Should you use cardio for fat loss? Ben Camara, PT at No1 Fitness for Vanessa Chalmers’ weight loss transformation, explains how to use it to improve results and mental health
Vanessa’s results after the eight week weight loss transformation
If you read my week five diary, about how to get off the yo yo diet, you’ll be pleased to know this week things took a leap in the right direction.
I’m admiring the new shape my thighs are starting to take
I was feeling good about my end of week five results. Another 1.5lbs down which gets me over the half a stone mark. And it’s not just on the scales or measuring tape. In the very few times I see my body in the mirror (I get dressed either in the dark early hours, in a changing room corner or quickly into my pjs after a long day), I’m seeing a new figure in front of me.
Ben, my personal trainer during my program with his gym No1 Fitness, has said to me more than once I’m looking ‘skinny’, with the most difference in the face. But I’m admiring the new shape my thighs are starting to take, the slight lift in the bottom and – my god, is that a waist I see? Welcome home honey.
The week went smoothly, even though Ben was away he was still checking I was still sane via WhatsApp. But he got a shock on Saturday morning. I sent a lengthy ‘I give up’ text that would rival my relationship break down texts in drama and length.
I know it seems like I have a breakdown every week (awkward). You would be right. But let me remind you this weight loss transformation brought me daily hurdles on top of those that I was used to from work or normal life. On this particular day, I’d reached my tether.
I ended up bawing my eyes out behind the car wheel
It was brought on by discovering I’d lost my purse on Friday night. Another thing, alongside eating a curry at 5am in week three, I have realised I cannot blame being drunk on anymore.
Raging around and turning the house upside down on Saturday morning looking for it, I missed an hour gym session. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back (the cherry on top doesn’t sound right, seeing as I can’t eat cherry bakewells), and I ended up bawling my eyes out behind the car wheel whilst driving to every bus and rail station lost property in my area. I felt like I’d been staying strong for so long and nothing wanted to give.
tears brewed in my eyes whilst my family tucked into a warm apple pie and I weighed a strawberry
My social life was, albeit still busy, flat without being allowed the mulled wine (it was Christmas, after all). Work, for once in my life, was taking a backseat whilst my mind was consumed with the transformation. My commute with Southern Rail during an altered timetable – need I say more? – and meal times with my family felt lacklusture; tears brewed in my eyes whilst my family tucked into a warm apple pie and I weighed a strawberry. (A STRAWBERRY. It’s outrageous.). I have found myself in a gym-work-eat-sleep pattern that I used to associate with losers. I can’t help questioning whether this is worth it, all to be a little slimmer under an oversized Christmas jumper?
In case you are wondering, a strawberry roughly weighs 13g
Knowing I had to restrict myself at a bottomless Prosecco birthday brunch later that day made everything so much worse.
‘Just remember it’s normal to feel like this’, Ben says. ‘Put how you are feeling on what I call the awfulization scale,’ he advised. This is a tool Ben uses for stress management, and it’s pretty nifty. On one end of the scale, you have the worst scenario such as a family member is seriously ill. On the other end of the scale, it might be that you’re late to a meeting, whereby you can assess the situation and figure out how to fix it.
‘The key to using this tool is to truly understand the situation that you are in at that specific time. In life there will be very stressful things that will come to a head. But for you to improve your self-awareness is only going to help increase your health and well being.’ Read more about this on his blog.
The three steps for effectively managing a stressful situation. bencamara.com
‘Everyone has their ‘I might as well stop now’ moment. But we’re getting to the end goal now. You’ve done a great job, so even if you stopped now, I would be high five-ing you.’
I’m gaining a boost in self-confidence
Well, I’m not going to stop. Where I would have, in the past, delved under my duvet with Netflix and snacks (and snacks and more snacks), I feel different. I don’t feel the need to spoil and undo my hard work, I just want to get over it and move on. I feel a mental strength and determination I haven’t before, meaning I didn’t comfort eat, or in the presence of booze – comfort drink (even though Ben does grant me the choice to have some to de-stress). In fact, once I’m around my friends, I’m completely distracted by the morning’s events and it all seemed so trivial. At this point, I’m gaining a boost in my self-confidence, something not measurable by numbers.
(If you were wondering, my purse was handed in to a station by Monday. Thank you good person.)
Brunch at Exmouth Market Grind
Another boost to my mental health is coming in the form of my weekend 5K runs. Before I go, I’m dreading it. It’s cold, it hurts, and my brain is good at telling me I should stop come the panting. But it’s the one exercise I have always felt a huge endorphin rush from. I get back practically beaming with elation. ‘Having a goal that doesn’t relate to being under a barbell, and instead focused on you VS you is a great way to really break down barriers of self-doubt and chase progress’, says Ben.
On a run with the dog
Fat burning cardio: How to do it
I’m still doing roughly four hours of weight based exercise per week to burn as much fat as possible. The cardio based activity is an added bonus. ‘As we know, exercising will help with creating the energy deficit that we need when losing weight’, says Ben. ‘Some trainers won’t necessarily coach clients to add cardio into the program due to the potential of ‘losing muscle mass’. However, if programmed right it not only helps to burn the fat and help with blood around the body and therefore to muscles. For me, a ‘fitter’ athlete during a weight loss transformation means we can recover quicker and train harder.’
I am making sure I always hit my 10,000 steps a day by taking a walk at lunch – no excuses.
So how do you programme it right? ‘A good example is to have a cardio based workout in the week and then build up to the weekend as well’, says Ben. This could be either HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training of shorter and more intense periods, LISS, which is Low Intensity Steady State such as walking or swimming for longer periods, or HISS, High Intensity Steady State which is a sort of mix of the two and what I consider a 5K run. You also want to keep your cardio separate from your weight training, as they use different energy systems, according to Ben.
‘I know I always preach it, but plan, plan, plan’, says Ben. I struggle to get two cardio sessions in a week what with commuting 3-4 hours a day, so am making sure I always hit my 10,000 steps a day by taking a walk at lunch – no excuses.
Before my weight loss transformation, I had reached a personal best (PB) of 35 minutes for 5K (and 1 hour three minutes for a 10K race). I wanted to get it under 30 minutes. ‘If you are looking to beat a PB, work out how fast or hard you need to be working’. I’d need to run at a pace of about six minutes per km and 10 kph speed. ‘Start to build up to working at a higher intensity with lower intensity intervals. Heart Rate monitors come in greatly here.’
Ben suggests running the first 2K at a slightly faster pace (high intensity), then coming back down to your normal or lower pace (low intensity). The idea is to try and build up to longer periods in the high intensity, until you can shorten your time.
By the end of week six, I get my time to 30 minutes after a four year love for running. All I can think is I wish I had pushed myself to reach it before now.
The day I beat my PB
Three products that helped my winter running
Boudavida Valient Hoodie
I tried a few runs without the right thermals – worst decions ever. It really pays to have the right kit and I’d highly recommend a hoodie such as this one for the very frosty runs. It’s the perfect thickness for keeping you warm without suffocating you, and the moisture wicking fabric means you won’t be uncomfortably sweaty. The thumb holes, extended cuffs and high cut collar (with a hood if you fancy), keep the cold out at every point. It’s a snug and flattering fit, so I feel less self-conscious running in front of all those drivers. Rose gold zips on small pockets for keys or change is a nice stylish touch, too.
Buy for £90
Ronhill Women’s Infinity Nightfall Jacket
I once did a run in the rain without waterproofs. Never again. This protective jacket, with a Hydrophilic laminate, won’t hold you back come rain or shine – it’s surprisingly lightweight so I don’t mind taking it along with me if the sky looks a bit dodgy. The hood fits comfortably with adjustables to pull it tighter around my face and a chin guard to avoid chaffing. Toggles are also on the hem to keep you warm, but with breathable fabric, sweat won’t be a problem. Essentials can be stored in a small chest pocket, which is also a self pack system so that it can fold up neatly, and the reflective details keep you safe in low lights, without having to wear a terrifying fluorescent vest.
Buy from for SportsShoes.com for £77.49
Buff Thermonet Tubular
Scarves are a no-no when running, so instead I use this ThermoNet from Buff, a multi-functional headwear brand. The neckwear (it’s like a long tube of thin material), uses high-thermal insulation with advanced moisture management. What this means is you’ll be kept at a stable body temperature despite the cold and the fact you have a thermal on, due to its unique, fast drying fibres. Clever stuff. Because it’s so lightweight you won’t even notice its there. On really cold days I’ll pull it over my nose too.
Buy for £21.76
Three things I learnt this week
Don’t fear the grab and go: When on a weight lsos plan, you may worry about the fact you have to pick up a dinner on the go. There is lot’s of choice in chain cafés and coffee shops now, but you need to know your labels – are you most interested in low calorie? High protein? Low sugar? (I’m guessing all three!) Go in with confidence that an appealing doughnut won’t sway you. This week I had a Pret Pork and Lentil Ragu after avoiding chips/hot dogs/churros at Winter Wonderland. It was a really satisfying and balanced option at only 240 calories.
Ragu from Pret
Intuition: I’m getting the hang of this intuition thing. I made the decision I wanted crisps, dip and a bit of chocolate with my girlfriends on Saturday night (woah, call the diet police). It was worth it and I didn’t feel guilty.
Walking: As I said, I’m making sure I hit my 10,000 steps a day (ish). Fresh air in the middle of the day is so valuable and makes me work much better than spending lunch al-desko.
I lost over a kilo in week six. There are some missing results on the measurements in week six because Ben was away. Apparently it’s important to always have the same person (and scales) for measurement!
|Before/Week 1||Week 2||Week 3||Week 4||Week 5||Week 6||Week 7|
|Waist below belly button||91cm||88cm||84.7cm||87cm||83.5cm||N/A||82.5cm|
|Overall weight loss||N/A||1.6kg||2.4kg||2.3kg||2.9kg||3.6kg||4.7kg|
|Overall cm loss||N/A||3.9cm||12.8cm||7.1cm||12.6cm||N/A||13.4cm|
Workout of the week
#FitnessFriday ⭐️ just a snippet of my workout with @mark_hallam_ yesterday in @bencamara’s absence! Four sets of three exercises, 60 sec rest in between sets. Then we raise the heart rate with things like the prowler or sprints on the Skillmill. Then on to another three exercises🏃♀️🏋️♀️ @no1_fitness . . . #health #nutrition #wellness #womenshealth #fitness #fitfam #ukfitfam #instafit #weighttraining #girlswholift #gymlife #girlgains #fitness #fit #hardwork #gym #fitspiration #dedicated #motivation #gymtime #getlean #weightloss #weightlossjourney #transformation #transformationjourney #videoworkout #fitnessblogger #foodblogger
A post shared by Vanessa (@vanessa_chalmers) on Dec 8, 2017 at 12:10am PST
|REPS / Time||SETS||KG / TEMPO||REST||Notes|
|Warm up||Hip mobilisers||10||2|
|Arm rotations||10||2||60s||Face forwards rotate arm up and back over shoulder.|
|Circuit one – two sets.||Trx Single Leg squat||10||2|
|Giant set for upper body – three sets.||Inverted Row Pull TRX or smith machine||10||3||8kg (each hand)||.|
|Depth Push ups||10||3|
|Back/ Posterior Chain, pull focus – three sets||Trap Bar Deadlift||12||3||50kg||Eccentric focus. Go down for 2-3 seconds and up for one|
|TRX high pull||12||3|
|Side Planks||10s||6 each side||60s||Raise arm to ceiling. Hold at top for two seconds then rotate arm underneath before lowering.|
Come back every Tuesday to read Vanessa’s week by week diary of her weight loss transformation with Ben Camara at No1 Fitness, with tips and advice from the experts.
Ben Camara has worked with some of the most famous faces in the world with training and health coaching clients including Madonna, Kate Moss and Vogue photographers Mert & Marcus. Having carved out a career in professional football, Ben Camara wanted his next career step to allow him to continue working in the field that he was passionate about, that of health, fitness and nutrition. He and Harry Thomas co-founded No1 Fitness seven years ago, offering bespoke personal training in two locations in London.
Follow on Instagram or visit No1 Fitness website.
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