Over the last 5 ½ years, I’ve seen many people come through the studio doors, most looking to lose weight. Like most exercise programmes, Zumba bases its success on the formula that if you eat less and exercise more, you’ll shed those unwanted kilos. Create a deficiency in calories and you’ll get the body you’ve always dreamed of.
Don’t get me wrong, Zumba is FUN. It really doesn’t feel like hard work, you’re simply dancing to great music, and you realise at the end of class you’ve been booty-shaking like Beyoncé for an hour and you didn’t want to collapse. But after all of these years, none of my students have a "Zumba Body" of an infomercial.
(And neither do I). Sure, they may have lost some weight in the first few months, but most are right back where they started. The toughest part is, they think it is THEIR fault. They don’t have enough willpower, they haven’t been working ‘hard’ enough, or simply their body is failing them.
Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s not you, it’s the workout. Cardio exercise programmes alone DO NOT make you lose weight. They can actually make you gain weight – the more energy you burn, the more energy you need to consume to get through the day. As a Zumba Instructor having taught up to 6 classes a week, I know – although I have toned up, I haven’t lost any body fat since I started Zumba. Since the 70’s when Jazzercise and other workouts became more mainstream, we as a human race have only become more overweight. You’d think with all the gyms and the workout culture we have created, everyone would have their ideal body, when in fact it’s a far cry from reality.
It’s torture to expect someone to not eat when they’re hungry, but we’re taught that being overweight is a simple equation: work out until you’re exhausted, then eat a green salad and get on with your day. NOT going to work. The body needs fuel to repair and recover after a workout, and starving yourself sets your body up for weight gain in the future, when you can’t sustain this torturous setup any longer, and binge eat.
So, I quit Zumba because I could see that it’s 80% what you eat, and 20% what you do, not the other way around. I wanted to help people with what they put in their mouths, and not be part of the society that tells people that cardio exercise will give them the body they desire. All the fittest people who have great bodies lift weights, and don’t focus on cardio. Weight lifting regulates your hormones, stimulates fat burning and changes your body shape. And a healthy diet will change your body faster than anything else. Cardiovascular exercise does have some benefits – heart health, endorphin release, and a sense of achievement – but won’t help you lose the tummy.
What made all the difference for my body was increasing healthy fat in my diet. I used to avoid butter and high-fat items like the plague. I thought I could see my butt get bigger if I ate an avocado. The irony is, when I started cutting back on the supposedly “healthy whole grains”, and introduced butter, coconut oil, and more meat fat into my diet my health improved immeasurably. My nails, hair & skin are healthier, I don’t get as hungry as often, and my blood sugar has stabilised. I lost fat by simply eating some! And in my opinion, that’s far easier than busting my butt in an exercise class.
My passion is to share the healthy fat message with the world – To get the body of your dreams, you don’t need to punish it more – you need to love it more. Feed it good food, delicious fatty food, and decrease the inflammatory sugars – you’ll be amazed at how quickly your body starts to change, unlike all those years of sweating it out in lycra.