6 Simple Steps to a Fit Confident Body This Summer – Part 3

Step 3) What kind of cardio hell must I tolerate to get in shape?

Let’s remember our goals for a second, okay? You want to prance around the beach (or pool) in your teeny tiny swim suit and feel damn good about yourself. In order to do that, we have to move our bodies in ways that will give us the most bang for our buck. Lest you think I’m going to order you to slave away on the treadmill for hours at a time, fear not, my lovely. That’s the totally INtolerable cardio hell. No, we’re going to do the absolute minimum to get the results we want, because that’s how we roll. Are you in?


Cardio challenge #1: Every day for however long you have til vaca time, I want you to go for a 30 minute walk. I don’t care if you break it up into 10 minutes 3 times a day or just do it all at once. I want it moderate pace (ie: it’s not exactly a stroll but it’s not prancercize either…just google it…you’re welcome).


Cardio challenge #2: Three days per week, get on a cardio machine of your choice, or simply hit the outdoors, for a little high intensity interval training, otherwise known as “hell, but it’s over quick”. Warm up for 5-10 minutes by slowly increasing your pace. Then, hit your first interval for 60 seconds by dramatically increasing your pace and/or increasing the tension (if you’re on a cardio machine). By the end of these 60 seconds, you should be breathing hard and your legs should be burning. Then take a full two minutes to get your heart rate back down to a normal level. You’re going to repeat this 5 times. Then cool down for 5 minutes at a slow pace. Big gold star for you, as I know these intervals aren’t easy. Think back on the reason why you’re doing this (remember Step 1 and all that visualizing?).


Now, as you progress, you’ll be able to go harder, longer and rest for shorter periods, so follow the table below to get an idea of how to progress your interval training. And here’s a big tip: once you feel kinda comfortable with the workout or feel like you’re getting good at it? Well my friend, it’s time to move up to the next level. Comfortable has no place in interval work. Just think how comfortable you’ll feel laying by the pool sipping a mimosa on vacation, knowing you kicked some serious booty to get that fabulous body. Delay the comfortable.


Workout Progression

Time in Interval

Time in Rest

Number of Intervals

Level #1

30 seconds

2 minutes


Level #2

45 seconds

90 seconds


Level #3

60 seconds

45 seconds


*Start on Level #1. Once you complete your interval workout without needing to curl up in the fetal position on the floor afterwards, you are ready to advance to the next level.


A Precautionary Tale



Whoever first said “more is better”, certainly only meant chocolate and not exercise. If you start to find yourself thinking “if 20 minutes of intervals is good, let’s do an hour of it!” come back and re-read this section.

Several years ago I competed in several NPC figure competitions where it was all about extremes; under 1,000 calories and 2+ hours of exercise per day. Yes, I got pretty lean but I also started losing my hair, I had absolutely no energy to do anything outside of working out and my job (sorry kids!), I had no social life, my sex drive walked out on me, I lost my period for a whole year, I was moody as hell, and when I quit the competing I packed on the pounds at an alarming rate. Nothing like a 50 pound weight gain (wish I was kidding!) to wake you up to the ridiculous methods you used to get in shape for a very short period of time.

Would doing more exercise get you results quicker? Maybe. But I think we can agree that the very real potential side effects just aren’t worth it! So my advice, after doing it the wrong way, is this: use the minimum effective dose to get the results you want. When you have a headache what do you do? You take some ibuprofen and it eventually goes away, right? You don’t reach for the morphine drip over a simple headache, do you? Hell no, because the side effects would be ridiculous and completely unnecessary for a headache. Minimum effective dose, my friends. Happy sweating!

About Kristy Stabler

Kristy Stabler is a wife, mom of 3 daughters, a national level figure competitor, a nutritionist, personal trainer, and health blogger for the Huffington Post. But underneath all those titles, she’s a woman who has dealt with her own body image issues, self-doubt and diet obsession. Seeing a lack of true substance to most of the fitness programs out there, Kristy changed her coaching to address the mental & emotional aspects of good health that every woman deals with on a daily basis, but tends to ignore in the pursuit of a size zero. Kristy has a Business Degree from California State University Sacramento and is ISSA certified in nutrition and personal training.