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Here’s the latest installment of Loni Works It Out, where OK!’s Beauty and Health Editor Loni Albert chronicles her trials and travails as she attempts to slim down like a superstar. Follow her on OKmagazine.com every week and on Twitter!

I’ve never been an athlete — and I’m not ashamed of it one bit! I tried to join the cross-country team in college and ended up getting run off the road by a deer (and no, I’m not trying to make a joke — this is a very true story). Clearly, the universe and all of the higher powers just did not want me in a jersey.

So when I started to notice my body changing after a month of working out with my trainer Bill Lagaret at DavidBartonGym, it was a whole new sensation for me and I thought it was pretty amazing. I don’t just mean aesthetic changes, but a dramatic improvement in my strength and abilities. My lunges became more stable, weights didn’t seem as heavy, and I could sprint for longer and at higher speeds.

I started to really enjoy going to the gym and I was also seeing some other very motivating results (10 pounds melted off, and lots of inches disappeared) that encouraged me to turn my rest days into cardio days, which left me working it out seven days a week, and loving it — believe it or not.

Sure enough, just when things were going great, Bill stepped in and pulled the rug out from under me with the devastating news that we needed to change up my plan. Why now? When things were going so well? When I was actually seeing and feeling results?

According to Bill, to keep your body challenged and to continue to see results, you’ve got to mix it up! He informed me that we’d be switching our focus from a conditioning mode, to an endurance mode. Now this whole idea really got me concerned. I just started to get good at what I was doing. Why NOW, when I was feeling great and just starting to get the hang of things, would you decided to change things up? And not to be a big, whining baby or anything, but wasn’t I working hard enough? Do we really need to make this harder?

Yes! Yes we do. You see, in order to avoid a plateau, you have to constantly change your approach and find ways to make your routine more challenging for your muscles because they’re stronger than they were when you first began—and how incredible is that?! Here are Bill’s plans for how I’ll be spicing up my gym life:

CARDIO
Instead of the sprinting plan that I had finally started to get accustomed to, Bill now wants me to do an endurance run. This will consist of a 5 minute warm up, 20 minutes running at a comfortable speed that keeps your breathing hard but where you can still speak, and ending with a 5 minute cool down. Each week, add 5 minutes to the run portion. (By the way, I really need a sweet new playlist to rock out to on the treadmill. Suggestions please?!)

WEIGHTS
To move my weight training over from a conditioning zone to endurance, we are simply adding an extra set of each exercise (so now that’s 4 sets of 15 reps) and reducing the rest between sets to 30 seconds. Trust me, on the last set you will really be feeling the burn. Remember to split up your workouts so that one day is legs, one day is arms, etc.

ACTIVE RESTS
To get the maximum impact out of your workout, add in an ‘active rest’ in between sets of each exercise. I have no idea why they call it an active REST, because to me there is nothing restful about it and I express this opinion to Bill several times a week. But he tells me to stop yapping and get moving! Doing this is beneficial for a number of reasons: you are making the most of your time at the gym, you are keeping your heart rate up, and you are working your muscles to the limit! A few examples of active rest exercises I do with Bill are:

•Walking Lunges
•Jumping Jacks
•Jumping Squats
•Mountain Climbers

(If you want more info on any of these, leave me a comment below and I will be happy to break it all down for you!)

Now, I know that this may sound a little discouraging, because I totally felt hopeless upon learning that this was never going to get “easy” and that there is no actual end in sight. But I am sticking by because I trust Bill and David, and also because maybe, just maybe I need something in my life that doesn’t come easily? If we never leave our comfort zone, we’ll never know how much we could have grown. So, I am fighting through the new challenges (slowly — through gritted teeth and lots of profanities) so that I will learn to push myself forward when the going gets tough, not because there is a light at the end of the tunnel, but because I owe it to myself to see how far I can go.

Loni AlbertIf you have any questions hit me up on Twitter @LoniWorksItOut and I’ll answer anything — promise!

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