Fat Loss vs. Heart Conditioning: Choosing a Workout

A lot of exercise books and programs focus on how they promote “fat loss.” When they promise that you’ll be in great shape, they show ripped people happily doing the workout. Hmmm. Folks like that always look healthy but we really don’t know. They’re fitness models and as far as we know, they might use  extreme, unhealthy diets or even some not quite legal substances to achieve a muscular, lean look.

Exercise marketing also likes to brag that you won’t have to do cardio. Whatever they’re selling is BETTER than cardio! Their workout is all about fat loss! They’re assuming everyone hates cardio and the truth is if you’re choosing a workout, the idea of zoning out on a treadmill IS pretty boring. So how does fat loss really happen? How do we determine what’s really going to get the calories burning?

Your body really does “burn” fat to extract energy from it. Fat is a hydrocarbon that undergoes controlled combustion with oxygen. The carbon goes to carbon dioxide and the hydrogen goes to water.  But most of the mass of the hydrocarbon is carbon, so you literally breathe it out when you exhale carbon dioxide. Yes, you lose weight by breathing it off!

You are a combustion engine! So doesn’t it make sense to stoke that flame? That’s what heart conditioning exercise does: It increases your heart rate which pumps more blood through your lungs, enriching it with oxygen that fuels the burn as your body’s demand for energy is increased and extended. The longer and more intensely you can do that, the more your body burns fuel!

Heart conditioning is a process of improving the heart’s ability to pump at a higher rate for longer while increasing the volume of blood it can oxygenate with each pump. You are bringing in the necessary oxygen with each breath. When you first start out, you know that you reach your max pretty quick. Your heart rate shoots up and you become winded and unable to maintain your breathing. You know you are improving as you feel yourself becoming winded at steadily higher and higher heart rates. It will also gradually take longer to reach those higher rates. But I believe something more important is happening. You are becoming connected to your body and how it really works. You feel yourself taking control of it as your heart rate and breathing are evolving. It can be an incredible experience to feel your body responding! Especially as you realize you are guiding this response!

Choosing a workout that purports to be all about fat loss is OK but nothing makes me feel healthier than when my heart is pumping at a high rate and I’m breathing deep and fast. It makes me feel that I am doing something that really will help me live longer and at a better quality of life. It brings me a feeling of great comfort and security. But how does it make me look?

I look happy.