Re: Ankle weights - will they help?
When you're on the treadmill are you running or just walking. 'Spot reduction' is an exercise myth that died in the 90s - so to reduce your thighs you're just going to have to go for overall loss. Though you CAN spot tone.
Any additional weight will add resistance and make you work harder. When I do lunges I hold two, 10lb weights and i definately work harder because of it.
Also, I don't think twenty minutes is enough - you must do at least 40 minutes of cardio to get your heart pumping (60% more or something like that) You have to be absolutely sweating and panting if you want to see a difference. I see people (esp women) in the gym ALL the time walking on the treadmill or just doing a light job and not even sweating and wonder why they waste their time.
When you're working out ask yourself, 'on a scale of 1 to 10, how much effort am i putting in?' As long as you're young with no medical conditions, theres no reason NOT to push yourself. Think about all those people who join the miliary and are forced to run, climb, lift etc - but how often do you hear about people having a heart attack in boot camp??!! None!!
When i first starting working out seriously with cardio I could literally only run for 3 minutes before I felt absolutely exhausted. The problem was twofold. One, i was not breathing properly -in fact I was often HOLDING my breath!!! So, I made a concerted effort to breath - suck in air, blow it out (obviously and loudly) After doing this, i could then do 20 minutes instead of 3.
Two, psychologically is difficult to exert yourself; you feel your heart pounding, you feel tired etc and you feel like you 'ought' to rest. But, try and distract your mind from thinking about your exertion - cover up the treadmill counter (nothing worse than watching...1 minute....2 minutes...) also, get yourself some uptempo music to listen to through a walkman. Also, aim for 3-6 miles per hour - forget the gentle trot (unless you're already in shape)
So, my suggestion is MORE EFFORT!!! Believe me I HATE working out, but if I'm not absolutely panting when I'm done, that just a waste of 1 hour.
Also, try rollerblading/rollarskating - thats REALLY good for legs and its a great cardio workout too.