If you are on a weight loss journey, then cardio is your second best friend. Your first best friend when losing weight will always be your diet. If you have not developed a good diet yet, check out my other article here. There are a few tips I have picked up as I have worked out over the years that help make the cardio we have to do much more bearable. Nothing is going to be a good replacement for the old adage "Practice makes prefect", and that goes for cardio as well. At first it is going to be tough and a lot of hard work. Your body isn't going to be used to the strain on your legs. Your body is going to get tired fast. Your lungs will burn and your mouth will get dry. But, Most people make it thought this stage and find a small amount of glee in the ability they gain as they get used to doing a cardio routine. The stage that I see most people quit at is after this. I call it the "Boredom Stage". The Boredom Stage is the worst workout killer out there in my opinion. Here are a few tips and suggestions to keep you going strong and lean when the boredom sets in.
Bring a friend
Seems simple right? Well, that's because it is! Bringing a friend can help keep you motivated. Not only can a friend keep you motivated, but a friend can keep you company while you toil away at your cardio. Bringing a friend to the gym for cardio is also a great way to keep up the important relationships in your life that some how get neglected when you are super busy. Especially if you both have kids. Talk about killing Three birds with one stone, getting away from the kids for a bit, visiting with your friend, while getting skinny? Who could ever say this is not a good idea? Most gyms have a fairly cheap daycare or kid zones that are massively fun for kids, and an hour or two a week will do wonders towards maintaining the neglected relationships in your life. Bring a few friends a week, get them all guest passes and see if they will sign up and work out with you on a regular basis. My gym gives discounts and t-shirts for sign up referrals! (I think that is four birds with one stone...)
Think you are not de-hydrated? Most people are dehydrated and you should probably think again! If you are working out on a regular basis and are not drinking three to four liters of water a day, chances are you are dehydrated. Drinking enough water is essential to losing weight, but what most people don't know is that muscle is made of 70% water. So when you are dehydrated, your muscles are dehydrated. This makes it much harder to use these muscles and the recovery of these muscles happens much slower when they are dehydrated. I can totally tell when I have forgotten to drink water, my cardio suffers a lot. Severe dehydration can lead to cramping, nausea and even death! If you already have a dry mouth, you need to pay attention to this subtle sign of dehydration and start drinking water, in small amounts and in short intervals, till you have drunk a significant amount of water. I try to drink at least a liter when I realize I forgot to drink water through out the day (It happens...)
I try to never forget my Ipod when I go to the gym. I am still surprised when I look at the clock and time has flown by instead of slowoy dragging me across shards of glass, second by second, as I pump away at an hour of cardio. The reason? I am rocking out!! Not much in life makes the time fly like your favorite tunes in your ears! Even when my battery dies or I am sick of my playlists and podcasts, I use my pair of head phones on the tv receiver attached to most of the ellipticals and treadmills in the gym. Want some motivation for cardio? How about an hour of UFC to make running your butt off feel worth the effort and time! Sometimes the biggest loser is on, and I up the resistance...lol.
Switching Cardio Machine Programs
When I started doing cardio on a regular basis I was just hitting the quick start button and staying on the machine till I hit a amount of minutes and then I would cool down, clean up my machine and called it good. Then I got to the point where I was no longer struggling with my cardio, so I turned up the intensity and started blasting through my weight loss plateaus. Then the mental plateaus set in. I was starting to dread my cardio again, and so I started using the other programs on the machine, like the hill climb setting, and the fat loss setting. These programs are full of high intensity periods followed by low intensity periods, and really help to mix it up a bit and give my cardio session a small goal and a little more excitement.
Setting some cardio goals is a good way to relieve a bit of the boredom that comes with cardio. Some of the goals I set and strive to meet for my cardio are time on a machine goals, intensity on a machine goals, and cardio routine goals such as 30 minutes on the elliptical, 15 minutes on the stationary bike and fifteen minutes on the treadmill. I think these plus some small tasks such as drinking half a bottle of water on this machine and then half a bottle of water on that machine. When It comes down to it, you just have to do your cardio. You don't have to"Like" it and you don't have to "Want" to do it, you just have to "Do It".