In my last post, I shared that something we think of as healthy (exercise) can actually age us internally. I received so much wonderful feedback from everyone – many of whom have struggled with chronic cardio, and are learning the benefits of breaking the habit.
There were also those who reached out to me who really want to break the cardio-queen cycle, but they either don’t know how or scared to for fear of blowing up like a balloon, or both.
Consider this though if you’re having a problem breaking the cycle: the more cardio you do, the more it takes JUST to maintain your weight. Forget the hormonal health issues for a moment and think about practicality…because who has hours and hours and hours to spend doing something that really isn’t serving them? What if you could get your life back without the obsession and worry of “omg, did I do enough cardio today??”
Most people won’t even let themselves consider alternatives. They are too wrapped up in their habit, dare I say, their addiction, that they just can’t let any other way in.
But…exactly how much is too much when it comes to cardio? Consider the following signs and symptoms:
- You feel lethargic much of the time, and you basically spend your time working out and sleeping with little motivation for anything else
- You really don’t enjoy your workouts, but do them anyway because you feel you “have to”
- Your performance is getting worse, not better, even with doing “more”
- You get sick frequently, especially with colds and the like
- Your digestion is off
- No matter how much you do or how hard you work, you still don’t see the results you desire
- You have decreased libido
- You feel “puffy” and inflamed a lot of the time
- You have joint aches and pains
- You recover slowly from exercise
- You have trouble sleeping
So how do you find that happy balance between just enough and too much? A lot of it has to do with a mental shift. You have to gradually retrain your subconscious to understand and believe that less is more.
There are two elements to this: the tactical and the emotional.
Gradually start to decrease the number of minutes you spend working out, and use the minutes saved to either take a nice leisure walk or do something that makes you feel good – take a bath, get a massage, spend time with pets, etc. Whatever it is that gives you that “feel good” feeling
Pay close attention to hunger, energy and cravings during this time. As you begin to exercise less, you should find that your hunger decreases, your energy increases and your cravings go down. This is a GOOD thing!
Continue doing this for several weeks, cutting your minutes back more and more until you’re around 20 to 30 minutes. At this point, you can try the suggested “loose” workout schedule below.
Get clear and focused on your intentions. You know that chronic cardio is not serving you and could very well be harming you. Envision yourself how you’d like to be – working out less, yet feeling younger, stronger and more energetic. There will be times when you will want to do more – resist the urge, but don’t beat yourself up either. It takes time to “retrain your brain.”
Some can do this within a month’s time – others take longer. When I first started my journey, I gradually cut back on cardio over the course of about six months – during which time I switched up a lot of my training to more strength and high intensity intervals and sprints.
This by no means a be-all, end-all plan, but it’s a good place to start and generally speaking, has worked well for my clients. The number one thing is you must like how you move…period. Sure there will be days when you don’t want to workout, even if it’s something you typically enjoy. That’s ok and normal. But you must enjoy what you’re doing for the majority of the time. Exercise doesn’t have to suck!
Three days per week: strength training with heavier weights. I love Metabolic Effect or Metabolic Prime workouts for this. They’re short, intense and are exactly the types of workouts I transitioned to when I was breaking my chronic cardio habit.
One day per week: “sprint” type workout. This can be anything that gets your heart rate up. Track sprints, treadmill sprints, hill sprints, bike sprints, rower, plyometrics, etc. After a short warm-up, go as hard as you can for 20-30 seconds and rest as much as needed to recover fully. Repeat for a total of 8 to 10 times. Cool down appropriately.
One day per week: your cardio of choice. For me, it’s my long run. I usually do a 10 mile run each week that gives me my cardioqueen fix without upsetting my hormones.
As many times per week as possible: leisure walking/R&R activities – long, slow walks in nature, massages, baths, reading, sex…anything that relaxes you and makes your feel all Zen! These help to balance stress hormones. If you want to overdo anything, overdo these!
Finally, you might consider joining my soul sister, Kristin’s, and my 11 Day Reset. Find out all the details here.
Did these tips help? Let me know! Shoot me an email at Tara@PrimeLifeFit.com.