I ditched “steady-state cardio” — those endless slogs of running for hours at the same pace — a long time ago… partially because I hated it (so boring!) but mostly because smart people told me that intervals and strength training were much better options for fat loss.
But before I got smarter about my training, I did a lot of steady-state cardio. I used to participate in triathlons, and I spent hours slogging my way back and forth in the pool and dragging my ass along the bike trail, on foot and on wheels, for training. Hours. And hours. All the while monitoring my “progress” on my heart rate monitor and the scale.
Those were dark days.
Anyway, now when I run, I only do intervals. Sometimes the intervals are more like sprints, sometimes they’re more like jogs — but the total sessions never last more than 30-35 minutes and the intervals themselves never go for more than three minutes. My heart rate bounces around like a drop of water in a super-hot skillet.
But even knowing what I know and doing what I do, I have to admit that sometimes, when I think about how I “need to get serious about losing the 15-20 pounds I gained during the thyroid-adrenal adventure,” the scared, emotional part of me wonders if I should be running or jogging or swimming or biking for extended periods of time, instead of the short bursts required by throwing around barbells and lifting weights faster.
My rational mind knows the smart move is intervals, heavy stuff, and walking. But Emotional Me is pretty lame sometimes. Emotional Me is all, like, Ohmygod. I should totally be running for 90 minutes every day to get thinner.
Then Rational Me tells Emotional Me to read this article: Why Women Should Not Run
Before you react to the title of the article, let me explain that it totally supports the idea of high-intensity interval training (HITT) while it deconstructs the dangerously entrenched idea that steady-state cardio is a good idea for women.
Here are two powerful quotes that are particularly relevant for (a) women with hypothyroidism and (b) women who want to lose excess body fat.
“Studies demonstrate beyond any doubt that in women, cardio chronically shuts down the production of the thyroid hormone T3.”
“Training consistently at 65 percent or more of your max heart rate adapts your body to save as much body fat as possible. After regular training, fat cells stop releasing fat the way they once did during moderate-intensity activities. Energy from body fat stores also decreases by 30 percent. To this end, your body sets into motion a series of reactions that make it difficult for muscle to burn fat at all. Instead of burning body fat, your body takes extraordinary measures to retain it.”
The article is supported by a lengthy list of references and does a nice job explaining the science without getting too technical and overwhelming. It’s just the right combo of common sense and science to give me the confidence to stick to my interval path.
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