Excessive Cardio and Weight Loss – my experience

I was 16 years old when I began my journey towards and healthier body. Unfortunately, the approach I initially took was the opposite of healthy; excessive cardio, extreme caloric restriction, lack of carbohydrates, and the dependence on pre-workouts. I shake my head in shame when looking back at my initial approach. I did lose weight (some fat, a lot of muscle), but I was weak, tired, irritable, and definitely did not look healthy.

Like many others, especially women, I thought the best strategy was to restrict myself in one area, while excessively pushing myself in another. Eventually I spiraled down to a measly 98 pounds, experienced horrible stomach pains, couldn’t sleep, and I looked like I could snap like a twig at any moment. I went too far in the opposite direction, feeling just as unsatisfied as I was with a higher body fat percentage.

It reached the point where everything felt hard, even easy workouts. I lost motivation and couldn’t get a good night’s sleep due to soreness, and the pre-workouts. I wasn’t recovering. I felt like shit.

Luckily I got into lifting weights, and my desire to be strong started to outweigh my desire to be thin. This is where things starting coming together.

Fast forward 18 years and I’m still learning, but I do not restrict myself when it comes to food (that’s not to say I eat carelessly/ poorly) and my days of endless bouts of cardio are far behind me. I now know and respect carbohydrates as an extremely important fuel source for overall health and athletic performance.

I of course still perform aerobic exercise, but I keep it within an hour and make to sure refuel afterwards. Inline skating will forever be my favourite! However, I more often perform conditioning workouts that involves strength training, like circuits including the row machine, loaded carries, sled pulls and pushes.

I am not an endurance athlete, and if you aren’t either, don’t spend all your time performing excessive cardio. Instead, prioritize good sources of protein, lift heavy weights, walk often, reduce or eliminate alcohol, and learn as much as you can about the human body – your body. Respect yourself and things will come together.

Keep moving.

Don’t Skip the Weights, Ladies!

Through working and training in many gyms I have noticed the majority of women avoid the weight room floor like its toxic, jumping from the treadmill to the elliptical, then off to the bike, and finally the stepper.

I understand what these women are likely thinking, because I used to think the same way; through ridiculous amounts of cardio l will burn mega calories and lose all of that excess fat while avoiding the weight room, due to the fear of getting big and bulky.

Ohhh how wrong I was!!

First off, I would like to emphasize that I encourage everyone to participate in some form of cardio 4-7 days a week. Cardiovascular exercise keeps the heart beating strong, prevents lifestyle diseases, improves circulation, releases feel good hormones, improves insulin sensitivity, aids in weight loss, and decreases bad cholesterol. However, you can reap these benefits without spending hours on the machines!

Unless you’re a marathon runner or some sort of long distance athlete, it’s all about intensity not duration. Remember, challenging yourself and pushing your limits will bring results and health benefits. Personally, my cardio workouts are no more than 35 minutes and I push my boundaries every time.

Okay, so back to the importance of strength training. Dumbbells

Muscle mass diminishes with age, so the importance of strength training cannot be ignored. The more muscle you build the leaner and stronger you’ll become, making everyday tasks more manageable (i.e., carrying groceries, opening heavy doors) while decreasing many risks of injury (i.e., back, shoulder, knee pain). Training with weights will also improve bone density, posture, balance, and co-ordination. It will give you those curves and definition you desire, not bulk!

If that isn’t enough to convince you, consider this bit of information I’ve taken from one of my favourite fitness books:

“Muscle is the primary location for burning fat and taking glucose out of your bloodstream, and the biggest contributor to your resting metabolic rate. As the amount of muscle in your body shrinks, you burn fewer calories and your ability to metabolize food gets worse, leaving you more vulnerable to obesity, disease, and other conditions.” (Hutchinson, 2011, p. 101).

If its lack of certainty or confidence that is preventing you from hitting the weights, may I offer a few suggestions that may help?

  1. Start working out at home. Practice exercises such as squats, push-ups, and planks. Consider trying workout videos from credible trainers.
  2. Hire a good personal trainer. A trainer should help you when it comes to proper form, technique, and execution of exercises. This will help ensure you’re doing it properly, and safely.
  3. Try muscle conditioning based group exercise. You’ll receive instruction while working out with others.
  4. Join a women’s only gym. Perhaps it’s the men that make you feel uncomfortable. If so, a gym just for woman will eliminate that issue.

If you are one of those cardio junkies who avoid the weights, I hope you consider including some strength training 2-4 days a week. It will be worth your while, and who knows, maybe you’ll end up loving it as much as I do!


Hutchinson, 2011. Which comes first, cardio or weights? Chapter 5 pg.101.