, and help as many people as I could without leaving them feeling like exercise was a burden.
The key? Cortisol.
See cortisol gets a bad rep for being a fat storing or stress hormone in our bodies. And it is, but when paired well with insulin production, we suddenly get a recipe for fat burning instead. The type of exercise we do, determines how cortisol is used and produced in our body. Here’s the difference…. When I was running five miles at a time, I was producing a large amount of cortisol. My body essentially was feeling stressed. Stress for many people triggers fat storage. That increased cortisol level also is responsible for those cravings I was having and my lack of energy.
The fix? Weight based interval training. Lifting weights (or even using body weight) in intervals allows your body to increase its cortisol level (during the intense parts of your workout) and then decrease it (during the rest periods of the workout), which actually allows insulin to rise slowly and neutralize the cortisol level, creating a fat burning environment. Couple that with the lean muscle weight training creates for your body, and you on the best track to meeting your goals!
Bottom line, if you’re looking to lean out, tone up, and burn fat, the weight-based interval training is an amazing option that can get you results in as little as 15 minutes a day. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t run. Running is great for heart health and cardio endurance. But it shouldn’t be your only form of exercise. My suggestion? Aim for:
- Three days of high intensity weight-based workouts
- Optional: one day of traditional cardio (running, cycling, Zumba, etc.)
- Slow walks (about ½ hr.) on any day possible
I suggest downloading an interval timer app. They are available on most smart phones.
A sample workout for fat loss would look like this:
- Lunge/overhead press
- Front/side raise
- Jumping jacks
- Dumbbell Row
35 seconds work, 15 seconds rest between exercises, repeat 4 times, total: 16:40
It’s been six years of working out in this way for me.
I exercise about four days a week and try to get in a short walk (about ½ hour) on most days. I feel strong, energized, and most of all, in control. I’m not dieting. I’m not killing myself with hours of exercise. I enjoy my workouts and can get them done in 25 minutes or less.
Do I regret running five miles a day? No. Will I try that again? Hell no! I don’t love running. I can’t force myself to. And my body doesn’t respond to running in the way I want it to. So there’s that.
Lifting weights, working out in intervals, training less and for shorter durations is a perfect combination to get the lean, toned look you’re after. I traded in my running shoes for some weight lifting gloves, and I’m never looking back 😊.
Keep it burnin',