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Body transformation week 4 – How to do cardio for weight loss

Olivia's transformation MAIN (2)

It’s week four of Olivia’s 12 week body transformation at Transition Zone and she has lost over 4 kilos and 4 per cent body fat

Welcome back to my transformation diary, it’s time to let you all know how I got on in week four (read all about week three here).

So this week I received my first comment about my weight loss, ‘I can see a difference in your body shape already Olivia,’ says my editor Anna Magee as I walk towards her. Then I got a second comment from, Sharon, another editor on the Healthista team. ‘Olivia you are looking really fit,’ she said. It was a sentence I thought I would never hear again.

Even my transformation PT Mark Stanton (@insidetrack_pt) and the founder of Transition Zone Claire Finlay have said that they can see a noticeable difference.

It’s not yet been a month and already people are seeing my results – what a confidence boost. In fact, I am starting to wear clothes that haven’t seen the light of day for months. I really am loving my new ‘shape’ however slight the change may be – wait – is that a hip bone? So good to see you again, welcome back.

Results at the end of week four

Olivia before and after side

Before End of week 1 End of week 2 End of week 3 End of week 4
Weight kg 68.9 67.4 66.3 65.5 64.8
Body fat % 27.0 25.8 24.2 24.6 23.2
Hips cm 107 107 104 105 104
Waist cm 77 75 74 73 71.5
Stomach cm 90 88 86 86 84
Thighs cm 56 55 54 55 54
Overall weight loss kg N/A 1.5 2.6 3.4 4.1

Time to switch things up

Just as I am getting into the routine of three weight training sessions a week, my Transition Zone personal trainer Mark Stanton says it’s time to switch things up. Apparently, the more you do something, the easier it becomes, not necessarily because it is easier but because you have become stronger and the human body is a master of adaptation. Whatever the body repeats, it will become efficient at.

When exercising you put stress on the body, and when recovering, your body improves its ability to handle that stress. Unfortunately after time, this will mean you burn fewer calories and build less calorie-burning muscle with every workout.

the human body is a master of adaptation

This is why we need to switch up our workouts every three to six weeks. In fact, studies support this, and show that workouts that challenge your body in new ways over time are the most beneficial in helping you to torch the calories.

The ‘switch it up’ plan for me was to start adding more cardio to my usual routine of three weight training sessions a week. I was to have one personal training session with Mark, focused on weights and then two fitness classes that included both strength and cardio elements.

This worried me and not just because I had flashbacks of not being able to breathe at the end of a HIIT class, but because weight training seems to be getting me the results I wanted, do I really need to add more cardio?

Mark was quick to squash my worries, ‘All activity is cardio Olivia. But not many people learn to lift heavy enough to be out of breath after 5-10 reps, that’s why its is advised that people do a from of exercise that does cause them to be out of breath, it’s good for us’.

Olivia's transformation SLIDER (1)
Personal trainer Mark Stanton and Olivia at Transition Zone

Cardio vs weight training

‘Weight training is ideal when wanting to transform the body because you can control the variables of how you stimulate the muscles, through heavier weights and time under tension [when you hold a weight, pulse or slowly come up, hence ‘under tension’]. This is what causes the body shape to change and encourages fat loss, while also burning calories,’ says Mark.

Cardio exercise however will further increase your cardiovascular fitness, which is vital for a healthy heart and lungs, as well as burning calories and encouraging fat loss.

The key thing about cardio and body transformations though is – don’t over-do it. That means don’t exhaust yourself on a treadmill or go to a HIIT class every single day of the week or you’ll only end up exhausted and too sore to do your essential weight training.

Cardio, added correctly will help burn fat and lead to quicker recovery times

If cardio is added to your programme correctly, it will not only help to burn fat and help transport blood around the body and muscles, but also the fitter you are the faster you are able to recover quicker and therefore be able to train harder. Mark explained that this is because the fitter you are the less damage you will cause to the muscles and body, as they are already adapted.

A mixture of weight training and cardio is what will help most women’s goals of weight loss and strength building. Even if your goal isn’t necessarily weight loss, adding cardio to your programme is a great way to have fun, keep it interesting and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Here are the cardio rules to stick to if weight loss is your goal:

Cardio Rule #1 Walk 15,000 steps a day

Walking is one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways to increase the amount of cardio you can include in your daily routine. In week one Mark and Transition Zone nutritionist Emma Bardwell asked me to make sure I was taking 15,000 steps daily, as part of my healthy lifestyle changes.

To do this I have been walking as much as possible, including a 50 minute lunch time walk and taking the stairs wherever possible (rather than an elevator or lift). It’s actually not that hard to clock up 15,000 steps daily, even though it might seem like a lot. I have also turned into one of those weirdos that stands up on the tube even though there are seats – every little helps. Of course, some days are better than others, here’s what FitBit has to say about my step count this week:

FitBit stats
FitBit step stats

Even though walking is low intensity, it still has many health benefits. Research published by the American Heart Association in 2013 tracked the heart health of 48,000 people over a period of six years.

It found that those who regularly took a brisk walk cut their risk of heart disease by 9.3 per cent, compared with just 4.5 per cent for those who favoured running. The study also found that walking was better at tackling high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

What’s more, The Stroke Association suggests that taking a 30 minute walk daily can lower your risk of strokes by as much as 27%. Get those walking shoes on asap folks.

If fat burn is what you’re after, walking is your friend. Just take a look at my FitBit results below and you will see, my walking sessions are almost 100 per cent fat burn zone. That’s a result.

fat burning walking

Lastly and perhaps most crucially, walking makes you feel better mentally. It never fails to clear my head and make me feel like I have more energy, even when I’m really tired. If you’re interested in finding out how to use walking to help combat depression and anxiety, read our amazing psychotherapist’s guide here.

Cardio Rule #2 Try one to two fitness classes a week

To be honest, when I first heard that it was time to add more cardio into the mix of my transformation schedule, my first thought was ‘please no running’. I automatically saw myself running 5k every other day which for me inevitably means shin splints. No thanks.

But Mark has said that he doesn’t want me running. ‘Running increases your risk of injury and puts stress on the joints, potentially causing inflammation if you aren’t used to it,’ he said, thank God.

So what higher intensity cardio should I be doing? Interval training and circuit training classes, Mark suggests. ‘Classes are a great and social way to incorporate cardio into your routine,’ says Transition Zone founder Claire Finlay.

As well as one-to-one personal training, Transition Zone offer a range of classes of just 6-8 people. These smaller classes ensure that clients get the results and personalised attention they want.

To add variety to my programme, I was booked in for two classes at Transition Zone, a TRX circuit class and a Power Plate class.

‘Performing a workout class a couple of times a week is a guaranteed way to keep your workouts varied,’ says Claire. ‘You never go into the same class and do the exact same thing as you did the day before.

‘Transition Zone instructors like to keep their classes varied from day to day, which not only mixes things up but is also vital to keeping things interesting’.

Katherine Transition Zone
Katherine Roberts-Hill, Transition Zone

The first class I tried was the TRX circuit class with Transition Zone’s Katherine Roberts-Hill who has worked as a fitness coach for over a decade, helping clients of all ages and abilities improve their fitness.

The 45 minute TRX circuit class at Transition Zone is a full body workout that uses not just TRX straps and your own body weight but other equipment around the gym too, such as battle ropes, medicine balls, dumbbells and kettle bells.

I went in feeling confident that I would be able to breeze through the class after weight training for three weeks. But just ten minutes in I realised I had been far too optimistic in my abilities – this class was tough. Fun and motivating but still I found it quite challenging.

It really was a full body workout out that included the perfect mix of cardio and strength training. My arms, legs and core were all feeling the burn and it was thirsty work, I had finished my bottle of water after only 20 minutes.

It was also nice to be exercising with others. During the TRX class I was so impressed with the other ladies who were working out, it motivated me to keep going even when I felt like collapsing on the floor.

Later on in the week it was time for my Power Plate class with Vesna Kochoska, an amateur boxing champion who has completed the Paris marathon and regularly competes in physique competitions – this lady clearly means business.

One of the first things Vesna said to me was, ‘Mark has told me to put you through your paces, so that’s what I am going to do’. Bring it on.

transtioion zone vesna
Vesna Kochoska, Transition Zone

For those who aren’t sure, a Power Plate is a vibrating platform, that can make the simplest exercises like squats and push ups far more challenging. The vibrating plate stimulates your muscles and causes them to contract multiple times per second. It sounds tough right? The good news though, is because of this you only need to workout for half the time, in fact the class is only 25 minutes but that is worth a 90 minute traditional workout, say the makers.

But you don’t just stand, squat or do push ups on the Power Plate. The class also incorporates a variety of training methods such as free weights, kettle bells, HIIT drills and even battle ropes. Because it was only a 25 minute class, every single second counted and there was no time for rest. Plus, it was SO much fun, really hard and sweaty but also super motivating.

Cardio Rule #3 Active recovery and stretching is a must

In addition to hitting your step count, remember to include some active recovery into your normal workout routine. This can include yoga, foam-rolling, meditating or just having a snooze. Active recovery is super important because it encompasses the recovery process and prevents the sort of stiffness that can lead to injuries.

Remember, the workout doesn’t end when you finish working out. You need to stretch properly.  Don’t just reach down and touch you toes or wobble on one leg for a few seconds. A proper warm-down, complete with stretches and foam-rolling is as essential a part of your workout as any other component. Try this stretching video from Healthista, if you’re unsure what to do.

Transition Zone, TRX

After my Power Plate class, I had a 30 minute stretching and mobility session with Claire, which is active recovery and stretching combined. During this session, Claire noticed that I am hypermobile, which is something Mark also noticed in the first week.

‘Hypermobility is a condition that means joints are able to easily move beyond the normal range that is normally expected for that particular joint,’ explains Claire. So basically if you are hypermobile your joints are more flexible than other people’s.

Hypermobile joints tend to be inherited and are common in knees, fingers, hips, elbows and lower back,’ Claire adds. The main treatment for hypermobility is improving muscle strength and fitness so your joints are protected. As Claire saw I was hypermobile she modified some of the positions slightly and told me I should avoid sinking into my joints, like keeping a slight bend in my elbow in downward facing dog for example.

Cardio Rule #4 Find something you enjoy

One of the most important rules – do something you enjoy or at least something you can tolerate doing. If you hate running, don’t force yourself onto a treadmill. Walk or bike instead, ideally outdoors so you can enjoy the scenery too.

If you are more into fitness that involves a social element, consider sports like squash or badminton, group fitness classes such as TRX and Power Plate, working out with a friend or a even joining a local walking club.

Whatever you choose, make sure you enjoy it, that way you will be more likely to do it – it really is THAT simple.

What I learnt this week:

#1 A lunchtime walk is SO important – not just so I am able to reach my 15,000 steps but because walking has so many proven health benefits. Plus, who wants to sit at a desk all day? Get out and walk about, even if you can only spare 20 minutes.

Proper corn sweet and salty

Plus, going for a walk is likely to increase your concentration. A 2013 study showed that three 30 minute walks a week caused the areas of the brain associated with memory and processing information to increase in size.

#2 I can’t go to the cinema and not eat popcorn – I can’t be the only one who thinks this? Saturday evening, myself and a friend went to the cinema (we were distracting ourselves from the Saturday night pull of alcohol), I stood in the supermarket and was channeling healthy snack vibes.

But I just couldn’t picture the thought of me sat in a cinema without popcorn. I decided to go for Proper Corn, sweet and salty flavour asit was reasonably low calorie at 135 calories a bag.

After eating the popcorn I messaged nutritionist Emma Bardwell to check I hadn’t made a terrible mistake. ‘Popcorn is a relatively high fibre wholegrain (for a snack) so it does have its merits, especially compared to, say, a packet of walkers ready salted crisps,’ says Emma.

‘Popcorn is also low in calories, especially compared to crisps for example. Popcorn will generally have less saturated fat than crisps too.

‘ProperCorn is a whole lot better than brands like Butterkist, and at least you know the nutritional information that is outlined on the packet, as opposed to the cinema popcorn which has no nutrient info printed on it. The best way to stay healthy is to pop your own at home but who has the time for that?’ Certainly not me Emma…

Come back every week to read Olivia’s week by week diary of her weight loss transformation with Mark Stanton and Emma Bardwell at Transition Zone. 

For a free 15 minute introductory call to talk about goals, symptoms and expectations click here. And for new client offers click here.

Follow Transition Zone on Instagram or see their website and latest newsletter for more information.

Exclusive networking event – Health To Wealth

If you’ve always wanted to make money from your healthy passion, Healthista’s upcoming Health To Wealth event is your chance to learn how to grow – or even just start – your side hustle into a business.

Healthista have teamed up with luxury hotel brand Pullman Hotels & Resorts to launch a new wellness entrepreneurship-focused initiative and event – Health To Wealth – to help budding start-ups bring their businesses to life.

This is your chance to network with top wellbeing business experts and media.

The live event will see Healthista readers, consumers, influencers, media and businesspeople alike, come together to share and learn.

During the event, selected early-stage health businesses and ideas will be put to the test Dragon’s  Den-style before a panel of industry experts including BBC Dragon – and Healthista investor – Touker Suleyman.

Multi-millionaire investor Touker Suleyman of BBC One’s Dragon’s Den will be on the panel and available for networking at Healthista’s health Too Wealth event. Don’t miss it.

When: June 13th, 2019

Where: The Shaw Theatre, Pullman London St Pancras, 100-110 Euston Road, King’s Cross, London, NW1 2AJ

Time: 6.00pm-9.30pm

Tickets: £15 from this link. Entry price includes a wellbeing goodie bag worth over £50.

On the night

Successful entrepreneurs from all areas of wellness including nutrition, fitness, and fashion will take part in a panel discussion focused on sharing their experience, tips and tricks for starting and growing a business in the wellness space.

This will be followed by a Dragon’s Den-style format, inviting up-and-coming wellness entrepreneurs to pitch for support to further the success of their own businesses.

The Health To Wealth entrepreneur’s panel includes: 

Touker Suleyman, BBC Dragon, multi-millionaire behind brands including Finery, Ghost and Hawes & Curtis and Healthista investor.

Emlyn Brown, Vice-President Well-Being, Luxury and Premium Brands at Accor Hotels.

Ashley Verma, founder of London’s barre fitness studio DEFINE London.

Anna Magee, Healthista Editor and CEO and multi-award winning health journalist.

Charing the panel will be Anni Hood, co-founder and chief executive at Well Intelligence – a research, insights and market evidence platform aimed at helping wellbeing businesses grow.

Tickets to join the audience to learn from the successes and hurdles overcome by the panel of speakers are £15 per person and available to purchase from here.

More Healthista Content:

When you get serious about weight loss, these are 3 things you need to give up

Kate Hudson’s personal trainer reveals her secrets of lasting weight loss

8 ways walking can help depression and anxiety – the psychotherapist’s guide

Stressed or anxious? This ten-minute meditation will help

‘Why I wrote a feminist version of The Little Mermaid’

7 steps to growing a business when you’re still working full time

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