In a consumer-driven world, we are constant targets to false marketing and bad information. As a personal trainer and health enthusiast, I see how this affects the fitness world in particular. The role of exercise in overall health is critical, but between magazines, TV, social media, product labels, and word of mouth, we are continually flooded with information and unfortunately – the wrong word gets out. I decided that instead of standing on a cyber-soapbox to complain about all of the false claims circulating, I would touch on some of the major fitness myths – in hopes that by de-bunking them for you here, the right information will start to catch fire.
We’ve hit. . . .
Now, we’ll finish off with 4, 5, and 6. Read on…
Top Fitness Myths Debunked & Fitness Tips
#4 – I can outwork a bad diet.
No matter what your immediate goals are regarding your health – consistently neglecting either nutrition or exercise is going to set you back. Outworking a bad diet is a toxic mindset. I know, because I was living it until about 5 years ago. You work out to eat, and eat because you worked out. When you really look at it, you’re shaming yourself into exercising instead of making it a healthy part of your life. Food is fuel. Your body is a machine. Put in the right fuel and the machine works as it’s created and designed to run. Put in poor fuel and the machine won’t run efficiently; breaking down over time. Your fitness becomes so much more fun when you actually have the energy to do it! I can’t help but wonder how much better I would have felt as an athlete had I known what I do now about nutrition. Knowledge is power, don’t neglect it!
#5 – Doing ab exercises will give me a flat stomach.
How do I know this is a circulating misconception? Because I spent most of my life thinking if I could just
fit more sit-ups and crunches in, I would finally get that glorious shredded stomach. Here’s what you need to know:
- We all have abs. Just because you don’t see them defined on the outside doesn’t mean you have no abdominal strength. Give yourself credit where it’s due – a visible six-pack is a result of low body fat and/or great genetics, not thousands of crunches.
- You cannot lose body fat in a specific area of your body by training that body part more often – it’s impossible to control where body fat comes off of your body. With most of us, belly fat is unfortunately the last to come off and the first to come back.
- Consistently over-training one area of your body is never smart. Muscle growth does not happen while you’re training, it happens while you REST – taking adequate rest is key to avoiding injury and maximizing your strength.
- Think 80% diet, 20% exercise, you’ll see the greatest change both internally and externally if you
focus first on what you’re putting into your body. Of course, combining the two is ideal and necessary, but it’s important to know how important the role of nutrition is. That phrase “abs are made in the kitchen” – it’s true.
- Incorporate HIIT training (high intensity interval training) and resistance training. Choose challenging but safe weights for your exercises. Doing so will send your body into fat-burning overdrive, burning calories up to 48 hours after your workout. Best part? HIIT workouts can efficiently be done in 30 minutes or less!
#6 – Cardio and counting calories are the best way to lose weight.
There is a time and a place for counting calories. I believe it’s beneficial to know generally how many calories and nutrients you are consuming, and also to get to know portion sizes, but long-term it is unrealistic and can quickly lead to orthorexia nervosa (an unhealthy obsession with healthy eating). I look back to my calorie counting days and there was nothing healthy about what I was doing. I became so wrapped up in calories that even my workouts were centered on how many calories I was burning. There is also a time and a place for cardio, but when you’re doing this exclusively, it’s not only incredibly boring, but inefficient towards your weight loss and overall health goals. Again, I’ve been down this road. After college, I was so excited to “run off” any extra weight I had, that I essentially lost all of my muscle and didn’t go down the road I wanted to at all.
Keep these simple things in mind when wanting to lose weight:
- Muscle weighs more than fat so instead of having a “goal weight”, try aiming for losing inches, take consistent progress pictures, and tune in to how your clothes are fitting.
- Incorporate resistance training, and pick up the weights! Lifting heavy things will help you gain muscle (when done safely and smart), which in turn will help you burn fat. Your body burns more calories to maintain muscle. More muscle = more calories burned at rest.
- Focus more on quality of food, than quantity. If you can keep your diet full of nutrient-rich, wholesome foods (vegetables, meat/proteins, fruit, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, etc.), your body will let you know when you’re hungry and what you need. The results will follow.
- Start for the right reasons. Keep your motives on overall, total health.
- Find what you enjoy. What works for one person certainly will not be what works for everyone else. Exercise is meant to be fun – if it feels like a chore, you haven’t found the right thing for you yet.