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Cardio Overload! A Case for Strength Training

As my recent bikini pictures post in the Success section of the message board show, I've come a long way. But I've been thinking this week about what I really need to do to finish up this journey. Being stuck for 6 months hasn't really been a plateau, as much as it's accidental maintenance. I'm doing enough to keep my body in a steady state, building some muscle since my body fat percentage has dropped, but I also haven't lost enough fat to really make a noticeable difference on the scale. So, here's a few things that are causing it, and a few things I"m gonna change to fix it


I realized this downfall started when I got a gym membership in December and started with a trainer right at the beginning of the year. The trainer had me work with him for 30 minutes a week (mostly strength training) but then whenever I was at the gym otherwise he told me "cardio, cardio, CARDIO!". So I did it. And my weight loss came to a grinding halt. Those 30 minutes of strength training was quite a bit less than the 3 times a week I had been doing before with a Chalean Extreme/Turbo Fire hybrid. And I let myself fall into a habit of just doing cardio at the gym when I wasn't with my trainer.

And then I discovered running and well, I ran away with the cardio idea even more. I've been averaging 4 runs a week, most recently it'll be something like a short, fast run, a normal distance run (like 3-5K), an interval run, and one long run (5k+). With one training session mixed in, and the occasional extra day of... you guessed it... cardio!


More specifically, restaurant food overload. I'm awesome when I can cook for myself, choose on my own, etc. Monday-Friday I'm steallar. Then the weekend hits, I spend time with my kickball team or my boyfriend, and the beer starts flowing. The food gets ordered. The boyfriend gets an ice cream craving. And even if I saw 149.X or even 148! on Thursday morning, it's long gone by Saturday or Sunday morning.

This is where the maintenance part comes in. I might eat a calorie deficit during the week, but even with my calorie zigzagging schedule, I was eating more than I should on the weekends. And being this small with a somewhat low BMR, it was enough to keep me at roughly the same weight. The one weekend where I didn't let myself go in the past month, I was in the 140s the whole week. Then came more restaurant food and beer and soft pretzels and... welll... you get the idea.


There's something to be said about focus and determination. It's essential to have to succeed... and then it drives you nuts. Obsession with numbers... weight, waist measurement, calorie count, protein count, number of miles run... you name it, I count it (you've all seen my excel spreadsheets by now with my weight chart...). I've been fixating on this so much that when it doesn't go the way I want, I'm blinded to the reasons. I know strength training is important, but it doesn't burn 600 calories in one workout. And I know it's important to eat more during the week, but I was saving up calories for the weekend. All bad habits... all fueled by numbers.


So, in general I've been pretty overloaded lately, and it's got to stop. I have one more 5K on June 5th, so 2 weeks away, not even. After that I'm cutting back on the running. I'll aim for 3 times a week: an interval run, a short to normal distance run (even speed), and a long distance run (slow speed). The rest of the days I'm going to make sure strength training makes an appearance! I have Chalean Extreme, I'm dusting off the DVDs and going to follow it again. I'll probably just do the Lean phase workouts and Burn Intervals. Just because I have a gym membership doesn't mean I have to spend 5 dyas a week there. I can go 3 days a week and fit the DVDs in the other days, it's not cheating on my gym... haha.

And as for my weekend issues. I'm just gonna have to sacrifice a little. If Randy wants pizza, I'll gently nudge him to a place with more options for me. If he wants ice cream, I'll get a tiny cup, not a giant one. Instead of guzzling 4 beers at kickball, I'll stick to one or two rum and diet cokes and not eat the bar food. It's small tweaks but I'm still happy and social and not being fussy. 

I'm really hoping this all starts to come together. I do love the bikini picture, but as my sister put it "it looks great except for the tummyness". Well, that tummyness has got to go, and toning up with an infusion of strength training and a defusion of junk food is the way I'm going at it. And I'm sticking to the calorie zigzagging... within reason. I'm gonna knock the calories down a bit, maybe by 100 on the high days and raise it 100 on the low days. I can't do 1900 on a regular day.

Any tips and comments are appreciated! Or suggestions of other strength DVDs to folllow. I think I have another Biggest Loser DVD lying around that I haven't opened yet. 

30 votes + -


oddyogi wrote 83 months ago:
Everything sounds awesome! Make sure when you do strength training to do fewer reps of heavier weights.. these types of exercises will build muscle, which is what you want. Higher reps and lower weight will just increase muscle endurance, not build it.

Also make sure you're getting lots of protein. My goal is 140-150g every day. It's really hard though, especially on a calorie deficit.
Ashykins wrote 83 months ago:
ChaLEAN Extreme?
Aeriel wrote 83 months ago:
So funny that you would post this today. I have been focusing on the outdoor exercising and the running and walking for the last few months since I was so happy the weather had improved. Went back to a JM video yesterday (NMTZ) and she kicked my ass! I was a jiggling, sweating pile of jello on the floor by the time I was done and very sore today. I am about 10 pounds lighter than when I was doing the videos before, but obviously, the cardio I was focusing on had not kept my muscles in peak shape. Good for you for recognizing it too! Videos are definitely making an appearance in my weekly program from now on!
00trayn wrote 83 months ago:
Chalean Extreme is a Beachbody workout program, it focuses on building muscle to burn more fat. I did it for a while but got a bit tired of it after the first 2 months and started focusing on cardio (yep, bad!). I'm going at it again, and I plan to go for lifting heavy. I only have 8 lb weights, but I do have resistance bands I can use instead. Those can be killer if you use them right.
jenniferg83 wrote 83 months ago:
well said! as women we tend to overlook weight training and only forcus on losing weight and cardio!!! strength training is just as important to stay tone and still lose weight when we get closer to our goals. it helps us mold into hotness! ;) i too, have to work more weights into my week. looking forward to seeing if these small changes help you! :)
oddyogi wrote 83 months ago:
I forgot to mention that you're looking lovely in your new bikini!
hpsnickers1 wrote 83 months ago:
Knock down your carbs - cut out flours, sugars, you can even cut out grains. Limit your fruit - contains sugars and your dairy - also contains sugars (exept some natural cheeses). Get most of your carbs from non-starchy veggies. Increase your fats (healthy fats - no veggie oils - coconut oil is amazing stuff!). The belly comes from carbs. I was 120lbs (5'2") - healthy weight. I tried primal eating and in 3 weeks dropped 4.6lbs of pure body fat. I strength train to keep muscle mass intact. The fat I lost came from my belly, butt, and thighs mostly. My tummy has never been this flat - not even when I was a kid.
00trayn wrote 83 months ago:
I've tried the low carb thing, it really isn't for me. I got SO sick of trying to eat protein that I didn't want to eat it at all. I've gotten my diet to a point where it's sustainable. I like fruits and veggies and I stick to whole grains for the most part (whole wheat pitas, brown rice medley, etc.) and I get my 100g of protein a day. I'm not a fan of extreme diets just to lose a few pounds.
jrueckert wrote 83 months ago:
I agree with 00trayn about the extreme's dumb to cut out one food group just so that when you add it back in, you gain what you lost.
pnesabrina wrote 83 months ago:
I agree with Sara and jrueckert,too. Low carb gives me headaches. And it´s not very feasible as a long-term plan so, for my goals it basically sucks. Although what´s best for me is not best for everyone, so if this is your path, stick with it.
Oh,and if you can find a way of getting rid of the tummyness (love the word!)... Please tell me! In my profile pic with the green dress, I love the waistline, but the pose carefully hides my residual but still respectable tummyness!!!
AmberBarrios wrote 83 months ago:
WOW thanks so much for posting this! I too have been stuck for almost 6 months now and it's so frustrating, but like you I focus on cardio too much maybe. I am going to restart the Insanity program today, and hopefully not have to stop halfway through due to an injury like last time, and I am hoping that helps cause I know I built some muscle with Insanity before. I love my turbo Jam but I think it may be time to rotate it out. Good luck to you, by the way your bikini pic is amazing!! you look fabulous!!!
BrunetteWife wrote 83 months ago:
You sound just like me, err, I feel just like you... either way, I too have been on cardio overload and recently joined a gym so I can get som strength training.. and I too have been eating a bit more than I should and naturally, I've been obsessing over numbers.. I too have been ina 'maintenance' mode for 6months, problem is I still have another 40-50lbs to go :/ I needed to see this today, it's good to know I'm not the only one on a long 'plateau' maintenance, whatever, lol.. By the way, you look great. Good luck to you and everyone else who commented :D
RunConquerCelebrate wrote 83 months ago:
I think you and I are at the same stage, I have been at the same weight for 5 months going on 6 and at this point I think I am maintaining more than a plateau. I lost 12lbs with p90x Lean version and I think it had to do with the fact that I did weight training. Thinking of just doing that again to see if I can loose another 12lbs. And get the stupid scale moving again.
BOGmama2010 wrote 83 months ago:
I have been in accidental maintenance as well. I'm doing Insanity now, but I know that when we finish in 5.5 weeks, we'll be doing ChaLEAN Extreme again to get back to the strength training. I miss it!
AggieCass09 wrote 83 months ago:
Again, we are in the same boat...This is why i started my P90X hybrid so that I can have a focused lifting plan and dont just default to the cardio (running) addiction. I also lose it on the weekends and I refuse to let myself hold myself back...lets UNITE this weekend and stay focused yet still have a good time! I know you can do it and i cant wait to read the blog of you reaching your goals! Keep up the EXCELLENT work!
SkinnyGal08 wrote 83 months ago:
I think we are all on cardio overload what I did because im a cardio junkie is I train 3 days a week to get my strength in... I also want to do insanity the days I don't train my brother got it I don't know idk doing all that will be too much but I want to badly! :) I love cardio but at the weight I am I need to do strength training! :) we r in this together!

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