Can we forget about burning calories and fat?

In searching the internet for a “stationary bike interval workout,” I’m met with a slew of fat-blasting, calorie-burning focused results.

  • Fight Belly Fat With This Boredom-Busting Interval Workout.
  • An Hour’s Worth of Cardio in 20 Minutes!
  • The Ultimate 8-Week HIIT for Fat-Burning Program
  • 7 Interval Training Workouts to Burn Fat Fast
  • 5 HIIT Workouts You Can Do RIGHT NOW To Incinerate Fat in Under 15 Minutes

Incinerate? Really?

Aside from the fact that you cannot actually burn fat off of your body, these claims are utterly ridiculous. “Fight belly fat?” There are better things in the world worth fighting for/against. Fighting my own body does not need to be on this list. “An hour of cardio in 20 minutes.” Exercise is supposed to fun! Find an exercise you like. Do it. If you feel like doing an hour of cardio one day, do it. If you only feel like doing 20 minutes, do that.

Can we forget about burning calories and fat for a minute, and just focus on the health benefits of exercise?

Not only is the emphasis on calorie and fat burning, but it’s also all about seeing results fast, and with little input on our part. “Burn Fat Fast” and “Under 15 Minutes” and “60 minutes in 20 minutes” and even the eight week program. If noticeable changes in your appearance are truly important, it takes more than eight weeks to get there.

We are being set up for failure here. We are seeing messages that we need to:

  1. Burn fat.
  2. Burn fat immediately.
  3. But don’t spend more than 20 minutes doing it.

Am I the only who sees that this is impossible? Not only are we asking ourselves to burn off of our body fat, which we need, but we are also expecting to see results in just a few weeks. We are setting unrealistic expectations of having ‘no belly fat’ after five workouts. No.

Let’s literally erase calorie and fat-burning from the exercise dialogue. What’s left? The health benefits. The sad, lowly, forgotten health benefits of working out on a regular basis.

I can’t seem to find a single workout that speaks to why I’m looking for a new interval workout: I just want to improve my cardiovascular health. 

I mean, I know that all of these will improve my cardiovascular health, but hardly any of the language in any of these articles mentions how much your heart and lungs really appreciate exercise. The actual health benefits either go unmentioned, or are treated as an, “Oh by the way, exercising is also like, good for your heart and entire body, lol.”

Furthermore, you really don’t need to kill yourself doing cardio. Just stay active, do an exercise you enjoy, and do something that’s sustainable. Some people have trouble sticking with exercise routines because they try to do the complete and utter most. They find an interval workout promising to ZAP FAT FAST! And by the end of the 1000 burpees, the 16 400M sprint repeats and 8 miles of walking lunges, you are dead. Of course you don’t want to put yourself through that again. That is not a sustainable, everyday workout.

If you just focus on a sole objective like improving cardiovascular health or improving total body strength, exercise becomes much less daunting and much more enjoyable.

Let’s reset our expectations, too. Instead of measuring the success of an exercise based on how we look, let’s focus on how we feel. Let’s notice things like, “Wow, this exercise feels easier today,” or “Hm, I can do a bit more or got a bit further because I am not tired yet,” or “Didn’t this used to be a lot harder?” 

Those should be our metrics for success.

Keep in mind, I struggle too. I still become frustrated by belly fat or how much I think I weight on any given day. I had to get rid of my heart rate monitor because I was obsessing over the number of calories it told me I was burning. I don’t run with my GPS watch anymore because I always beat myself up for not running fast enough.

Let’s just please let it all go: The obsession with calorie and fat burning, the expectation that we’ll look so fit and have no more belly fat after working out for 8 weeks, the unrealistic pressure we’re putting on ourselves.

Let’s just exercise to feel good, to improve our strength, to improve our cardiovascular health and to — DARE I SAY IT — have fun.

 

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