Information and opinions presented here do not always represent the views of the American Heart Association.

Focus Your Workouts, Change Your Body

Published: 3:16 pm CDT, June 7, 2012

One of the most beautiful things about the world we live in is that we are all different. We are all unique individuals with unique backgrounds. Some of us come from healthier backgrounds than others, some of us are at higher fitness levels than others. But when it comes to exercise, one thing is true for everyone—doing something is better than nothing. That said, I’m now going to contradict that point—

In previous posts, I’ve given examples of ways to incorporate more movement into your lives, speaking to everyone about general health benefits. But today I want to speak to a slightly different audience. Today I’m speaking to those of you who have been exercising fairly regularly and can manage a more intense workout. You’ve been cleared by your doctor and you’re ready to take on more.

What do you do when you workout? Do you jump on the treadmill, elliptical or stationary bike? Do you also read, check your phone and watch TV while on this equipment? If you are, you are not getting everything out of your workout that you could be. Engaging in these other activities is fine if you have basic health goals and are just trying to get moving. However, if your goal is to change your body, you’re going to need to sharpen your focus. Put the phone down, and focus 100% of your efforts on your workout, getting out of your comfort zone.

What is your comfort zone? I’m glad you asked! Simply put, it’s the amount of effort you put into your workout where you feel comfortable. You can talk to your neighbor, you’re not sweating too much, you feel “good.” Leaving your comfort zone requires you to feel tired and possibly stressed, which can be… well… uncomfortable. But remember, if you want to make a change, it’s something  you’ll have to endure. Just be mindful of your body, and if you ever feel dizzy or sick, reduce your intensity level.*

A good way to judge how hard you’re working (if you don’t have a heart rate monitor) is to use the talk test. How easily can you have a conversation? If you’re struggling to get words out and breathe at the same time—good, you’re working hard, keep it up. If you cannot speak or are dizzy—back off immediately. If you can easily carry a conversation—you’ll need to increase your intensity.

In order to create a change in your body, you must make changes to your workout. A great example of this is by increasing the intensity of your exercises. Challenging your body—requiring it to endure more stress than you have put on it in the past—will produce different results than the results you are currently seeing.

If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. – Frank Devito

A great way to not only challenge yourself but to break up your routine is to alternate between higher and lower levels of intensity. Shorter, higher-intensity workouts can actually burn more calories than a workout with a longer duration and lower intensity. This occurs because high-intensity interval training (HIIT) results in what is called EPOC or Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption. This means your heart rate stays elevated longer and your body is burning more calories for a longer period of time after you complete your workout. It is also known as the “afterburn.” Regular HIIT also raises your resting metabolic rate, enabling your body to burn more calories at rest! Hooray!

By focusing your workouts, you will be able to make changes in your body without having to spend as much time in the gym. Focus your workouts, change your body! Check out some of my suggestions for interval training.


Peace, love and focus,


Melissa Villamizar, CPT


*Note: This posts assumes you are in good physical condition and have been cleared by a doctor for moderate to intense exercise. If you are currently suffering from a heart condition or any other chronic disease, it’s important that you get clearance from your doctor before engaging in intense physical activity.


The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of The American Heart Association | American Stroke Association. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

The American Heart Association’s blog is not intended to provide medical advice or treatment. Only your healthcare provider can provide that. The American Heart Association recommends that you consult your healthcare provider regarding your personal health matters. If you think you are having a heart attack, stroke or another emergency, please call 911 immediately.

  • Windmill

    Wow that was odd. I just wrote an really long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again. Anyways, just wanted to say wonderful blog!

  • Febri

    By the time my babies are 10 weeks old I get back to my woukort schedule. For me, I have always found the best way to fit it in is to do it before they wake up (or if tiny, as soon as they have been nursed, but before the rest of the house is awake). If there is another adult in the house then I run outside. If there is not, then the treadmill comes out. This is my time and I don’t mind a few minutes of lost sleep to get it.

  • Lavern Viands

    Thanks for the suggestions shared using your blog. Something also important I would like to talk about is that weight-loss is not supposed to be about going on a fad diet and trying to reduce as much weight that you can in a couple of days. The most effective way in losing weight is by acquiring it slowly and following some basic tips which can make it easier to make the most from your attempt to slim down. You may realize and be following some tips, but reinforcing knowledge never does any damage.

  • Sterling Reder

    Really nice info you have here, gracias

  • Timothy Tumminello

    Another issue is that video games are generally serious anyway with the main focus on learning rather than amusement. Although, there is an entertainment element to keep children engaged, each and every game is usually designed to develop a specific group of skills or programs, such as mathmatical or scientific discipline. Thanks for your publication.

  • Rosaura

    Thanks for posting this.. It’s been a pleasure to read :)

    • Anselme

      actually interesting. i noctied that too, in order to slow down the hurry-up. It makes sense, but in football there are lots of injuries that actually do take one play, like getting the air knocked out of you. not sure it would help, but an interesting idea. If they would do something like that, the rule would have to be very situational, in my opinion

  •,dywanow,warszawa,s,1405/ Pranie dywanów Warszawa

    I couldn’t resist commenting

  • Isabelle Lunan

    Wow! Thank you! I continuously needed to write on my site something like that. Can I include a portion of your post to my site?

    • Ediane

      for so long i tried to wake up at the crack of dawn & exercise beorfe my baby{ies} woke up. but i’m kind of a natural night-owl i decided to just embrace it. i started working out at night [9pm] & i love it! my husband works nights this 100% me-time. i sleep soundly & actually look forward to it!

  • Kiera Petriello

    Thanks for the tips shared on your blog. Something else I would like to say is that weight loss is not about going on a dietary fads and trying to shed as much weight as you can in a couple of weeks. The most effective way to lose weight naturally is by acquiring it little by little and right after some basic tips which can make it easier to make the most out of your attempt to lose weight. You may know and already be following these tips, yet reinforcing information never hurts.