Finding my Feel Great Weight wasn't an easy task, but incorporating strength training into my regular exercise routine was even more difficult. After a sweaty cardio session, I viewed strength training as “extra credit”—beneficial but not necessary. Plus, I didn't know how to properly strength train, so it was easy to hit the treadmill and call it a day. But when the scale refused to budge—and my body wasn’t looking any better in a bikini—I had to admit that something was missing from my weight-loss plan.

Don’t be a sissy
I halfheartedly tried adding regular weight sessions into my workout, but strength training was boring. I never got into a consistent routine, thinking that a little weight lifting was better than nothing, right? I whipped through the same routine week after week and saw the same numbers on the scale—no gain, no loss. (I know, I know—a scale wasn’t a good measure of my progress!) After a cardio workout, I’d be huffing and puffing, but I’d often finish a workout feeling like I hadn’t done much work. Without challenging my muscles by lifting enough weight, I wasn’t doing myself any favors.

Try taking a class
I discovered that my gym offered a strength-training class called Body Pump, which was the perfect opportunity to learn the basics of weight lifting. The 60-minute workout challenges all of your major muscle groups by using a weighted bar and plates. The group atmosphere and upbeat music motivated me to come to class twice a week every week, and the Body Pump routine changed every six weeks, so it never got boring.


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After just a few weeks of regular classes, I got stronger and started using more weight in my workouts. Being sore the next day was a constant physical reminder of my hard work (I discovered muscles I didn’t even know existed). And, all of a sudden, I saw significant changes in my body—and I wanted to wear sleeveless shirts all the time to show off my new sculpted arms.

Stick with it—even if you can’t get to the gym
I no longer attend regular Body Pump classes, but I do my own version at home. I strength train 3–4 times a week for 30–60 minutes, and perform each exercise for 8–12 repetitions for 2–3 sets. Generally, I devote one session to upper-body strength training, one to lower body, one full body, and one to circuit training. If I get bored with my routine, I pop in a fitness DVD—my favorite is Jillian Michaels: Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism. I used to drag my heels when it came to lifting weights, but now that I can do it from the comfort of my living room, it’s easier to stick with my workout plan. And it’s just extra motivation that my jeans fit better as a result!

Read Tina's daily food and fitness blog, Carrots 'N' Cake.