Know what the answer is?
Wait for it . . .WEIGHT TRAINING.
I swear, it is most often the critical missing link to all of our workouts. I think of the 2 programs I've done in the past that have really TRANSFORMED my body. P90X and Body for Life. Both promote a balance of cardio and weight training with 6 sensible meals per day.
Don't be afraid of the weight, ladies. Muscle is your friend. The more muscle mass you build, the more efficiently your body burns fat. I know everyone is afraid of getting too bulky. Trust me, if you're doing just 20 minutes of challenging interval cardio just 3 days a week, eating 6 sensible meals per day packed with lean protein, whole grains, fruits and veggies, and lifting HEAVY weights 3 days per week - I promise you, you will NOT get bulky.
At first, you may actually GAIN some weight. I'm not talking double digits or anything, but typically, when I start a new weight training program, after slacking for months, I typically gain 3-4 pounds the first 1-2 weeks. You CANNOT let this discourage you. You are working hard to build a fat-burning body, and you will gain a few pounds at first. This is a GOOD thing.
If you continue with this routine, you can even take 1 day a week to relax the "diet" and eat the pizza, ice cream, doughnuts, chocolate - whatever your weakness is. It is so important to take advantage of this "cheat" day. It gives you the opportunity to not deprive yourself of your most guilty culinary pleasures. It's also a great mental milestone to help you get through the week. If on Monday you're craving the M&M's, just think to yourself, "I get to have some on my cheat day on Saturday". Knowing you can have them eventually, gives you the strength to avoid them on your 6 non-cheating days during the week.
So let's get into the weight training. You really should be trying to lift some actual weight - not 5 or 8 pounds, I'm talking 4 sets of 20-15-12-8 reps respectively and each set you should be really struggling on the last few reps - so make sure you've got 15's. 20's and even some 30's handy. And if you're feeling really adventurous, do a fifth set back at 20 reps with the weights you started with. I recommend working 2 body parts per session. Chest and triceps one day, Shoulders and back another day, biceps and legs a third day. Switch it up - change is good.
Your workouts with weights should last about 45 minutes total. You should perform 3-5 different exercises per body part and rest 60 seconds between reps and up to 2 minutes between sets.
Some other tips:
1) Take the time to work with a professional to learn different exercises with proper form
2) Drink water, drink water, drink water, drink water
3) Don't forget to eat. 6 small sensible meals every day (1200-1800 calories a day)
4) I love Myoplex Lite shakes as a meal replacement since I never have enough time to cook
5) I love www.myfooddiary.com to track my meals, exercise and body transformation progress
6) If you feel like you are starving, you probably are. Starving won't get you in shape.
7) You are worth 60 minutes a day!!
Stay tuned for progress on my transformation!
Bring on the MUSCLE!