Friday, May 25, 2012

How To Look Awesome Part 1

Okay, so we've all been there.

The weather is heating up and we all really want to look good for Summer. There's no shame in that.

What's the first thing we do. Conventional thought & practice has us spending endless amounts of time on the elliptical, treadmill or recumbent bike: the Cardio machines.

We see the calories burned information from the machine & think "great, for 30mins I burned 500 calories. Let me do another 30mins".

Now first off, those "calories burned" from the Cardio machines are wholly inaccurate. How can a machine truly know how many calories you've burned without knowing your height, weight, metabolism, heart rate, or V02 max. The simple answer is that it doesn't know. It is guessing for you. So that 500cals may actually be half the amount in reality. I'd personally rather be doing something more intense, results focused & less boring.

Secondly, the more you do a particular cardiovascular exercise (this doesn't apply to HIIT)- lets say staying on the elliptical for 20mins each workout, your body will learn to adapt to the workout. So whilst in the beginning you were burning 200cals for 20mins, after a few sessions of this workout your body gets smarter and learns to conserve its energy expenditure. 20mins on the elliptical will mean less of a calorie burn. To get the same calorie burn as before, you will need to spend more time on the elliptical. This is true for steady state running, you will need to run longer or faster each run to burn the same amount of calories.

Thirdly and probably the most important point, why do we even fixate ourselves on calories burned? Calories burned do not translate into a change in body composition. Unless you are placing an overload on your body or using high intensity in your workouts, your body comp will not change.

Now I'm not saying don't run or use the cardio machines if that's what makes you happy. I'm saying for effectively changing your body composition, it isn't the most efficient option. I myself enjoy running outside and treat it as my me-time.

So, what should you be doing to get even more bang for your buck in your exercises? To have a more effective workout regime for overall fitness, athleticism, fat loss, body composition and strength?
Well the clue was in the last word of the last sentence: Strength.

Strength training isn't inclusively about lifting weights. People strength train using solely their body weight with exercises like pull-ups, push ups, dips, sit-up, squats and more challenging exercises like handstand push-ups, superman & planche push-ups and pistol squats to name a few. And, these people see phenomenal results.

Now, if you find bodyweight exercises hard at first or prefer more progressive weight loading, let's talk about lifting weights :) My first smiley face on this blog because my passion for lifting weights & strength runs deep.

Benefits of lifting weights & strength training
1. It increases bone density & joint strength. This is especially important to women as Osteoporosis is a huge issue for us and lifting weights is a way to offset it.
2. Combats depression by increasing levels of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.
3. Improves cardiovascular health
5. Slows muscles from wasting away - lean muscle mass naturally decreases with age. The muscle loss will then be replaced with fat. Strength training can help with ths.
6. Empowerment - you'll be able to lift heavier things without ask anyone for their help
7. Change the composition of your body by increasing your lean muscle mass
8. Physical attractiveness - sculpt your body with weights.
9. Increase your body's basal metabolic rate - thus promoting long term fat loss.
10. Increase in strength

Will lifting weights make me bulky?
This is a question most women ask and guys will tell you that this isn't really as easy as you think. People work years and years to pack on the kind of muscle mass as Arnold Schwarzenegger and some never really get to that level. For women, it is so much harder to get "bulky". We simply don't produce the high levels of testosterone for this. We would need to take lots & lots of supplements & drugs.

A lot of the "bulky" women you see on the covers of Bodybuidling magazines work hard for many years and some supplement with drugs or growth hormone enhancers to look the way that they do. They are not a true representation of what happens to beginners who take up strength training & lift heavy weights.

Also, lifting heavy promotes strength and not size at first. Remember what I said about your body's ability to always adapt. The heavier weights you lift, the stronger you get.

Getting big doesn't happen overnight and is dependent on your diet. The more you eat over your calorie expenditure, the more weight you gain. And the same can be said for you eating less, you will weigh less.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of How To Look Awesome. I'll discuss what exercises you should be doing to get the fastest results & dispel the toning myth.

~ Fit mom


  1. Hello! What a great looking header you have! Love your title too and looking forward to more fitness tips! Your new follower from MBC, kindly return the love at, appreciate it!

  2. Hi Summer! Thank you for stopping by. We are glad that you like our blog & header. Nerdy mom is a talented artist too :) There will be more fitness & nutrition tips soon. And, we will definitely look through your blog too :)

  3. Wow! Your blog is awesome. I love the information and how inspiring it is! I'm a new follower from the MeloMomma hop! Cheers :)

  4. a great informative and useful post! I agree!!! i think the greatest benefit of excercise as a mom is my kids see me working out...and kids do what their parents do, not what their parents say...
    i am your newest follower from the hop...pls follow back if you can.



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