Christina was a recent college graduate when I met her.
She was ready to step out on her own + land her dream guy.
“As I was getting ready for a blind date, I looked in the mirror at myself and was ashamed of my weight.” remembers Christina.
“I was afraid that my appearance would hold me back from getting the call for a 2nd date. I was tired of being that overweight chick who blamed the 80 plus extra pounds on bad genes.
“I was tired of sitting out of activities or declining hanging out with friends when I didn’t have the energy or ability to participate. I wanted to get healthy and be able to enjoy life the way I wanted to. I wanted people to see me for me + not just my weight.”
She decided she needed to get to work + take care of her health.
Her main goal?
Lose 50 pounds over the next 6 months.
Christina was ready to boost her confidence + love her body again.
So, Christina joined her local gym.
She laced up her brand new Black Nike kicks with bright pink laces.
She sported her new black workout cut-off tee that perfectly described her new mantra ‘train like a beast. Look like a beauty.”
She was ready!
Her first mission?
Conquer that treadmill.
Away she went.
However, she quickly got bored spending an hour or more each workout session without seeing results.
She was ready to give up.
Hold it right there!
Cardio exercise is so important to your overall health + your weight loss goals.
There are so many health benefits to cardio exercise such as a stronger heart and lungs, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, lower risk of type 2 diabetes, increased immune system, decreased depression, decreased anxiety, improved sleep, improved confidence, and of course it can aid in fat loss.
Doesn’t that sound like a win-win for all those pesky PCOS symptoms?
So, why aren’t you seeing results with cardio exercise?
Most often it is because you are doing TOO MUCH.
Yep. You read that right.
I rarely have to tell anyone they aren’t getting enough cardio.
The problem is getting too much cardio is backfiring on your weight loss goals. Too much cardio is stressing your body out. Your body is constantly releasing cortisol, your stress hormone in response to all this cardio.
Over time, all this stress leads to increased appetite, increased cravings, low energy, increased blood pressure, increased irritability, more days getting sick, constant fatigue, and hitting the dreaded plateau.
All of that just messes with our wacky hormones more!
You will end up gaining weight going about cardio that way.
So, what’s a Cyster to do?
We need to change how we view cardio in our weight loss plan.
It is there to help boost the overall health of our body.
It will also help with our PCOS symptoms + to create a healthy body overall.
As far as weight loss goes, it can help give us a little boost in the calorie deficit (not nearly as much as that machine is telling you that you burned) we need to lose weight.
But, it is just a tool to aid in your weight loss.
It does not give you permission to slack on your diet.
The 3 Different Types of Cardio
There are 3 different types of cardio that should be included in your weight loss plan. There is low intensity, moderate intensity, and high intensity.
Low intensity should be done as often as you possibly can fit it in the day. These are exercises such as walking, taking stairs, doing yard or house work, chasing after your kids, and just moving your body throughout the day.
One of my favorite ways to make sure I am moving enough is my fitbit tracker which counts my steps for the day. It “yells” at me if I am not taking enough steps each hour of the day + has a great app where I can track all my other activities and dietary intake.
Just get moving, Cyster!
Next up are moderate intensity cardio workouts. These would be your steady pace exercises such as brisk walking, running, elliptical, stair climber, hiking, biking, etc. Intensity is chosen more with what effort you put into it rather than specific activity. Your exertion should be more in the 5-7 zone of the Perceived Exertion Scale (RPE).
Moderate intensity workouts should be done 1-2 times per week for 30 minutes or less to get all the health benefits + to aid in your weight loss efforts.
You read that right!
30-60 minutes each week of an exercise like running is all you need to reap the benefits!
Your new mantra is “less is more”!
You will see better results by doing it this way instead of killing yourself with hours and hours on that treadmill!
Last up we have high intensity workouts. These are typically done in high intensity interval training (HIIT) format where you are go all out for a specific time and then have a specific rest time. These you would be going at the 7, 8, or 9 level on the RPE. These workouts should be done 1-2 times per week as well and will be about 15-20 minutes max each time.
HIIT is the real metabolism booster when it comes to cardio exercise.
It is time to step away from hours and hours of cardio workouts + adopt the “less is more” mantra. When you do exercise the RIGHT way, you don’t need to slave away. My heart is tired of hearing about all the work you put into losing weight with PCOS with ZERO results.
I am here to help walk you through a plan that will actually work for you + won’t keep you in the gym all day long.
Your homework for this week if you so choose to accept, is to find 3-5 activities that you can start doing every day to help you boost the low intensity activities. Next, find 2-3 moderate intensity activities you can do. Look over your calendar for this next week and schedule in your 1-2 days of moderate intensity cardio. Now go out there + enjoy your cardio exercises again!
Next week: I’ll go into more detail about how to add HIIT the right way for PCOS so you don’t overstress your body + send your hormones all crazy! How you can do HIIT the right way so you stop sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
Grab my exercise cheat sheet to give you a head start on exercising with PCOS + join the Cyster Talk Community where you can meet up with your fellow Cysters for all the support + hugs to get you through the PCOS struggles!