We’re pretty sure the ’80s are to blame for the mindset that running, cycling, and high-impact, high-intensity movement are the only ways we can effectively lose weight. *Cue images of pastel leotards and clashing leg warmers on caffeine-loaded bodies bobbing around relentlessly.* But for some, the thought of cardio feels like a nightmare, and it kills the idea that workouts can be pleasant and even something we look forward to.
Luckily, we’ve reached an age in science and wellness that we can let that notion go. While the word “cardio” itself is short for cardiovascular activity, and we need to raise our heart rate in order to maintain heart health for longevity, the connotations with cardio are usually something along the lines of running, burpees, spin class … you get it. But those aren’t the only options for weight loss.
There are ways to lose weight without running ourselves ragged or doing the dreaded cardio training so many of us loathe. We’re big fans of low-impact training and other strategic modes to get the heart moving without stressing the mind. Here are a few ways to keep losing weight, even if cardio isn’t your thang.
Increase water intake
All cellular functions, including metabolic processes and detox, require adequate hydration. Proper elimination helps us to detoxify properly and pass waste with regularity to avoid bloat and prevent digestive stagnation. Plus, drinking water is an appetite suppressant.
Sauna and/or take hot baths
The heat from a sauna or hot bath promotes something called thermal stress, which induces caloric burn. There are even studies indicating that a hot bath can burn as many calories as exercise, and can even lower post-meal blood sugar.
Get enough sleep
Deep restorative rest, the kind you get when you clock 7-9 hours of sleep per night, is when the body repairs itself. When we slip completely out of the stress response modes we reside in most of our waking hours, our body can properly detoxify and get rid of what it doesn’t need. All this repair takes calories, too, which our body will utilize from our fat stores. Studies show that “better subjective sleep quality increases the likelihood of successful weight loss by 33%, as did sleeping more than 7 hours per night.”
Consume more protein
Not only does protein help to support the synthesis of lean muscle mass, but it keeps you full longer and takes more energy (energy = calories) to digest. Every meal and snack should contain at least some form of protein to fuel an active (sans copious cardio, of course) lifestyle.
Add more resistance (weight) training
While we might burn more calories from cardio than we do from lifting weights or adding higher resistance to other workouts (like leveling up the weights on your Pilates reformer or adding on ankle and wrist weights for mat circuits), we continue to burn calories for longer after the workout is over when it comes to weight training. Aka, we have a higher resting metabolic rate (RMR) from weight training than we do with cardio.
Of course, the tried and true way to lose weight is to have a slight calorie deficit, but we aren’t fans of starvation fads and we don’t think it’s smart to fast all the time. Intermittent fasting is a good medium to achieve similar results. Pay attention to your body’s cycles and rhythms, and try pushing back breakfast to later and pulling back dinner to earlier when it feels right. You won’t feel good doing this if you’re about to start or are on your period, for example. Do it during those times of the month that cravings and hunger aren’t in control.
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