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Cardio: Love It? Hate It? Do It!

Amber DeLeal June 18, 2014
Cardio - Love it or hate it

Running, running, running. Is anyone else starting to feel nauseous? Or is it just me?

Okay. I get that not everyone is repulsed at the thought of running. For most people, they either love it or they hate it.

If you’re like me, you hate it. Well, at least I used to hate it. Even before I packed on the pounds and became overweight I have almost always dreaded the mere thought of stepping on the treadmill.

Still, I made myself do it, and I always felt good afterwards. But every time it came to my next cardio session I would try to figure out what else I had to do that was more important.

Like the laundry. Yes, laundry. I have SO much laundry to do and it will never get done if I spend that valuable time at the gym on that dreaded treadmill.

Or family time. Nothing is more important than spending time with my kids, right? I need to spend as much time with my family as I can now while they’re still young – and they still adore me. We won’t always have these precious moments together and I’d be wasting it away by spending 30 minutes cardio-ing it up on the treadmill.

While I do believe that taking care of household chores and spending quality time with family are important, these things are simply excuses I would fall back on when it came time to get in my cardio. Don’t judge me, because I know you have excuses of your own that keep you from making your fitness a priority, too.

We all have them. It’s how we deal with them that makes the difference.

Overcoming Excuses and Insecurities

At times my inner struggle would feel infantile, like I was stomping my feet and flailing my arms about in a way that was sure to get the attention of someone who would tell me I should just skip the gym. And it used to be even worse…

I was insecure about EVERYTHING when it came to going to the gym.

I would worry incessantly about my appearance and what clothes I’d be wearing. Yes, I know now how stupid this is. I’m just being honest here.

I would ponder how I probably look like a complete idiot when I run. I found myself thinking my goals were unattainable anyway and that I wouldn’t hit them no matter how hard I worked at achieving them.

Sometimes I still feel those insecurities creep back in, but I quickly make the decision to just not care, because cardio is critical when you have fat to shed. And no insecurity can trump my desire to look and feel my best.

After overcoming my insecurities, and ending the excuses, the results kept coming until I dropped more than 60 pounds of fat and got back those sexy abs I missed oh so much.

I now have people say things to me like, “Look at your abs!”

Or, “Can I have your abs?”

And the answer is, YES! You can have my abs. But you will have to do what it takes to get them.

The two things that turned my flab to fab (yes, I just said that 🙂 ) are nutrition and cardio. I will address the topic of nutrition in the future. For now, I am going to keep the focus on cardio.

Changing Up Your Cardio Routine

Cardio - Jumping Rope

So, you’re running on the treadmill and you think to yourself, “Yeah! I got this! Half a mile down, 2.5 more to go! I can do this!”

Yet, somehow, the more you tell yourself this, the more you find your mind wandering.

By the 1.5 mile mark you find yourself watching Oprah on the gym television hanging over your head, which is a pretty sad place to be.

And then your legs start to get tired and a song you don’t even like comes through your ear buds when you’re all out of skips on Pandora.

I personally like to run now, as I’ll explain in just a moment. However, I admit I have my share of days that as soon as I start the treadmill, I’m already thinking of an excuse not to keep going.

Of course, in the back of my mind I always know there’s the bike, jump rope, Stair Master, elliptical, and how ever many other options at my disposal. But running is the best, right?

Well, not if it makes you so bored that jabbing a dull pencil into your eye sounds like fun. Luckily, I’ve learned that there are many great cardio options.

I even found that just a slight change in what I was doing on the treadmill made a huge difference.

For the longest time, I had always done a jog or brisk walk for my cardio. When I decided to kick my fat loss goals into gear that same old routine just wasn’t cutting it for me. It took too long, I was bored with it and I wasn’t getting the results as fast as I wanted.

All of that changed when I read Craig’s article about why sprinting is the ultimate form of cardio. What Craig wrote made perfect sense, so  I decided to give it a try.

What I thought was going to end in an epic fail was actually the complete opposite. Sprinting had me hooked and I have never turned back!

Thanks to sprinting I reached my weight loss goal and now finish my cardio 15 minutes faster than when I jogged! That’s 15 extra minutes I can now use to do laundry or – even better – hang out with my man or my kids.

I still switch things up, though. And I don’t sprint every day. On days when my legs are just too sore from my workout the day before I like to walk on the treadmill at a full incline and a speed of around 3.5 for 15 to 30 minutes.

I know, I know. It doesn’t seem like walking would be a great cardio workout. But believe me, it does the trick!

After 10 minutes my heart’s pumping, I’m working up a good sweat and making my body fat beg for mercy. Just don’t forget that incline!

Let’s talk about other types of cardio that don’t have to be done on a treadmill for a moment…

Other Sources of Cardio

There are SO many different cardio workout options and I’ve already alluded to several above. Having more options is GREAT for anyone who’s like me and gets tired of doing the same thing every day. So here are a few alternatives to the treadmill you can use to mix things up:

Bikes, ellipticals,  Stair Masters and row machines are all great options for getting your heart rate up and keeping it there.

If you don’t want to use a machine you can jump rope, knock out some of these finishers, jumping jacks, burpees, mountain climbers, tuck jumps, lunges or squats (which come with the added bonus of tightening those legs and booty – we call that winning!).

You can also take cardio-focused classes at your gym. I find Zumba and kickboxing to each be an amazing cardio challenge that kicks my butt every time.

The good thing about cardio, or any kind of workout really, is that no matter what you decide to do, there are always ways to change it up to keep things new and exciting. Whatever you choose to do, push yourself. We all know that half-assing a workout will get you half-ass results.

Always remember that you DO NOT need a gym membership to get the results that you desire.

During the first year of my fat loss training, all of my workouts were done at home with videos and a few free weights (with 3 little ones running around, I should add). I could have used the excuse that I didn’t have the right equipment, but I wasn’t going to let a lame excuse like that keep me from taking action – and neither should you!

Make Cardio A Permanent Part of Your Training Plan

It’s typical to get about halfway through my run and then start to consider stopping early. Or to think that since I’m now trim and fit that cardio isn’t as important as it used to be.

This is usually when I remind myself that I can’t maintain this smokin’ hot body if I don’t continually push myself. Seriously, though, my body can always be improved further. And I understand that the benefits of cardio extend well beyond fat loss.

It helps burn those unwanted pounds of fat, yes. But it also helps build a stronger heart and healthier lungs, increases your VO2Max, gives you more energy, helps relieve stress, and greatly reduces the risk of heart disease, among others. All of those benefits sound like a good enough reason to keep getting in some cardio, wouldn’t you agree?

If you ever start to lose your motivation (which will happen from time to time), remember what you’re working to accomplish. Remember why you started this journey and remind yourself of all that you still desire to accomplish.

I like to tell myself that pushing through to do that extra half mile is what keeps me ready for that unplanned trip to the river or afternoon at the pool. After all, it’s not my bikini that makes my body look good. It’s my body that makes my bikini look good.

I’m committed to making that new bikini look good this year! What about you?

About Amber DeLeal


Photo Credits: Girl on Treadmill Doing Cardio, Girl Jumping Rope

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