Let’s talk cardio.
Are you a cardio junkie? Do you crave a good sweat and the sought-after “runners high”? Do you love the feeling of being soaked in sweat and out of breath? Or are you more of an “strength” athlete: lifting heavy weights and dreading the thought of having to spend time doing the mindless activity? Or maybe you’re somewhere in between? Needless to say, there are tons of feelings surrounding the dreaded (or beloved) cardio workout.
When I started going to the gym, I immediately gravitated toward the sea of machines that would allow me to burn the maximum amount of calories I possibly could. Who cared if I was miserable while burning 600 calories an hour, or sweating my a** off on the elliptical gloomily while wondering where everyone’s “post workout high” was coming from? At least I burned off the milkshake I had today, right?
Yeah, I was (you guessed it) wrong. Sadly, I had the mindset that so many gym goers fall into – that cardio is only there for the purpose of burning calories (and that the machines are the only way to do that). After a week of dragging myself onto the elliptical, my eyes boring into the blinking number of calories, I’d feel hungry, tired, and completely and utterly sick of the gym – leading to a weekend of way too much overindulging. This cycle repeated itself over and over and over, until I finally decided enough was enough.
As I began lifting weights and doing strength workouts, my body craved the feeling of lifting over cardio any day. This led me to completely quit doing cardio cold turkey – and believe me when I say I could not have been more relieved. Not forcing myself onto a machine every day was a sweet release, to say the least. I began to actually enjoy my workouts rather than dread them. And on the day I did start doing cardio again, my body loved it – because it was something I wanted to do, not forced myself to.
No longer do I feel chained to the elliptical at the gym – trying out new kinds of cardio made me feel liberated. Swimming in the morning makes my shoulders and arms feel powerful, while running as the sun sets makes my legs and lungs burn in the best way. Hiking allows me to appreciate the beauty of nature while breaking a sweat, and feeling the summer wind whip my cheeks while riding bikes at the beach is absolutely freeing.
There will always be people who enjoy doing machines at the gym – and if that’s you, then hey, more power to you. The bottom line is that no workout should ever feel like a punishment. Your body is an incredible vessel for your capabilities – and when you open your mind to the possibility that cardio is not only for burning off calories, a whole new world opens. It was only when I did cardio in forms that I genuinely enjoyed, and stopped worrying about calories, that I began to appreciate all the limits my body could push itself to – and that, to me, was beautiful.
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