I am the former fat chick who lost 20kg by cutting out junk food and lifting weights. I didn't do any cardio.
I am also the former fat chick who got skinny and ran 5km nearly every morning for an entire month and didn't lose one extra gram of fat.
So I have mixed feelings about cardio.
I know that it burns calories while you are doing it, and if you do high intensity intervals, you burn extra calories afterwards. What does that mean to me? It means that I am STARVING all day. In fact, I have had my biggest binges after an intense RPM class or a long run.
I have been contemplating this thing we call cardio and I have formulated one of my weird theories. I don't think that the activity requires so much fuel that I am in massive deficit and therefore hungry. I think it is all about stress.
When I run, do sprints or an RPM class, the resultant rapid beating of my heart and shortness of breath feels like there is something wrong. It feels the same as when I am frightened, I am emotionally upset or I feel panicked about something. This is how I physically experience anxiety. I don't know much about hormones but I am pretty sure that this physical state causes my body to be flooded with cortisol.
My conditioned response to stress, rightly or wrongly, is to find comfort and the quickest route is food. It is not genuine hunger I am feeling after intense cardio but a learned coping strategy for the stress.
Curiously, I never experience these feelings when I weight train. I don't know if it is because I breathe deeply and slowly, or because there is no urgency to what I am doing but lifting seems like I am doing something right. I know my heart beats faster and I can work up a sweat (thank you Mr Deadlift) but somehow I feel more solid and grounded. It is the same when I do incline walking on the treadmill - solid, grounded, and calm.
Some people thrive on stress. Some people live their lives from one adrenalin filled moment to the next and want more. Me, I want peace. I want to quieten the chattering voices in my head. I want to feel calm.
I think I'll give the high intensity cardio a miss for now.