BUSTING THE FITNESS MYTHS
BUYING INTO THESE FITNESS MYTHS WILL DOOM YOU TO FAILURE
But, if you have been reading my blog and are motivated to start making some changes in your life; you could wait until January 1st to do it --- but why? Now is as good a time as any to get started (yes, even those of you who are currently deployed on your annual "HOLIDAY BINGE").
I want you to be successful at this endeavor. But in order for this to happen, you will have to shed some "myths" before you can hope to shed any pounds. While I was sitting watching it snow and ice all day Friday, I created a list of "Fitness / Weight Loss Myths" --- many of which I used to believe myself. Take a few minutes to read these myths as well as their solutions (you'll have to stick around to the bottom of the post for some of these solutions). It's time to stop sabotaging both your health and your workouts! These are in no particular order, coming up as I thought of them. Enjoy, and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
- CARDIO IS BETTER THAN STRENGTH FOR WEIGHT LOSS: This is a myth that refuses to die (HERE). No matter how you slice it, this one is false. Really false. Sprints are better for weight loss than long distance running (HERE), and Strength Training is better than sprints. And the thing is, it's not even close. Take just a few minutes to look at the research on the topic for yourself. I feel that this issue is important enough to have written several BLOG POSTS on it. If you like to run, fine ---- but don't get too crazy with it. And make absolutely sure to incorporate interval (sprint) training and Strength Training into your regimen.
- IF I CAN DO ENOUGH SITUPS, IT WILL GET RID OF MY BELLY: Although this is false, it is almost as widely believed as it was when I was in college. By the way, you really shouldn't be doing situps at all --- ever (HERE). Instead, visit THIS PAGE to learn more about the best ways to go about core strengthening. The only way you are ever going to lose the belly fat is to stop eating the foods you already know you shouldn't be eating (and maybe some that you erroneously believe to be healthy). The diet I recommend is found at the bottom of the page.
- I SIMPLY DON'T HAVE ENOUGH TIME TO GET IN SHAPE: This one is probably true --- if you are doing P90-X or one of the similar programs. Or spending so much time driving to the gym every nite that you are falling asleep on the way home. I am not against either video programs or working out in a gym. But let's be brutally honest with each other for just a moment. Who has the time to work out for an hour to an hour and a half a day ---- especially if you work and / or have a family? The key to working out is "Shorter Duration / Higher Intensity". Stop slogging through your workout, shorten it up significantly, and ratchet up the intensity level. Short, high intensity workouts are one of the beauties of Crossfit and numerous other similar programs. It all goes back to the old adage of MED.
- TROUBLE LOSING WEIGHT? JUST WORK OUT HARDER: A while ago, I had a woman ask me if she should start walking 15 miles a day, since at 12 miles, she had plateaued as far as weight loss was concerned. She was making a big mistake with this way of thinking. The real problem with this approach is the fact that it can lead to weight gain instead of loss by BURNING OUT YOUR ADRENAL GLANDS.
- YOU SHOULD BE TOTALLY EXHAUSTED AFTER A WORKOUT: This sort of goes along with the "No Pain / No Gain" myth that I am not even going to bother to mention today. I debunked this myth in the RHABDO POST from a few months ago.
- YOU SHOULD BE CARB-LOADING AFTER EXERCISE: This is old-school long-distance running kind of stuff. Eating an apple or something similar is great after you workout. If you want to understand why I am not a huge fan of 1980's-like carb-loading, go HERE ---- or just continue on to the next two points.
- VEGETARIAN / VEGAN DIETS ARE GREAT FOR WEIGHT LOSS: This is a great point of contention, even among those who would consider themselves "experts" in the field (HERE is a person saying it's OK as long as you have great Gut Health). Although I am a big fan of eating lots and lots of vegetables / vegetation, I also believe that in the majority of the cases, your results will be compromised without adequate dietary protein (HERE). Oh, and by the way, grain is not considered vegetation (see next bullet). When you feed a beef grass and hay, they get lean. When you feed a beef grain, they gain weight --- rapidly! This does not even take into account the whole GLUTEN thing, which tends to fool people because 60% of the time, their symptoms manifest differently than anyone (medical doctors included) expects --- far differently (HERE).
- SEX IS A GREAT WEIGHT LOSS WORKOUT: As much as I would love to tell you that this one is not only true, but double-dog true; I can't. Although there are a slew of undeniable health benefits to sex, the truth is, sex burns about as many calories per minute as (gulp) walking. And lasts on average (gulp) about 6 minutes. Whether male or female, if you feel like this part of your life is lacking, you may to take a moment and at least scan through the dozen or so posts I've written on this topic (HERE).
- WORKING OUT MAKES YOU HUNGRY: False, false, and false! Sitting around on your duff and watching TV makes you hungry --- for junk! And let's face it, the more junk you eat, the more junk you want ---- IT'S ADDICTIVE! Exercise is probably the greatest natural appetite suppressant there is. Not to mention, as you start to see the changes in your body that your lifestyle modification program is making, it will motivate you that much more stay on the wagon.
- DIET SODA IS A GREAT ALTERNATIVE TO REGULAR SODA IN THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE: Again, false. This one is soooooo false that just the opposite is true. Diet soda will actually make you gain weight (HERE).
- IF I WORK OUT HARD ENOUGH, I CAN CHEAT MY DIET AND STILL LOSE WEIGHT: Way too many people believe this is true --- I used to believe it myself. The reality of the situation is that you can't work out hard enough to overcome a crappy diet. And if you think you are getting away with said diet today, give it a few years. As you BURN YOUR BRAIN and SUGAR REGULATIONS SYSTEMS out, the downhill slide will be brutal and it will be rapid. Case in point, attend a class reunion.
- GETTING IN SHAPE WILL AUTOMATICALLY MAKE ME LOSE WEIGHT: This is not necessarily true --- particularly if you have some sort of underlying CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY ILLNESS, HORMONAL DYSFUNCTION, or ENDOCRINE OR GUT ISSUE. Losing weight might also might not happen if you have a relatively small amount of weight you want to lose. Allow me to explain. Because equal amounts of muscle weigh much more than the same amount of fat, as you get rid of the fat and build muscle, you might actually gain some weight. No big deal. The more muscle mass you carry, the more likely you are to appear "fat" on a BMI CHART, when the reality is just the opposite.
- AS A FEMALE, WON'T I GET BIG AND BULKY IF I LIFT WEIGHTS? Seriously, this is the last thing on the planet that the average woman should be concerned about when it comes to Strength Training. It's difficult enough for a man to get big and bulky from lifting weights --- with about 20 times the amount of testosterone in their body (the male hormone that drives libido in both sexes and builds muscles). No form of exercise will make dramatic changes to the female physique faster than Strength Training. Period --- end of story! But big and bulky.....? No worries. Trust me women; start a SIMPLE STRENGTH TRAINING program (2-3 times a week for 15 minutes or so per session) and watch what happens. You will see more results in six weeks than you would see with a year of jogging.
- ANKLE WEIGHTS ARE A GREAT WAY TO STRENGTHEN YOUR LEGS: Only if you want the experience of blowing out your knees and roaching your low back. Instead, get a weighted vest. This will not only protect your extremities, it will help you ladies protect yourselves from OSTEOPOROSIS as well --- particularly those who like to walk for exercise.
- DOING ALL THE RIGHT THINGS AUTOMATICALLY GUARANTEES ME SUCCESS AT WEIGHT LOSS: Again, if you have Chronic Illnesses, all bets are off the board. If you fail to deal with the underlying problem first, weight loss will be all but impossible (HERE and HERE are examples of this). By the way, Kettlebells (right) are an amazing weight loss tool. See the next point.
- LOSING WEIGHT RAPIDLY IS NOT ONLY BAD FOR YOU, IT'S JUST ABOUT IMPOSSIBLE: This one is tricky. However, if you do things the right way, it is very possible, and science is actually coming around to this fact (HERE). For instance, HERE is the amazing story of Tracy Reifkind's legitimate hundred pound weight loss in 100 days doing one of my all time favorite exercises a couple times a week --- KETTLEBELL SWINGS.
- I CAN'T GET FIT SINCE I CAN'T AFFORD A GYM MEMBERSHIP: I only thought I had heard everything! It takes little or no equipment to get good workouts (HERE is an interesting page on building your own gym equipment). If you don't want to go that route, you could do like JACK LaLANE did for TV and do all your workouts with nothing but a chair. Gym memberships are great, but not being able to afford one is not a valid excuse for not working out. Go online and search. You will find hundreds of simple exercises you can do in your home without any equipment whatsoever. HERE is a page for those who want to start Strength Training at home with minimal equipment (an exercise ball and cheap set of dumbells).
- WOMEN SHOULD WORKOUT DIFFERENTLY THAN THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS: Really? Women need to engage in Strength Training ---- probably just as much or more than men. Unfortunately, far too many are spinning their wheels doing too much cardio (and eating way too many Whole Grains). Read CARDIO -VS- STRENGTH to understand why this is true.
- THERE IS ONE PROGRAM THAT WILL WORK FOR EVERYONE: Not true.
- AVOID SALT AT ALL COSTS: THIS ONE could have been stuck in among those old standbys in the bullet point below.
- DIETARY FAT MAKES YOU FAT: Could we pleeeaaase get past this one once and for all? This is a myth; pure, plain, and simple (HERE). Like I told you earlier, THIS is what makes you fat. All of this reminds me of the old days ---- you know, when you heard things like, "eggs are bad for you" or "butter is bad for you, eat margarine instead", etc, etc, etc.
- WORKOUTS HAVE TO BE BORING: Where do I start with this one? Check out the Swing Boarding on the left. If you can't find a combination of workouts that are at the very least, tolerable; you are simply looking for excuses not to train.
- WE NEED "CHEAT DAYS" TO LOSE WEIGHT: Really? While CHEAT DAYS can be great for some people, for hardcore sugar and carb addicts, they will throw you into a tailspin every time, rekindling the very cravings that you are trying to get rid of.
- FRUITS AND VEGETABLES ARE THE SAME: If you are really struggling with your weight, you may need to lay off the fruit for awhile --- particularly the fruit that's high on a Glycemic Index. Fruit has the propensity to raise blood sugar far more than vegetables (HERE). This, as you will learn from the following link, causes weight gain. Particularly true in people who are INSULIN RESISTANT / PRE-DIABETIC.
- SOY IS A GREAT FORM OF PROTEIN: Soy is a plant-based (phyto) estrogen. Google "Estrogen Dominance" and you'll see how big of a problem this is for both women and men. If you want to read about the effects of putting excess estrogen in your body, go HERE.
- SPORTS DRINKS ARE HEALTHY: Healthy? Sure; that's how they're marketed. But healthy? I should say not. Most are the SUGAR equivalent of drinking soda --- a known dehydrator. By the way, the same thing could be said of most FRUIT JUICES as well.
- THERE'S THIS NEW SUPPLEMENT THAT IS SUPPOSED TO BURN FAT LIKE A STEEL-MELTING BLAST FURNACE: There's a sucker born every minute. Don't be one of them. The only shortcuts to weight loss and fitness involve ridding your body of excess inflammation. What does that look like? Try THIS on for size!
- BREAKFAST IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY: While I used to think this way, and still believe that for some people it's true, I've definitely changed the way I think about this topic because of what's come out in recent peer review (HERE).