Are You Doing Too Much Cardio?

For many of us, exercise is synonymous with cardio. Want to lose weight? Get in shape? Boost your heart health? You better pound the pavement. Or cycle the calories away. Get your heart rate up, sweat it out… you know the drill.

“Cardiovascular exercise is one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of disease and death, improve energy and well-being, and help perform activities of daily living with ease,” says exercise physiologist Kristen M. Lagally, Ph.D., professor of kinesiology at Illinois State University.

After all, cardio has long been known to reduce the risk of heart disease—the number-one cause of death in the United States. And, 2017 research published in Cell Metabolism even found that performing high-intensity cardio intervals slows aging at the cellular level. More than that, in one British Journal of Sports Medicine study, researchers even found that a twice-weekly cardio routine increased the size of the hippocampus, the region of the brain responsible for memory and learning, in women.

Heart healthy, brain-boosting, and anti-aging? Sounds great. But before you commit to cardio, cardio, cardio, know that more isn’t necessarily better.

Too Much of a Good Thing?

In a study of more than 5,000 healthy joggers and sedentary adults done by Journal of the American College of Cardiology, researchers found that jogging one to 2.4 hours per week was associated with the lowest risk of death. But as jogging times increased from there, so did the risk of death—with strenuous exercisers having a mortality rate on par with adults who didn’t exercise at all.

What gives? Like all forms of exercise, cardio stresses the body to force it to adapt and come back stronger, Lagally says. Work out too much, though, and you break it down without giving it a real chance to build itself back up.

Here are three main reasons doing too much cardio can backfire—as well as ways to get your routine on the right track.

Related: Find your supplement soulmate for your protein and fitness needs.

It Sabotages Muscle-Building

In one Obesity study of 10,500 men, cardio came up short in preventing abdominal weight gain. Why? Because unlike strength training (which proved to be far more beneficial at fighting belly fat), cardio didn’t significantly increase participants’ levels of lean, metabolism-revving muscle, according to the researchers. While strength training burns calories while promoting an increase in muscle mass, cardio can actually burn calories from that muscle mass.

“When you’re young, avoiding muscle-building exercises and performing strictly cardio may not result in significantly noticeable problems,” Lagally says. But over time, it can exacerbate sarcopenia, the natural loss of muscle that occurs with age (and can start as early as 30 or 40) and limit your ability to perform everyday tasks.

What’s more, that muscle loss can also cause your basal metabolic rate—the number of calories that you burn just being alive—to decline. It’s the perfect storm for weight gain.

Related: Exactly What To Eat To Build Muscle

What To Do About It:
Keep track of your muscle mass by regularly stepping on a bathroom scale that calculates your body fat percentage, recommends San Diego bariatric surgeon Julie Ellner, M.D. The goal is to never lose muscle. If you lose weight while your body fat percentage stays the same or increases, that means you need to up your muscle-building game. No matter how much you love cardio, schedule at least two days per week of strength-focused exercise.

It Makes You Eat (Or Think You Can Eat) Everything

Research goes back and forth on whether exercise increases or decreases appetite, especially in women. But as anyone who has ever trained for a marathon can attest, if you do enough cardio, at some point you are going to wind up ravenous. Unfortunately, many cardio bunnies overestimate the number of calories they burn during their workouts, leading them to over-consume calories later—which leads to gain weight instead of loss.

What To Do About It:
Keep your eyes off of your cardio machine’s display. When researchers at the University of California at San Francisco’s Human Performance Center tested the calorie-counting accuracy of various machines, it found that the treadmill overestimated caloric burn by an average of 13 percent while the elliptical overestimated by a full 42 percent.

Instead of worrying about how many calories you cardio burns—and how many calories you should eat as a result—Ellner recommends focusing on eating according to your hunger cues. Even if your workout does rev your hunger a bit, that’s OK. Your body knows what it needs to best recover from your cardio sessions. Eat when you are slightly hungry and stop when you are slightly satisfied.

Related: 5 Myths About Your Metabolism—Busted

It Overstresses Your Body

“With cardio, adequate recovery is key,” Lagally says. “Without it, you increase your risk of overtraining syndrome, which can include regular and continued soreness, overuse injuries like stress fractures, reductions in performance in spite of continued training, a sense that their regular exercise sessions feel more difficult than normal, repeated illnesses, or changes in GI tract function.” Anything sound familiar?

What To Do About It:
Pay attention to your mood—it often shows symptoms of overtraining far earlier than your body does. If you notice that you have a persistently blue or irritable mood, or just don’t feel as into your workouts as usual, that may be your body telling you to dial things back.

Lagally recommends taking one or more days off from your typical cardio routine, cutting the intensity or duration of your sessions, or replacing one of your weekly cardio workouts with some cross-training.

“It can be difficult for those who rely on cardio, or specific modes of cardio like running, to cut back,” Lagally says. “But in the end, making changes in frequency, mode, duration, and intensity to allow for greater recovery will ultimately improve performance, caloric expenditure, and reduce the risk of overtraining issues.” So, to break out of a rut, you’ll also have to break out of your go, go, go routine.

Related: 4 Possible Reasons Why You’re Feeling Wrecked Days After A Workout

5 Moves That Torch Major Calories

No one heads into the gym thinking, “how few calories can I burn today?” Nope, we want the maximum burn from every rep and bead of sweat.

To make that happen, you have to tune into two important exercise factors: the number of muscle fibers used and the intensity to which you work them, says Gavin McHale, a Winnipeg-based kinesiologist and certified exercise physiologist. After all, calories are nothing more than energy. So, if you work more muscles, and work them hard, you are going to churn through more energy.

Even better, exercise intensity is the main driver of excess post-exercise oxygen consumption, or EPOC. Commonly called “the after-burn,” EPOC refers to the number of calories you burn after you leave the gym as your body works to recover by lowering your body temperature, repairing muscles, and flushing metabolic byproducts from your system.

These five exercises are the perfect combination of both muscle recruitment and intensity, helping you to burn the max number of calories possible. That said, we don’t recommend performing them all in a row. They are all doozies on their own, so packing them all into one workout could wipe you out more than we want—and potentially lead to injury, says McHale.

Instead, try integrating one or two of these moves into each of your workouts. Ideally, you should perform them near the beginning of your workout, after your warm up, when your muscles are fresh and you’re ready to hit it hard.

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1. Kettlebell Swing

“Kettlebell swings are one of the best bang-for-your-buck exercises,” McHale says. “A perfect combination of strength and cardio, these will fry anyone’s posterior chain [think glutes, hammies, and lowback] and lungs when done correctly.” According to research from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, a high-intensity kettlebell workout can burn up to 20.2 calories per minute—that’s roughly the equivalent of running a ridiculously fast six-minute mile.

Instructions: Stand tall with your feet shoulder-width apart and grab a kettlebell with your palms facing into your body. From here, push your hips back and bend your knees just slightly (most people bent their knees too much; this is not a squat) so that the kettlebell swings back behind your legs. Immediately squeeze your glutes and thrust your hips forward to stand up, sending the kettlebell directly in front of your chest until the handles parallel to the floor.

Get more burn: Swing the kettlebell using your glutes, not your arms. Choose a weight that allows you to perform 12 to 25 reps with proper form, McHale says. As soon as you catch your breath, start your next set. Perform two to four sets.

Related: 5 Moves Every Gym Newbie Should Master

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2. Turkish Get-Up

Another kettlebell staple, this exercise burns a ridiculous amount of calories because it literally works every muscle in your body, McHale says. And, for an exercise that’s just “getting up off of the floor,” it’s incredibly taxing.

Instructions: Lie flat on your back on the floor and hold a kettlebell by the handle with your right hand. Fully extend your arm toward the ceiling so the kettlebell is directly over your shoulder. Bend your right knee to place your right foot flat on the floor.

From here, lift your torso up onto your left elbow and then onto your left hand, your right shoulder pushing up off of the floor. Lift your hips off of the floor so that your body forms a straight line from left foot to right shoulder, and then swing your left leg under your body.

Raise your torso that it is vertical, the kettlebell still over your right shoulder, and you are in a half-kneeling position. Extend your legs to step your rear leg forward. Reverse the movement to return to start.

Confused? Check out this video: 

Get more burn: Get the exercise steps down pat (this one is complicated!) before introducing the kettlebell. Then, it’s time to go heavy with the weight (not so heavy that you risk dropping it on your head) and perform two to four sets of two to four reps per side, McHale suggests.

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3. Pull-Up

Kettlebells are great. But sometimes, your own body weight is all you need to torch calories. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that pull-ups burn an average of 9.95 calories per minute (granted you perform 10 reps in a minute). By using your own body weight, the pull-up hammers your lats (the largest muscle group in your upper body)along with your shoulders, biceps, and core, for a nice caloric burn. “Also, having the arms in an overhead position ramps up the heart rate, which is great if you’re hoping to burn calories, McHale says.

Instructions: Stand in front of pull-up bar, and grab the bar with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Brace your core like you are about to get punched in the gut, then pull your shoulder blades together and bend your elbows to pull your body up to the bar. When your collarbones reach the bar, pause, then slowly reverse the movement to return to start.

Get more burn: A lot of exercisers can’t do multiple (or even a single) unassisted pull-ups. If that’s you, don’t worry; the less skilled your body is at a certain move, the more calories you’ll burn with each rep. Try performing pull-ups (aim for three sets of 10 reps) using an assisted pull-up machine, or with an exercise band wrapped around the bar and strung around your knees. Just don’t “drop” on the eccentric portion. Lower back down to the starting position slowly for an increased burn.

Related: The Right Way To Do A Lat Pulldown

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4. Conventional Deadlift

“Because you can load these up with weight and they require input from so many major and meaty muscle groups, deadlifts are an excellent way to burn more calories both during and after a workout,” McHale says. Expect to feel the burn through your glutes, lats, quads, hamstrings, and core.

Instructions: Stand in front of a loaded barbell with your feet hip-width apart. Push your hips back and slightly bend your knees to grab the bar with your hands spaced shoulder-width apart, palms facing your body. (You can also use an alternated grip, one palm facing your body and the other facing away from you.) Your arms should be fully extended, shoulders slightly in front of the bar, with the bar about an inch from your shins. From here, keep your lats tight, thrust your hips forward and straighten your knees until you are fully standing and your hips are extended in front of the rest of your body. The bar should nearly scrape your body throughout the entire movement, and it should hang against the front of your thighs at the top of the movement. Pause, then reverse the movement, making sure not to round your back, to return to start.

Get more burn: Perform three to five sets of three to 10 reps, using an amount of weight that allows you to just eek out your last rep with proper form, McHale says. If you’re using a heavy weight for six or fewer reps, you can rest up to two minutes. Otherwise, keep the rest short, between 30 and 90 seconds.

Related: Shop a variety of performance supplements to fuel your best workouts.

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5. Squat to Press

This move recruits major muscle groups throughout your lower and upper body for the greatest calorie-torching potential, he says. Meanwhile, by including a healthy dose of explosive power, it gives your heart rate a swift kick in the butt.

Instructions: Grab a racked barbell with a grip that’s slightly wider than shoulder-width. Position the barbell on the front your shoulders with elbows pointing straight out in front of you and your upper arms parallel to the floor. Bend your hips and knees to lower into a full squat, keeping the bar in line with the center of your feet. Once you reach the bottom of the squat, immediately reverse the movement. As you do so, rotate your arms so that your elbows point toward the floor. Press the bar overhead. Once you reach a full standing position, your arms should be extended straight overhead with the barbell just behind your ears. Lower the bar to your shoulders, then either repeat or return the bar to the power rack for rest.

Get more burn: Start by taking a quick 15- to 30-second break between reps. Then slowly reduce the rest periods until you move immediately from one rep to the next without rest. Perform three to five sets of five to eight reps.

 

 

15 Bodyweight Exercises That Show Major Results

When it comes to torching calories and strengthening those muscles, hitting the weights isn’t your only option. You can do these 15 bodyweight exercises just about anywhere for an equipment-free sweat. We’ll take our burn to-go, please!

Related: Find the performance supp that’ll give your next workout just the boost it needs.

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What Going Gluten-Free Can And Can’t Do For Your Health

Mention gluten, and everyone has an opinion. One in four Americans believe that going gluten-free is the right health move,. But only a quarter cite disease or gluten sensitivity as the main reason they nixed it from their diets, per data from The NPD Group.

On the other hand, a number of dieters promoting healthy carbs, including those that contain (you guessed it!) gluten, have been pushing back against the trend.

So what’s the bottom line? Consider this the no-nonsense down-low on gluten—and whether or not it belongs on your plate.

Gluten, Decoded

Gluten is a combination of two proteins, gliadin and glutenin. Naturally present in wheat, barley, and rye, gluten breaks down into amino acids in the body’s small intestine, courtesy of specialized digestive enzymes in our body, explains Kendra Perkey, M.S., R.D.

Unless you have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, that is.

Affecting less than one percent of the U.S. population, according to a consensus statement from the National Institutes of Health, celiac disease is a condition in which the immune system responds abnormally to gluten, explains Shaista Safder, M.D., gastroenterologist at the Arnold Palmer Hospital Center for Digestive Health and Nutrition. Over time, the immune system’s ‘attack’ response damages the lining of the small intestine and results in an inability to absorb necessary nutrients. Physicians typically diagnose celiac disease through two steps: blood work and a subsequent biopsy of the small intestine.

In non-celiac gluten sensitivities, people often report stomach upset, brain fog, and/or fatigue, symptoms they say are improved by going GF, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. It remains unclear as to what these issues refer to, but there seems to be a strong link between this non-celiac intolerance and other gastrointestinal issues, like irritable bowel syndrome, says Safder.

There is no test for identifying gluten sensitivities, and many cases are self-diagnosed or identified after monitoring how cutting gluten affects symptoms.

What A Gluten-Free Diet Might Actually Look Like

Going G-free isn’t as simple as saying see-ya to all things wheat. As with any eating protocol that involves eliminating certain foods, going whatever-free doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to be or feel healthier. After all, every time you remove something from your plate, you have to replace it with something else. In this case, what you replace gluten with truly matters. Are you swapping it with whole foods or processed ones?

A diet that’s naturally gluten-free will include fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains (quinoa, sorghum, rice, millet, buckwheat, and teff are all GF), dairy, lean meats, and healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, and seeds.

The issue is that there are so many gluten-free foods that are processed, which means you’re still not getting the nutrition you need. Read: a gluten-free cookie is still a cookie.

Related: Browse spices, oils, and ingredients to whip up wholesome, healthy meals at home. 

When Going Gluten-Free Can Set You Free

For people with celiac disease, a strict gluten-free diet can radically improve health and quality of life—if not be altogether lifesaving. “It’s like someone who’s allergic to peanuts cutting all peanut-containing foods from their diet,” explains Bonnie Taub-Dix, R.D.N., founder of Better Than Dieting and author of Read It Before You Eat It. They can’t just reduce their intake —they need to eliminate peanuts (or gluten) completely.

Others who do not have celiac disease claim to feel better on a GF diet, reporting reductions in diarrhea, constipation, and/or bloating. Some say they have more energy. In fact, Safder notes that up to 25 percent of people with IBS report clinical improvement of symptoms after cutting gluten from their diet.

What’s more, a whole food-focused gluten-free diet just so happens to be low in FODMAPs (a variety of fermentable short-chain carbohydrates that cause stomach issues in some people), which are found in wheat, rye, and many packaged food additives, she says. Bonus points: People following a naturally gluten-free diet often wind up cutting out a lot of sugar-laced, processed foods.

Related: 10 Possible Reasons Why You’re Suddenly So Bloated

When Nixing Gluten Can Actually Hurt Your Health

“There are no real benefits to avoiding gluten when you do not have issues with gluten,” Perkey says. She notes that while many fad and elimination diets have labeled gluten, or grains in general, as “bad,” there is nothing intrinsically wrong with gluten.

What’s more, because wheat (the main source of gluten in the average American’s diet) contains fiber, iron, zinc, folate, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B12, magnesium, and phosphorus, you may end up falling short on these nutrients by nixing gluten, says Taub-Dix, who explains that substitutes for wheat, such as rice, contain significantly less of them.

Because gluten is what gives baked goods and pastas their fluffy, springy texture, many gluten-free food products have to compensate by adding extra sugar, fat, and even food additives to improve their taste, says Perkey. They could even be higher in calories than their gluten-containing counterparts, she adds.

Though many people cut gluten for weight-loss purposes, a gluten-free diet is not a weight-loss diet, and may even have the opposite effect. A review published in the Journal of Medicinal Food suggests that celiac disease patients following a gluten-free diet may actually have an increased risk for becoming overweight.

Related: How To Eat Carbs And Still Lose Weight

Even more troubling: 2017 research from the University of Illinois at Chicago found that 73 self-reported gluten-free dieters had elevated urine arsenic levels and blood mercury levels. The study authors speculate this may be due to a possible increase in rice consumption when on a GF diet.

According to the FDA, rice is a leading dietary source of inorganic arsenic because it more readily absorbs arsenic contained in the soil than do other crops. “While the effects of higher arsenic levels are not known, it is something to consider,” Perkey says.

To Gluten Or Not To Gluten?

“If you are thinking about trying a gluten-free diet, ask your doctor if it’s a good choice for you,” Safder says. “It’s true that a gluten-free diet can be healthy. But it can also keep people from getting all of the nutrition they need.”

If you and your doctor decide that a GF eating strategy is right for you, it’s best to cut gluten out under the supervision of a registered dietitian who can make sure that your new diet is a healthy one.

Let’s Set The Record Straight About Fasted Cardio

Breaking a sweat on an empty stomach has long been touted as an effective approach toward fat loss. You may have even endured a hungry early-morning treadmill session in the name of a better burn.

The laymen’s theory is that when you exercise without food in your system your body has to burn fat for fuel.  Easy peasy, right?

Not exactly. According to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, fasted cardio may just be a hunger-inducing waste of time.

Related: Are You Making This Crucial Breakfast Mistake?

The study had 20 healthy, college-age volunteers perform one hour of steady-state, moderate-intensity exercise (they jogged on the treadmill) three mornings per week for four weeks—that’s 12 workouts total. All participants followed a specific diet plan throughout the four weeks, but 10 of the volunteers received a meal-replacement shake right before their workout while the other 10 worked out without having eaten since the night before.

There was no significant difference between the weight lost by the fasted cardio folks and those that drank a shake pre-workout, indicating that there’s no significant benefit to doing cardio when your tank is on empty, says study author Brad Schoenfeld, Ph.D., C.S.C.S.*D, Director of the Human Performance Lab at CUNY Lehman College.

The misunderstanding around fasted cardio started decades ago, when there were just a few short-term studies—researchers tested subjects for just a workout or two—that suggested fasted cardio burned more fat, according to Schoenfeld.

The logic made sense: When you perform cardio exercise after hours without food (in the early morning, for example) your body relies on fat to fuel you. So over time, you’ll lose more fat—right? Thing is, when you do eventually eat again, your body uses that food to replace the stored fuel it just lost, according to Schoenfeld. Which is why when researchers broadened the period of time they studied their subjects it became clear that fasted cardio wasn’t as effective as they thought. “Fat loss takes place over days, weeks, and months, not just in the minutes on the treadmill,” says Schoenfeld.

Related: 5 Treadmill Workouts That’ll Make The Time Fly By

That’s why the best strategy for fat loss is to eat fewer calories than you expend (maintaining what’s called a ‘caloric deficit’), he says. Schoenfeld suspects that it was the extended 1200- to 1300-calorie diet plan his study participants followed which led to their fat loss.

It may have no real benefit, but is it bad for you? Well, that depends on the type of cardio you’re doing. You might get through moderate steady-state cardio a-okay, because your body can steadily oxidize your body’s fat and use it for fuel. But if you’re doing high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or strenuous lifting, your body can’t rely on your fat stores because fat cannot be utilized quickly enough to produce sufficient fuel for your muscles, according to Schoenfeld. Instead, your body needs to rely on fast fuel sources, like carbs and sugars, to keep you going, Schoenfeld explains. So if you haven’t eaten in a while—like, say, since last night—you’ll likely see a negative effect on your performance.

Related: Find the performance supplement that’s perfect for your workout grind.

Next time you hit the gym, try an easy-to-digest snack, like a banana or a scoop of protein in your shaker cup.

3 People Share How They Dropped Over 60 Pounds—And Kept It Off

No matter how much weight you’re trying to lose or how drastically you’re looking to change your relationship with food, getting fit is a journey unique to each of us. And while some people have great success with simply revamping their diets or working out more often, others need a total lifestyle overhaul. However you go about it, one thing’s for certain: Hearing about other people’s transformations is inspirational and encouraging.

These three people lost weight through totally different strategies, and they all overcame a variety of obstacles along the way. Collectively, they have lost a total of 274 pounds through food and lifestyle changes. From journaling and consistent exercise to dietary switches and mindset tweaks, they accomplished their goals in ways that worked for them.

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Emily Woolf, 34
125 Pounds Lost

Eight years ago, after my first daughter was born, I was devastated and ashamed when the scale read 280 pounds. It was the heaviest I had ever been. I went on to have two more healthy girls, but with each pregnancy came complications leading to bed rest and more weight gain.

It took me a long time to figure it out, but the diets I had tried (and I tried all of them) weren’t sustainable. For me, the only path to long-term weight loss was through a drastic change in my lifestyle.

Defining a lifestyle goal, not a weight goal, became a powerful tool for me. Looking a certain way or being a particular size was not enough to motivate me to stay on track.

One day, I erased the arbitrary weight goal I’d written on my mirror and replaced it with the words: Show the girls how to see their body as a powerful tool for living an active life. Model a healthy relationship with food and show them that food is fuel to power the body to run, jump, spin, and engage in the world around us.

This new goal helped me find the drive to stay on track and prioritize healthy choices. By teaching my girls about the value of food as fuel, I was also able to determine if what I was eating was fuel for my body or something else, like boredom or comfort.

Becoming more intentional about my food choices led to a 20-pound weight loss. Feeling empowered by this loss (and consequently having more energy from a body that was now functioning on fuel rather than sugar), I focused on adding in 30-60 minutes of activity, three days a week.

Becoming more intentional about my food choices led to a 20-pound weight loss. Feeling empowered by this loss, I focused on adding in 30-60 minutes of activity, three days a week.

It wasn’t long before these changes became a habit and I found myself looking forward to fitting in physical activity five days a week. There were plenty of plateaus and it took a little over a year to get to where I am now, but always staying focused on my goals eventually led to a 125-pound loss and a feeling of confidence and strength that had been absent from my daily life for so long.

By rooting my goals in something personal, I have been able to stay motivated and change my health and quality of life for good.

Related: How I Quit Dieting And Finally Stopped My Weight From Fluctuating

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Gregg Johnson, 61
84 Pounds Lost

A couple of years ago, my scale topped out at 360 pounds, and I knew it was finally time to get fit for good. I also realized that if I wanted to stay active and healthy as I got older, I was going to have to get back in shape. Friends my age were becoming more sedentary and I didn’t want to go that route.

So I got a personal trainer and told him I wanted to lose weight, and that I wanted to be stronger at 70 than I was at 59. We started slowly, but stayed consistent. At the same time, I was also working with an endocrinologist who suggested chaining my macros in terms of fat, protein, and carbs.

My fasting blood sugar was 102-107, and while I was not considered diabetic, my insulin levels were consistently high. So I moved to a 60 percent fat, 25 percent protein, and 15 percent carbohydrate macro profile, and began to log my food and calorie burn in order to see what worked, what didn’t, and what needed to change.

I continued to hit the gym three times a week, rotating HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and strength work and then adding in agility, balance, and speed work. I also incorporated exogenous ketones and a modified ketogenic diet rotating through phases of ketosis with carb reloading phases.

I continued to hit the gym three times a week, rotating HIIT and strength work and then adding in agility, balance, and speed work.

A little over three years later, I had lost 75 plus pounds, while adding about 22 pounds of muscle mass. I would still like to lose another 30-40 pounds, but I recognize this is a process and I’m not worried about how long it might take me to get there. I am faster, stronger, and more mobile, flexible, and active than I’ve been in years, and that is all that matters.

Related: Shop weight-management products to help you stay on track.

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Helen Dean, 51
65 Pounds Lost

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been riding horses. It’s been my lifelong passion. But about five years ago, I gained a considerable amount of weight and it became harder for me to get into the saddle. Riding for just a few hours made my back, knees, and bum ache.

I started swimming at the YMCA hoping that the added activity would help with my blood pressure and ultimately relieve the pain I felt, yet while it did help with lowering and managing my blood pressure, I could never seem to lose any of the weight.

Frustrated with feeling physically broken every time I rode my horse, and tired of not losing any weight from swimming, I decided to start eating healthy. I thought about the weight I’d gained from bad eating habits and said to myself: “I’m no longer going to allow something as trivial as unhealthy eating stop me from doing what I love.”

When the chance to join and participate in the Weight Watchers at Work program at my workplace came up, I took it and never looked back. Their new program—which has a focus on the whole self and not just your weight—has worked perfectly for me.

I said to myself: ‘I’m no longer going to allow something as trivial as unhealthy eating stop me from doing what I love.’

The combination of eating healthy (managing my caloric intake by using the Weight Watchers point system) and exercising regularly has changed my life forever. I’ve lost 65 pounds so far, and I’m still going for more.

Even though my journey is still a work in progress, I know I’m going to meet my goal this time and keep the weight off. Something I know my horse certainly appreciates!