Confessions Of A Recovering Yo-Yo Dieter: Cardio Is Hardio

I’d love to say that I’m one of those women who doesn’t bother with worrying about her weight. One of those women who has it all sorted out and who doesn’t waste time or energy on such banalities. I’d love to say I’m a woman who loves my body solely for it’s capabilities and views my soft edges and C-section scar with fierce pride.

Instead, I’m going to tell you guys the truth: That ever since my body has carried, delivered, and nourished two humans, since my body turned 30, and since I discovered the taste of wine, I have become a woman who is, at any given point in time, trying to lose anywhere from five to fifteen pounds.

What a snooze.

What a tired, cliche’d story.

I hate to admit it, but the truth is that my relationship with my body has been a bit of a bumpy ride since I first gave birth 8 years ago. There’s been ups. There’s been downs. I’ve worn a bikini proudly after Baby #1, but I’ve also stood in front of my bathroom mirror after Baby #2, surveying the damage and crying hot tears that dripped all the way down to my obliterated waistline.

For most of my life up til then I’d gotten away with eating carelessly and my body remained naturally thin. Unfortunately this fostered terrible habits and little self-control, so when my metabolism began to change, instead of helping to fuel it, I foolishly damaged it further. I would yo-yo between throwing caution to the wind and eating whatever I wanted, and extreme restrictions that made me miserable. I foolishly often didn’t eat enough calories, thinking I was doing the “healthy” thing when really I was putting my body into starvation mode.

I also did cardio like a maniac.

I used to love cardio. I always preferred an intense cardio session where I could really sweat it out as opposed to, say, a yoga session- which everyone knows is just rolling around on the ground. I mean, Who has time for that? I’m a busy lady. I need to get in, work hard, and get out so I can move on with my day.

For years I would march like a zombie to the same cardio machines at my gym, grind out a 30 or 45 minute workout and leave. I would make myself miserable between cutting carbs and boring workouts until I would finally get thin enough that all my soft bits didn’t fold over onto each other. It would last for a few months until I remembered how much I loved good food. Then I would slowly, inexorably begin my descent into those extra ten pounds. Okay fine, fifteen. No need to split hairs, here.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

Finally I decided it was time for a different approach. After all, the very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. By the way, don’t fact-check that definition. It’s just something I heard. 

I enlisted the help of a friend who knows what she’s doing, I got over my fear of trying something hard, and I crossed over to the dark side of the gym: the weight lifting side.

Now, I can’t lie, I felt very out-of-place at first. I felt like every person there was probably laughing at me while I fumbled with moves that felt totally foreign to me. I felt awkward and weak. I felt like giving up a few times in the beginning. Incidentally, none of the other people were actually laughing at me. They were all too busy watching themselves in the mirror. This was fine, actually. It was better.

After a few weeks I was surprised to find I actually liked it. I liked it a lot. This whole time I’d been operating under the impression that I loved cardio and hated weights but it turns out I’d just never really tried it. Who knew.

I still have a lot to learn but I’ve also come a long way since my first venture to the dark side. I am making progress. My body composition is changing. I have a few muscles now. I am building a butt. I can push and pull and lift heavy things. I feel strong.

That is, I feel strong until I do cardio again. Right now I am lifting weights 5 times a week and doing cardio 3-4 times a week and it never fails that two minutes into my twenty-five minute circuit I want to literally die.

Cardio is hardio.

Why did I ever like it? What a dumb-dumb.

The cardio machines constantly ridicule me with their passive-aggressive reminders to “Pedal Faster” or “Keep Pace”, to which I silently reply with “Screw you!” and “Don’t boss me!” but like a lemming I do it anyway.

Because it turns out I can do hard things.

Who knew.

Tomorrow we’ll be talking carbs and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are carbs the enemy? Or are they a precious gift from the Sweet Baby Jesus? Clearly from my description I  have no bias…

Stay tuned.


image* This is Day 11 of a 31 Day series on Keeping It Real. You can find all of the posts in this series here I hope you follow along and join the conversation! *

One thought on “Confessions Of A Recovering Yo-Yo Dieter: Cardio Is Hardio

  1. Constance Shannon

    You are one excellent writer Amber. I am sitting here smiling and relating even at 61 years old.

    The part that made me laugh was about people watching themselves in the mirror. I’ve seen it time and again & it’s such a turn off.

    Looking forward to your blog on carbs!

    Oh & the waxing was hilarious!

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