I might be the only woman in the world who didn’t know this, but the elliptical is a dirty rotten liar.
All through college, my sorority girl butt reported directly to the gym almost daily to do 30-60 minutes on the elliptical. It was my weapon of choice (against the calories I was drinking). Yet still, I managed to never lose weight, and sometimes, I’d gain. How was it possible? I wondered. If I was burning 600 calories a day on the elliptical and eating pretty healthy (albeit drinking probably 4,000 calories a week), how was I gaining?
It’s because I was never burning 600 calories on the damn elliptical.
After college, I continued to choose the elliptical almost every time I went to the gym. Running is hard! That should have been a sign. If you aren’t really dying and sweating and if you don’t want to stop immediately, you probably aren’t working hard enough to lose significant weight (every person is different, but low intensity cardio doesn’t do much for me). And if we’re being honest, I’m pretty much always trying to lose 5lbs.
Fast forward to last month, when I bought a Polar Heart Rate Monitor. That’s when I discovered that my 40 minutes on the elliptical was burning NEXT TO NOTHING. I mean, 200 something calories but SO MUCH LESS than the elliptical tells me I’ve burned. It was consistently telling me I’d burned 500 calories or more!
So basically, I’m really glad that I bought a heart rate monitor because my workouts have gotten way more efficient. Yes, they’re harder but I had no idea that what I was doing was not doing much for me. Sure, something is better than nothing (and oh my gosh I’d rather do nothing). But the something I’m doing these days is working a lot better for me.
If you’re an elliptical devotee like myself, consider a heart rate monitor or make peace with the fact that the reason it feels easier than running is because it is actually easier.
Want to see what you’re burning on the elliptical? For me, this calculator is pretty accurate when I compare it to what my heart rate monitor tells me.