How I Quit Doing Cardio

This headline alone is probably going to get a lot of attention.

Cardio has got to be one of the most controversial topics in the fitness world. Lovers, haters, don’t really care-ers, you name it.

Disclaimer: If you are currently struggling with ED or in recovery and think that reading about this topic may result in a trigger effect or is a sensitive issue, please skip the rest of this post. I don’t want to offend or influence others, just share my personal experiences in hopes that they can help others. Everyone is different and knows how certain things affect their bodies and minds—it’s up to us to use our best judgment.

While everyone has their reason for loving cardio, hating cardio, love-hating cardio, etc. I wanted to share my personal story of why I quit cardio.

I knew for years that I did more cardio than was necessary. Even though I could honestly look a client in the eye and tell them they should focus on weight training and supplement with cardio, I was still doing it 5-6 days per week. I KNEW I didn’t need to logically, but emotionally, I NEEDED TO.

I had this fear in my head that if I stopped doing cardio, I would become an elephant with muscles. It’s true. Even though I knew this wouldn’t happen, I thought I was a freak of nature and that’s what would happen to me. It’s the same logic I have when I go in the ocean and think that if someone is going to get bitten by a shark, it’s going to be me. (butreallyitsgoingtobeme).

Over the years my focus has shifted several times. From wanting to be skinny, to wanting to be super lean and toned, to wanting to be muscular, to wanting to just be normal, to EVERYTHING ELSE YOU COULD EVER THINK OF. I’ve been training for 7 years straight, and to think that evolution of my training/mindset wouldn’t happen is silly. Of course it happened. It happens to anyone who trains for a long period of time. Goals change, life changes, and you make different decisions.

My focus finally shifted (although I had wanted it to shift much earlier than it actually did) to wanting to just be super fit and not being overly concerned with how I looked. I just wanted to eat healthy and feel good. I also wanted to be a fitness warrior. I’m an athlete and super competitive, so of course, I’ve ALWAYS wanted to be a warrior, but I was always afraid of letting cardio go because somehow that would make me some kind of an elephant warrior. I didn’t want to be an elephant warrior, I just wanted to be a regular warrior.

To be quite honest, I can’t remember exactly when I stopped doing cardio, but I think it was sometime last September maybe. I remember texting and e-mailing back and forth with Bret and him telling me to basically just lift heavy a few times a week. He said to keep doing the other things I was doing (not cardio-related) but to focus on my heavy lifting sessions each week. He promised my body would change for the better. No crazy diets, just good clean eating (which I was already doing) and a heavy lifting routine. I like to think that I’ve gotten less stubborn with age (though many would probably argue), and I actually decided to trust Bret and go with it (Lord knows how many times him and I have argued back and forth because I just had to challenge what he told me…sorry Bret!!! :)). I literally just stopped doing cardio altogether and started lifting heavy again and adding in new things like bouldering. What happened as a result of these changes was exactly the opposite of the elephant warrior I feared I would become….

First of all, I had forgotten how much I loved lifting heavy. That amazing feeling of lifting heavy shit and feeling like you can take over the world. It’s freaking awesome and I’m not sure why I stopped doing it (in exchange for more functional training). Secondly, I noticed how much more energy I had for my lifting sessions. I didn’t have that drained feeling I was used to (shocker there!) and actually pushed harder than I thought I could most of the time.

Over time, I started mixing up the heavy lifting days with full body plyometric/functional days as well. This includes exercises like burpees, medicine ball slams/thrusters, KB swings, Box jumps, etc. I had done all of these in my workouts before, but always before or after a cardio session. I could rarely just let that be my workout alone. Because I NEEDED to do cardio too…

In addition to creating a stronger, fitter, more functional me, my body started changing too. My arms are more defined, my abs are showing more and more, my butt is looking better than ever, my back is pretty shredded these days and most importantly, I feel GOOD. I feel mentally and physically awesome and I don’t miss cardio a bit.

Do I do cardio from time to time? Yes I do. I do 20 minutes on the stairmill maybe once a week (or not at all) and…well that’s about it. It’s usually just because I have a lot of meetings on Mondays and I need a break from sitting. I don’t miss running for the time being (and if I ever do, I’ll go running when I feel like it, not because I “have” to), and I DEFINITELY don’t miss the long sessions on the treadmill. I’ve actually tried to hop on a few times just to pass time while I’m waiting for something and it’s just the most boring thing on the planet.

Now before I get backlash for saying “cardio is bad”, please understand that is not the case. I do NOTTTTTT think cardio is bad. Not one bit. And if you hate lifting weights and just want to do cardio, DO IT!!! It obviously has GREAT cardiovascular benefits (duh, hence the name) and keeps your heart ticking at a nice leisurely pace. Cardio is NOT bad, just so we’re clear.

MY PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH CARDIO WAS BAD. Because I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I was doing it to burn fat and stay in good cardiovascular shape, but knew it wasn’t necessary for me given the other activities that I do.

I train HARD. When I do a workout, I am sweating, my heart is POUNDING, and my breathing is heavy in almost every workout I do. I train like I’m training for an event. In fact, I’m often asked what I’m training for, but it’s just how I approach training. For me, training is not just an outlet, but a chance for me to prove to myself just how much I can do. I feel AMAZING when I push myself past my limits in the gym, and I treat it like I’m up against others. In my head, I don’t want anyone else to be more fit than I am, so I train with that mentality. I definitely get my cardiovascular benefits, and probably have more endurance now than I did when I was doing so much cardio.

My point in this post is to hopefully reach others out there who may also have a similar relationship with cardio. The people that aren’t out there running miles a day because they like running, but because they feel like they have to. To the people spending hours walking on a treadmill, not because they want to get a sweat for the day, but because they feel they HAVE to. THESE ARE THE PEOPLE I’M SPEAKING TO. Not the ones who enjoy it. Because if you enjoy running and biking and swimming….ENJOY THE HELL OUT OF IT. You’re doing a GOOD THING for your body, so don’t misinterpret me.

This is my personal story and it shouldn’t be the same as yours. It is merely to put some perspective on a struggle that I KNOW I am not alone in. I’ve had HUNDREDS of conversations with fellow fitness friends that go through the same struggle and I think it is important to show others that it doesn’t have to be that way and that you WILL NOT become an elephant if you stop doing cardio.

I’d love to hear your stories as well. Feel free to e-mail me if you’d like at FitLizzio@gmail.com.

Do you do cardio because you like it or because you feel like you have to?

Do you feel you have a good or bad relationship with cardio?

 

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Day 1

Today has been great! I got up around 9 and walked to the gym (about 3/4 mile) and began my workout. Today was chest and triceps. Let me just say, narrow pushups are my enemy! They were so tough! After my lift, I hopped on the treadmill for 30 minutes for some incline walking. I started at 10% 3.3mph and worked up to 15% 3.3mph. Afterwards, I jumped into the tail end of a circuit/plyometric class that was going on. It consisted of 1 minute each of:

-Medicine ball squats on a bosu ball

-Jumping jacks with a dumbbell held in front of you

-Exercise ball knee crunches (Start in push up position with your feet on the ball and crunch inwards)

-Battle Ropes

-kettle bell swings

-Step Up Jump offs

It was a good end to my work out!

I can’t believe it’s already 1:30pm. I got some work done at the gym and am at home now…..still doing work. I’ll post later with an update on my food intake!

 

Measurements + Cardio Decrease

Hey guys!

Bear with me for the next few weeks. I’m finishing up my finals, while packing my life away for the big move! It’s been pretty busy around here. 😉

I just wanted to talk about a few things. I like cardio and its unlikely that I’ll ever just stop doing it altogether, but I don’t like doing endless cardio every single day. It’s pretty monotonous and I’ve always done it just to stay in good shape.

Lately, I’ve gotten into some ruts with my workouts, as far as the types of workouts I’ve been doing. I LOVE working out, but I do like to change it up so that I can keep enjoying my workouts. Slaving isn’t fun 🙂

-I was bored with lifting weights, so I started doing more running and plyometrics.(burpees, jumping movements, pushups, tire flips etc.)

-It gets HOT in AZ in April, so running hasn’t been as fun. Feeling like you’re going to get heat stroke while pounding the pavement isn’t exactly my idea of a good time. I realize waking up at the crack of dawn is an option, however it’s not one I want to take right now.

Anyways, I missed the iron, and have been lifting pretty regularly again, combined with the plyometrics. Let me just put this on the record: Best workouts I’ve ever gotten.

They are fast, intense, hard, fun, and always keep you guessing. That’s what she…

As far as cardio? Well I’ve still been doing it about 3-4 days a week, but considering I was doing it 6-7 days, it’s a drastic cut for me. I sweat more, breathe harder and get fatigued so much quicker with the workouts I’ve been doing lately and I finally realize how much time I’m wasting on steady state cardio. I’m not saying it’s bad, and I still like it and will continue to do it, but endless hours is just not necessary. In April, I have lost 0.5 inches in each of the following areas: waist(smallest part), butt, upper thighs and lower thighs. I lost an entire inch on my hips! May will be even better 😀

With that said, I will show you one of the workouts I did recently.

Wacky Workout – Go through these exercises without a rest. When you finish all of them, take a 1 minute break and repeat. Do the circuit 3-4 more times depending on your fitness level. (Note: If you can only make it through once, no shame!! It’s a tough circuit.)

10 Ninja Jumps

10 Barbell Walking Lunges(10 per leg)

10 burpees (with push ups)

Heavy bag pull (if you don’t have access to a heavy bag, you can replace this with a sprint…different but will still raise your heart rate)

15 DB bicep curls (per arm)

20 DB overhead tricep extensions

The funny thing is that when I wrote this workout, it looked pretty easy to me. Then I did it. End of story.

5 Weeks Out

So I’m pretty sure that nobody reads this anymore 😀 Sorry for being such a slacker but I just haven’t had much time for blogging these days.

Training

I’m literally in the gym all day long. As you know I work there, as well as work out there, so if I’m not working out, I’m usually working. My cardio is…well…a lot right now. I don’t want to get into too much detail because it isn’t something that I would ever have a client do. I’m borderline behind schedule and need to make sure I’m ready for the show. I am not taking on more than I can handle, workout wise, but it is definitely rigorous training. I am thankful that my body keeps up with me 🙂

My diet is very strict right now as well, but I’m feeling good. I truly like training hard and dieting hard (although I’m definitely looking forward to eating a bit more variety after the show ;-)). I feel extremely accomplished knowing that I’m putting in all the effort that I can.

Stress levels are high right now for other reasons. Lots of things going on in July, lots of things going on in my head, and lots of things that cost money and take a lot of time. I don’t have much of either to spare, so I’m trying to work it all out.

I’m hangin’ in there and only 5 weeks to go! Hoping my body does what it needs to do 🙂 I’ll post some pictures here sometime soon when I get a chance, too.

Tips for Getting it all Done! + TV Appearance

Hey guys! I’ve been so neglectful with the blog. I apologize, I’ve just been busy! Summer school is great because you get everything done so quickly, but it is SO much work!!

I’ve talked about the various things I have been doing with my life these past few months, and when I begin to write about it sometimes I’m amazed that it all gets done. Here are some tips to getting it ALL done:

Tips to Getting it All Done

Sleep: Go to bed as early as you can. Hands down, the best advice I have. The earlier you wake up, the earlier you can get your day started, and the beauty is that most of the world is sleeping, so they won’t bug you and things won’t just come up as often.

Cardio: Wake up and go do it. Even if you don’t want to, just do it. Just get your butt to the gym, or outside and just START. Don’t think, just start!!

Weight Training: Some people prefer to do this in the evening, but by the evening the last thing I want to do is work out. My routine involves doing cardio, eating my breakfast at the gym, waiting for the food to digest and then hitting up the weight room. If i have more cardio to do, I do it right after my weight training and then my workouts are DONE for the day. I’m usually done by about 8am

Studying: If you’re in school or studying for something, it can be hard to find the time to do this on its own. I’ve found that incline walking and  reading chapters for my classes is pretty much a win-win situation. With incline walking, you don’t bounce as much and you don’t have to worry about slowing your intensity because you have it pre-set, so you can’t slack. The cardio time also goes by really fast when you’re reading, so cardio flys by. Studying+Cardio all in one=AWESOME.

E-mails, Homework and Work-related items: A lot of my work (outside of my gym and supplement store jobs) involves writing client workouts and meal plans; and doing freelance articles. I’ve found that the best way to plan for this is to write it in my calendar and get things done early. If I have an hour in the afternoon free, I write in my calendar what I can get done in that hour. I do this every Sunday for the week, and obviously it changes, but it’s a guideline to ensure I don’t forget about things. Plus, who doesn’t love checking things off of a list?! 😉

Those are just some tips that I use to get everything done. I try to multi-task when I can, and to plan things out for the week so that I get it all done without cramming it all into one day.

TV Appearance

If I get a copy of the airing, I’ll post it, but if you are in the AZ area, tune into Channel 3 tomorrow (Monday) morning at 10AM Arizona Time to see me demo-ing some exercises for my former roomie Emily! It was really fun to do, and I can’t wait(or maybe I can, because I might look like a goof haha!) to see it on TV.

****Less than 6 weeks to go until competition time!! Still have some work to do, but I’m confident I can pull it off!

Congrats to Rebecca, Genie, and Kendra on their competitions this weekend. They all 3 did incredible and have set the bar very high!!! Way to go girls!!!

Boxing + Everything Else

Wow, totally disappeared there for a few days!! Sorry about that.

Life has been super busy, but filled with great things. I’ve been working, school, homework, workouts. The usual.

Today I made up with an old friend: BOXING.

I haven’t boxed in a few months. I got kinda sick of it and I kept tweaking my wrists! I decided to take some time off, but tonight I went back. It was a boxing conditioning class so a mix of boxing, plyometrics, and cardio. All I have to say is 3 minutes of jumping lunges is freaking brutal.

Contest Prep

I am 6.5 weeks away from competing!!! I am getting worried, but I think that if things go the way they have been, I should be ready to compete. It’s much different this time around, as I may have mentioned last year, I was ready to compete about a month before my show. This year, I’m cutting it down to the wire. Eek.

I’ve been seriously KICKING my ass in the gym. I’m becoming ridiculously good at coming up with fun, creative and HARD workouts in the weight room. I keep surprising myself with the new things I’m coming up with! I love it though and I’m NEVER bored. So many ways to change things up!

Cardio has been going well. I’m getting it done and that’s what matters. The “end” is in sight and I’m SO stoked for it. I’m already eyeballing a few shows shortly after Vegas, but I’m focusing on the task at hand for now.

 

Hope everyone is doing well!

Question: Do you shower after your workouts or go about your day and then shower at night? I’m a dirty rat and I just go about my day sweaty unless I have a reason to shower. Gotta love having a job that allows me to show up looking like a sweaty beast 🙂

Exhaustion sets in…..

Hey guys…

I’m running on about 2.5 hours of sleep so if something doesn’t make sense, just forget abahhhht it. 🙂

It’s finally hitting me. The exhaustion has caught up and I am ready for a few days of absolute nothingness.

This week is going by SO slowly, yet I’ve done SO MUCH.

Between Monday through today I’ve done:

6.5 hours of cardio

About 4 hours of weight training

6.5 hours of class

13 hours of work at the gym

7 hours of work at home

1 hour of posing practice

8 hours of homework

Lots of errands and tying up loose ends with a few things

Needless to say, I’m TIREDDDDDD!

All of that with a contest diet really takes a toll on the body. I couldn’t sleep last night for no reason at all, and had to wake up and open the gym today. I get to sleep in tomorrow, and you can bet that all electronics will be in the OFF position until I choose to turn them back on. 7 weeks from tomorrow is stage time…..body is doing what it needs to. I lost another 2 inches in my legs, 2 inches in my butt, waist and arms stayed the same. My upper body is really coming together and just needs a little more work and the lower body has finally joined in, but still needs more work.

Upper Body Workout

This was hard, but a really fun workout for me.

T-Bar Row – Burpees – Assisted Chin Ups – Med. ball mountain climbers (3 sets)

Pushups – Bench dips – Jumping jacks – pec deck – OH DB Extension (3 sets)

DB Military Press – Rear delt raise – kettle bell swings – lateral raises – front raises (3 sets)

My reps were at 15-20 for each lifting exercise. Plyos/cardio intervals varied.

LOVED this workout. Pretty quick and left me pretty wiped.

BEDTIME!