I'm about a month into my weight loss and health journey. I'm 28, 5'9, and started at 205. I am currently 194. My goal is to get down to 145-150. I have been mainly focusing on cardio (walking, jogging, stair-climbing) and not squats/lunges/anything that targets specific areas. I figured, since I have a layer of fat to get rid of first, cardio should be my focus, and then tone up. Or should I be doing everything in conjunction?
I want you to think about your weight loss journey as if you are climbing up a ladder. The first step you made was pulling the ladder out of the garage and putting it up against the wall that you need to climb over. That was when you decided it was time to make a change. Your 60 pound weight loss goal is your wall and you are now starting to take the steps you need to get over it.
The first few rungs of the ladder are pretty easy. You start to eat a little better, maybe cutting back on your sugar, drinking more water and not indulging in “treats” as much. You are also starting to move, taking the stairs when you can, walking to work, and getting out on weekends for a walk or bike ride. And amazingly, you start to see weight come off and your clothes become a bit looser.
But now you are stuck and you can’t seem to get to the next rung. You are still doing everything you did that caused the weight to come off previously but nothing is changing. Your weight is staying the same, and possibly you may have even put on a few pounds.
Why is this happening? Because in order to keep moving up the ladder you need to continue to make changes. You have become comfortable and your body is no longer being challenged in ways it was before because, surprise, you are fit! You have now cut sugar out completely, you have switched your walking to a walk/jog and you have found yourself a spin class. You are pushing yourself harder in your workouts and the weight is starting to move again. You’ve reached the next rung.
But then it stops, and once again you make more changes, pushing yourself harder, and then there it goes. This keeps happening over and over until you’ve climbed to the top. But just like climbing a ladder, the higher you get and closer to your goal you are, you need to work harder and harder to keep seeing changes. Those last few rungs, or 10-15 pounds, are the toughest.
Now to answer your question… YES! You NEED to do strength training. I am like you and love the feeling I get from a good cardio burn, but lifting weights is just as important as cardio. You are going to increase the strength and endurance of your muscles, which is going to enable you to push harder in your workouts. Your now bigger muscles will require more energy, meaning you are going to burn more calories each time you move. You are going to start to see changes in your shape, your clothes will hang better and you will find yourself admiring your biceps more than you ever have.
“Lifting weights” isn’t what it used to be. If you find a good class that focuses on high intensity interval training, (or use the Nike Training Club workouts) you will finish your workouts more exhausted than any cardio workout you have ever done. But remember, as your strength workouts start to feel “easy” you need to step it up. And only you can make that happen. You need to take less rest, make your intervals longer, push harder in the cardio bursts, lift heavier weights, do more reps and lift more of your body weight (for example switch to big girl pushups from your toes).
Keep pushing and finding new ways to sweat.