Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Not Losing ANY Weight at the Gym? GET OFF THE ELLIPTICAL!

When I was in college at Fayetteville I would go to the HYPER (the university's gym), get on the elliptical and watch E! News. 30 minutes later the machine told I burned 500 calories so I left. This went on for a really long time... like the whole time I was in college. 

Evidence that the elliptical calorie counter LIED to me!

It wasn't until after college that I joined a gym that offered classes. The only class that fit into my schedule was a "Body Sculpt" class, so I gave it a try. Basically we lifted hand weights the whole hour and did spurts of cardio in between (high knees, jumping jacks, burpees, etc.). It was not until I started this class and doing intervals that the weight DROPPED. And I mean DROPPED. 

This was 4 months later. 

Pa-leeeeaaaasssssseeee tell me you see the difference?!?!

Anyway, the point of this post is to "encourage" you to say BYE BYE to those stationary machines: bike, elliptical, stair master, treadmill, etc.

Besides the fact that you will work out SO much harder with me.... (Let's be honest: are you really going to push yourself to the breaking point on the elliptical? If you start going too fast on the treadmill you won't be able to read the closed captioning on Real Housewives!)

OKAY, I'm distracted again. Back to the point of this post. Every time I am at the gym I see someone doing this. I laugh. Really. Mostly because I've been there. Are you guilty of frequenting the stationary machine....? What about holding on WHILE on the stationary machine? You know you do it. I did. 

are you holding on? got an excuse ready?! let's hear it!

  • If you think: "I’ll fall off if I let go!" 
    Then: SLOW DOWN.
  • If you think: "My trainer says it’s OK." I once asked a trainer why he allowed his able-bodied client to hold on, despite three weeks of training. His response: "She’s scared."
    Then: Get a new trainer. That one sucks. Beware of trainers who fail to empower you. 
  • If you think: "I’ll lose my balance." 
    Then: Slow down and stop using your arms as anchors. Balancing is part of exercise.
  • If you think: "I’ve always done it this way."
    Then: It’s never too late to break a sabotaging habit.
  • If you think: "My doctor told me to do it." 
    Then: Shame on him or her for not telling you that holding on increases blood pressure and causes poor posture.
  • If you think: "The machine keeps telling me to hold on for heart rate." 
    Then: Select another program. Hold on for heart rate, but then let go after the number appears!
  • If you think: "But I’m sweating!"
    Then: Many variables affect sweat: room ventilation, weight, body chemistry, even mental state.
  • If you think: "I’m old!" 
    Then: If ever there were a reason NOT to hold on, this is it!

IF you are going to do a machine, choose the treadmill. But back up and slow down! 

Onto what we really care about: the calories. 

1. Inaccurate Calorie Counters:

A recent study named the elliptical trainer the least accurate when it comes to calorie counting, with most machines overestimating your burn by 42 percent, says Jay Cardiello, SHAPE fitness editor-at-large. 
Why are elliptical machines so off base? Unlike treadmills, which can closely replicate your normal gait, the movement of the elliptical is not a natural motion, Cardiello says. Ellipticals also vary from manufacturer to manufacturer in terms of the range of motion, so a 'standard' just is not feasible. Plus, while using the arm levers (handles) will increase your heart rate, your arms don't weigh a lot compared to your hips, butt, and leg muscles, says Michele Olson, Ph.D., professor of exercise physiology at Auburn University. "So don't confuse a pronounced increase in heart rate from more arm movement to mean a pronounced increase in calories expended."

2. Stair-master: Cheating Yourself by Leaning 

Leaning over the console while taking super-short, quick strides instead of using their full range of motion. What's so bad about that? Leaning forward can decrease your total calorie burn by as much as 50 percent.

3. Treadmill: Still Losing
Good news for treadmill fans: Experts agree that the calorie counter is pretty accurate, IF you input your weight and don't use the handrails. The problem is that many treadmills don't ask for your weight and use a reference of about 155 lbs. That means if you weigh 135 lbs, you're really burning about 15 percent fewer calories than the machine says (300 calories vs. 255 calories, for example).
Relying on the handrails—especially during higher inclines or while running at high speeds—can throw off your reading by as much as 40 percent (that 300 calories burned just became 180). And we're not just talking about the people who pull themselves up a hill for 20 minutes. Placing even just a slight amount of weight on the support rails can decrease the actual calories burned by 20 percent (or more).

The other night at dinner a friend of a friend was telling me how she had 20lbs of baby fat to lose and she was VERY frustrated (she ordered a HUGE plate of nachos, which is her first problem!). She went on to tell me how she went to the gym four times a week and either did the elliptical or treadmill for 45 minutes. I don't think she was asking for advice, just venting, so I kept my mouth shut. I really think she just didn't know WHAT to do. So if you are reading this and fall into the same category as her: you're going to the gym, but not seeing any results on the scale or in your closet.... GET OFF THE ELLIPTICAL! 

If you don't have a body sculpt or bootcamp class near you, YouTube is your friend. Seriously. Type in "interval workout" or go buy Jillian Michael's latest DVD. You have to get your heart rate so high you think you're going to vomit (you get big bonus points in my book if you puke and CONTINUE to workout!!!), then stop and do some sort of strength training: squats, sit ups, push ups, swing your 1 year old around in the air for two minutes. 

Thanks for stopping by today! 

P.S. I have gotten several emails from people in OTHER STATES asking about interval workouts and "how to" do them. I'll post on that topic soon.


  1. I really needed to read this! Tomorrow starts a new workout without elliptical in the line up.