When I joined the Army, one of the things that I was the most nervous about was all the running. Oh how I dreaded that! And with good reason....we ran and ran and ran. We ran everywhere! You know what happens when you really run alot, you suck wind, you feel sick, your legs feel like noodles and you just know that you will throw up. On our first pass (actually, it was just a 2 hour pass in Basic Training), we got to go the little "shopette" and eat what we wanted. Of course the drill sergeants warned us not to pig out, but after 2 weeks of total control and eating only chow hall meals, none of us were really taking their advice. So off we go, filling up on chips, candy, and basically all kinds of garbage food. No sooner do we get back and line up for head count, then we are told to dress out for PT (Physical Training) and boy did they run us! Have you ever eaten a bag of Funyuns....my personal favorite.....a couple of Snicker bars and soda and then run 3 miles. Let's just say, sweat wasn't the only thing flying during that run! There was some serious hurling and I'm not talking the Olympic kind!
So knowing that vigorous cardio is essential to good health and weight loss, how do we make ourselves do something that so often, just ain't fun? I know there are runners out there who talk about the runners' high, but it took me 3 1/2 years of running in the Army before I ever experienced a moment of that. How do we bring that to where most of us live? Here are a few ideas:
- Put it to music! I know I'm a broken record here (no pun intended); but music will motivate you when you want to quit and it will get your mind off the time. You can download music from itunes and if you need some song ideas; I've built up a great playlist from checking out the Time Life Music website. They give lists of songs on their collections and then I buy the songs from itunes! BRILLIANT!
- Switch it up! Don't do the same thing every day or every workout. Maybe do the eliptical one day, the treadmill another......then another day, the bike. We all have our favorite machines, but sometimes we just get good at that machine, rather than improving our overall fitness. Take those muscles out of their comfort zone!
- Don't do it all at once! Instead of doing 30 to 40 minutes straight of cardio, why not do 10 minute increment interspersed (is that a word?) with weights or machine work. For example...hop on the treadmill and really work it for 10 minutes, then hop off and do 3 sets of abs, don't rest!....then go back to the treadmill and do a high incline for 10 minutes....then back to sets for arms, back to treadmill....you get the idea. And you actually could switch it up in these increments!
- Get outside! You don't have to do all your cardio inside. Grab the opportunity on a warm day and get that cardio in outside. Go for an extra long walk, bike ride, jog, whatever you enjoy doing. Just do it with gusto!
I'd love to hear any ideas that you may have. How do you keep cardio fun so that you'll stay consistent with it?