The start of a healthier lifestyle is filled with struggle. It’s almost impossible to believe you’ll adjust. But slowly, things you once found challenging (for me, lifting and clean eating) become second nature. “When something gets easy, that is your signal not to coast,” my doctor, Gabrielle Lyon, DO, said to nudge me out of my comfy groove. “If you do the same activities, there’s no stress. Your body only improves when it’s pushed,” she said. So she asked me, “Can you do more?”
Yes! It was time to go harder, not just to push myself off a mini plateau, but to get in shape for an upcoming Mountain Lodges of Peru trek through the Andes (more on that adventure later!).
“When something gets easy, that is your signal not to coast,” -Gabrielle Lyon, DO
With this in mind, my strength coach, Adriana Couvillion, suggested a high-intensity interval-training challenge: four HIIT sessions plus two workouts of my choosing every week for a month. “The best way to burn fat is to lift weights, but faster. With HIIT, not only are you using resistance, but you’re pushing through timed intervals,” she explained. I downloaded the Seconds app (it counts down for you so you don’t have to watch the clock), programmed in Adriana’s prescribed workouts (think 18kg kettlebell swings, pushups, goblet squats, etc.), fired up my Apple Watch (I love tracking my heart rate), and got to it.
As a HIIT newbie, I was shocked by how short the workouts were—some just 25 minutes—and how exhausted I was after them. From day to day I could feel my cardio capacity improving and my muscles getting stronger and more defined. “HIIT is so effective because of the intensity—you put out a lot more effort than in other workouts,” Dr. Lyon explained.
“The best way to burn fat is to lift weights, but faster." -Adriana Couvillion, strength coach
Four weeks later, I had lost more than 3kg of pure fat and gained insane energy and confidence (enough to wear a crop top in a photo!). Most important, I’m learning I have it in me to always step it up and do more. Discomfort? That’s my new comfort zone.
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This article originally appeared on Women's Health US.