As we are wrapping up October and starting to prepare for the holiday season, our fitness routines and healthy eating regimens often get thrown out the window. Since this is the season of indulgence, I know most people aren’t thinking about trying to get into stellar shape right now. However, as January approaches I’m sure we’ll all be singing a different tune. With that in mind I’m debunking some of the most popular fitness myths to help steer you in the right direction when you are ready to jump onto the fitness bandwagon.
Myth 1: Less Food = More Weight Loss
I think this is the most popular fitness myth of all because it is more or less a half truth. Yes, your body does need to burn more calories than you consume to lose weight. I warn you though, not all calories are created equal.
Food is your fuel. It helps provide energy and repair your body. Therefore, you need to make sure you are eating enough for your body to power you through your workouts. Very low calorie diets can actually cause your metabolism to slow down and conserve energy and store fat. Many studies recommend cutting no more than 250-500 calories per day from your diet (depending on the intensity and duration of your exercise) to help keep your metabolism elevated and it is a much more sustainable method.
Also be sure you’re not eating processed zero calorie foods. These are filled with chemicals and other garbage that you should not be eating. Opt for a balanced diet rich in plant based foods, lean proteins and whole grains. I’ve found my metabolism operates most optimally when I’m eating a clean diet and balancing my macros at about 25% Fat, 35% Protein and 40% Carbohydrates. To calculate your custom macros, click here.
Myth 2: You Must Do 30-60 Minutes of Cardio Per Day for a Sleek, Toned Physique
Cardio is a calorie burning powerhouse. However, long (not to mention boring) periods of aerobic exercise can also break down muscle and elevate your stress hormones. Having chronically elevated stress hormones such as cortisol are what cause excess storage of unwanted fat and leave you feeling tired and sluggish.
Additionally, losing muscle mass is counter productive for achieving and maintaining your sleek and toned physique. You see, muscle is a metabolically active tissue. This means that it burns calories by itself while at rest. I don’t know about you, but that seems like a great deal to me!
As far as cardio is concerned, it’s best to mix up your routine and incorporate High Intensity Interval Training aka HIIT a few times per week. These workouts can be done in half the time with twice the calorie burn.
Myth #3: Lifting Weights Will Make You Bulky and Manly
Ladies, I can’t stress this enough, lifting weights will not (I repeat, will not) make you bulky. Some people are naturally more muscular than others (myself included) but women are not naturally capable of adding tons of muscular bulk to their bodies. It just isn’t in our genetic makeup. We simply do not have enough testosterone in our bodies to build bulky muscle like men do.
Furthermore, I hate to break it to you but the women who you admire with the sleek and toned bodies did not get that way by lifting 5 lb dumbbells. In order to truly tone and sculpt your body, you need to be lifting heavy. The amount you lift is unique to you but you should be struggling to complete your last few reps with good form. For example, if you are doing 10-12 reps, by rep 9 or 10 you should definitely need a break.
Myth #4: Weigh Yourself Daily to Keep Yourself Accountable
This might work for some people but I can tell you it certainly does not work for most. There are so many things that effect that number you see on the scale. Also, you are so much more than that number on the scale. Most people also will see major fluctuations in their weight throughout the course of the day so it can get into your head. The best measure of progress is by measuring your body itself as well as how you feel and how your clothes fit.
Most people get discouraged when they work out for several months straight and only lose 5 or 10 pounds. Focusing solely on your weight is silly because as you continue to exercise and your body composition changes your weight could actually increase as your body is getting smaller.
Myth #5: It’s About 80% Diet and 20% Exercise
This is the biggest fitness myth of all. There is no science that can determine a blanket amount of diet and exercise to achieve your fitness goals. Instead, as I stated previously, focus on making clean whole food choices most of the time and working out hard.
Also, if you really want to see success, I strongly recommend using a meal log such as My Plate or MyFitnessPal. It is so easy to get off track and forget when you aren’t tracking your meals. Using this in conjunction with a fitness tracker can really help you to stay accountable. I know nobody likes to track macros but it makes a world of difference when you’re trying to lose weight. Also after a while you will learn to eat more intuitively and can slowly ease away from it.
It is also important to allow yourself a treat meal or two per week. This helps to keep you sane and helps you to appreciate your hard work.
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If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing it’s time to switch up your routine. Coming soon I’ll be launching some new fitness programs that will help set you up for success with your fitness goals. I’ll teach you a maintainable approach to health and fitness and be there as your personal cheerleader every step of the way. These programs will be able to be completed in 45 minutes or less either in the gym or at home so you can have more time to tackle your to-do list. To read more about how I recently overcame fitness burnout, click here.
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