How I Lost 15 Pounds in 2 Months Doing Short Bursts of Intense Exercise

How I lost 15 pounds in 2 months doing short burst of intense exercise

I had my last child at 40 and have struggled ever since to take off the baby weight. My baby is now 5!

Two years ago on New Years Eve, I resolved to exercise more in 2011. And I did. I went to Pilates 3 times a week, rode my horse several times a week, and met with a personal trainer twice a week. And you know what? I didn’t lose a single pound. Not one! Everyone said that I should lose weight based on the amount of exercise I was doing and the healthy diet that I followed. But my scale didn’t care what everybody was saying.

Now, I didn’t let the fact that I didn’t lose weight discourage me too much. My strength and stamina improved and for that I was thankful and motivated to continue.

I started 2012 following the same patterns of exercising and healthy eating, but early in the summer I took a fall from my horse that left me unable to continue with my exercise regime. Without the exercise, I was afraid I would gain weight, but my weight didn’t change much at all. For some reason, both my body and the scale liked that ugly number and were committed to it.

Every time I went to my endocrinologist or my family doctor I would mention my inability to lose weight. My endocrinologist repeatedly said that a slower metabolism is common when a person has Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Yeah, I know, but that didn’t really help change the situation. My family doctor confirmed that I had the metabolism of a slug and tried to make me feel better by telling me that I was very fit for a fat person. Oh, yes, and they both had to go and point out that I was getting older and as you get older your metabolism slows even more…

Unexpected Weight Loss Break Through

In October I went to a conference and was warned by past participants that I would probably gain weight because there was so much good food. I began to fear that the warning was accurate while at the conference. Not only was the food delicious, but I was surrounded by caring people who knew that I had Celiac’s Disease and could not eat gluten, so they went out of there way to ensure that my plate was full of safe, tasty food.  When I returned home I was afraid to step on the scale, but when I did I was surprised to find that I had lost 2 pounds.

After 2 years of trying to lose weight without success, I really analyzed what was different about the time at the conference that enabled me to lose weight. While I was at the conference, I did not exercise, I ate more than usual, and slept less than usual. That really didn’t seem like a recipe for weight loss to me.

As I thought about my time at the conference more closely, I realized that there was a combination of factors that led me to get short bursts of intense exercise: a faulty elevator and my tendency to run late. Since I was running late to classes or events and the elevator was spotty, I would run up or down the stairs several times a day, usually carrying my laptop and purse.

Resolving to Do Short Bursts of Intense Exercise

I was doubtful that short bursts of intense exercise 5 – 6 times a day could really be responsible for my weight loss, but I was willing to give it a try. 

I set a goal of exercising intensely for 1 minute 6 times a day. I wanted to move as many muscles as possible, so I chose to stand and do knee lifts while bringing the opposite elbow down to touch the knee that was raised. I did as many as  I could in a minute. An hour or two later and I would repeat the exercise. I did this 4 -6 times a day. And I lost weight. Not  super fast, but I steadily lost 1 -2 pounds a week.

When I started doing short burst of intense exercise, I was dragging by the end of the minute. After two months, I am basically running in place while doing the knee lifts. I chose to do the standing knee lifts because it accommodated my shoulder injury which is still recovering, but I have started incorporating other moves with the goal of moving as many of my muscles as I can in my short burst of exercise.

When I see an opportunity for a burst of intense exercise I take it. When I park at the super market, I don’t just park far away from the entrance, after parking, I race my 5 year old to the door. Realize that if you do this without a 5 year old you will look like a crazed lunatic. If you don’t have, or can’t borrow, a 5 year old you may want to look for a more socially acceptable burst of exercise like running up the stairs rather than taking the elevator.

I am not done; I still have more weight to lose, so I am going to continue doing short bursts of high intensity exercise because it is working for me. I have started stretching the minute out to two minutes and plan to work up to three minutes, but that is the extent of my goal: Three minutes of intense exercise six times a day, for a total of 18 minutes. It doesn’t sound like a very lofty goal when many others are resolving to run in marathons, but it is totally doable. And I like easily achievable resolutions!

I am not a doctor and I am not sure exactly why this is working for me, but I wanted to share my experience on the off chance that it may help someone who has been struggling to lose weight. Before you start any new exercise or diet regime, you should visit with a doctor. You may have other underlying factors that should be addressed by a trained medical professional. I have very good doctors and I am grateful for their wisdom, treatment, and sense of humor when putting up with me.

A note to all the exercise enthusiasts out there: I will still ride and hike and do other physical activities, but I will do them simply for the joy of it.

I’ve shared this with Works for Me Wednesday and Gallery of Favorites.



  1. says

    This is interesting. I have hypothyroid and always lose so much slower than everyone else. Instead of losing 1-2 pounds a week I rarely get .5 pounds off in a week. I may have to try this. Are you also watching what you eat?

    • says

      I am watching what I eat and have been doing so for years. I even did a food photojournal for a month hoping to find some mistake that I could rectify, but didn’t really find anything that I could change.

  2. says

    Congratulations, thanks for sharing this idea, and good luck on tripling it this year!

    I have a friend (our age) who lost 200 pounds and removed nearly all of her diabetic meds from her life, and she is now back in college studying personal and environmental fitness. I’m going to post a link to this on her facebook page: Change Your Mind, Change Your Body, Change Your Life.

    Happy New Year, Alea!

  3. says

    I am going to give this a try. Thanks for sharing! I lost over 50 lbs. about 8 years ago, but as my metabolism has slowed down after reaching the age 40 milestone and then having hormonal balances, many of the pounds have crept back. Good luck to you in the new year! I will give this exercise routine a try.

  4. says

    You’ve given me something to think about. I am your age, and I, too, seem to be stuck at my current weight regardless of changes to diet and exercise. I don’t enjoy intense exercise, but I think I could manage one minute at a time.

  5. Lori says

    Hey. This is worth a try. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism 2 years ago. It took me 15 months to lose 10 pounds. I then tried a low carb diet as many with hypo had success with it – way bad for me. I gained 8 pounds back over 6 weeks. I never changed my exercise routine, calorie counts or anything other than switching to low carb. I have been struggling the last 8 months to re lose those 8 pounds. I am going to give this a try.
    I found an exercise workout that is done during commercials and depending on the what the commercial is will determine what you do – i.e jumping jacks, jogging on the spot, etc. This might be a perfect way to try this.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • says

      Hypothyroidism definitely makes it harder to lose weight. While many people have success with low-carb, I didn’t either.

      I rarely watch tv, but I am definitely going to try exercising during the commercials the next time I do. What a great idea!

  6. Lori says

    Alea – here is the workout as I found it if you are interested:

    For every: Do:
    Car Commercial Jog in place
    Food/Restaurant comm. 30 jumping jacks
    Jewelry commercial 20 squats/lunges
    Travel commercial Plank for entirety
    Health/Beauty comm. 20 hip raises
    Fashion/Shopping comm. 30 crunches
    Movie Trailer 30 Russian twists
    Comm for TV show 40 knee highs
    PSA 10 leg lifts each side
    Fitness commercial Exercise of choice
    Miscellaneous comm Water Break

    I had to go to youtube to see how to do some of these exercises correctly but other than that it seems pretty straight forward. You figure every commercial break is probably about 3 minutes – 6 x 30 second commercials and usually there are commercial breaks every 10-15 minutes. This would give you quite a burst of fitness in a short time. Not sure how well this will work but I thought it was interesting when I found it on Pinterest

  7. says

    Loved reading this, Alea! I did something similar last summer and saw great results but didn’t stick with it and promptly forgot about it. This has motivated me to start up again. Thanks!

  8. Barb @ Frugal Local Kitchen says

    Wow! I love this post, and you really need to share it on Motivation Monday on my main blog:

    Yes, I’ve read that short bursts of intense exercise are good and can be very helpful. I read it in a book by a New York Times Fitness writer, but I can’t remember her name. The book came out recently.

    Even though I run a lot (18 miles this week and going up), I’m not losing weight like I used to. I need to add in weight/strength training for improvement. I’ll be 45 this February. I do need to work harder to be where I am.

    I copied the workout that someone else posted in the comments; I think I’ll try it myself. I think moms get frustrated about exercising because they expect to need to spend a long time doing it. I think variety and breaking the exercise down into doable amounts of time is really the way to go.

    I knew that you were gluten-free, but I didn’t know about the hypothyroidism. Good for you for staying on top of your health! I have a friend who has an autoimmune disease that she’s trying to figure out. Just like you, she’s determined to find the answers and do what she needs to do to stay healthy.

    Love the visual of racing a 5 year old across the parking lot!

    • says

      Thanks Barb! I will look and see if I can find the book online. It would be interesting to see what it says. I am sure there are ways I could maximize my efforts. I wrote myself a note to link it up to Motivation Monday. Thanks for the invite!

  9. says

    This is a brilliant idea and I cannot wait to try it out!

    Going to start in the morning. I work from home on the PC so I sit a lot. Now, while the tv is on I can find a way to work out.

    Thanks for sharing.

  10. Cindy H says

    Welcome to the revolution, folks! It’s called High Intensity Interval Training. It’s not new and there is plenty of science behind why this works. I’ve lost 25 pounds in a year due to regular weight lifting and no more than 15 minutes of cardio in a row and I am also 40+. Check out more:


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