Body image. Everyone is either chasing a new look, trying to look like someone else, or trying to look like society thinks we should. The food industry in America has set us up to fail; they add preservatives and chemicals to food to make it taste good and therefore taking out the nutritional value. We need to get back to the basics, eating to fuel our bodies, not eating for money saving, cheap food! Advertising as also both allowed us to advance the population we are trying to reach, but also filling our minds with quick fixes and wanting to look like the people on TV. We want the quick pill that made the 300lb man magically lose 100lbs in 1 month, or the at home piece of equipment that burns double the calories in half the time. Well, it doesn’t work like that. Fitness is an equation, diet and exercise equal a healthy lifestyle. And to get there we balance the equation of energy in vs. energy out with whole foods and effort! This blog post is going to teach you the top myths about losing weight that you need to STOP listening to and to START thinking about the simple fact of balancing the equation!
“Doing ab exercises every day will give me a toned stomach”
You CANNOT target fat loss. We all wish we could just point to a place on our body and make it look like that girl on social media, but that isn’t going to happen. Doing abs every day is not going to give you a six-pack, it’s going to give you very sore abs and maybe even an injury! Just like doing arms isn’t going to shrink the “wings” you have flapping, and doing inner leg exercises isn’t going to give you a thigh gap. These things WILL, however, allow you to grow those muscles and therefore burn more calories overall, but you cannot target fat loss. Your body is going to lose it wherever it wants, and if you aren’t seeing the results in those places, keep working hard overall! So when you see advertisements for a pill that will target your mid-section, don’t be fooled, there is no channel for the pill to travel straight to your stomach and specifically burn those fat cells. So stop doing 500 crunches a day and start focusing on your diet, because having visible abs is all about losing overall body fat.
“If I eat less, I’ll lose weight”
This is probably the number one myth when it comes to weight loss. Eating 2 meals a day and separating them by 12 hours is not going to help you lose weight. The body needs a certain amount of nutrients to function, and when he doesn’t get them it begins to search elsewhere for it, causing hormonal and chemical imbalances, and thus, weight gain. It may, at the beginning, allow you to drop a few pounds, but that doesn’t mean these are fat pounds. It could be water or even muscle that you are losing! And if eating less allows you to lose weight and maybe even fat, it isn’t going to last. You will end up starving yourself, then overindulging and gaining all the weight back! So please, do yourself a favor and EAT. Small meals filled with
good, nutritious foods to keep you full and energized.
“I’ll just burn off the extra calories at the gym”
Another fan favorite “I’ll just do an extra 10 minutes of cardio tomorrow to burn that off.” Let’s take a brownie. On average, a brownie has 150-200kcals in it. That means it would take 15-20 minutes of intense exercise to burn off those calories, not to mention the damage done by sugar spikes and preservatives. Imagine if this was the case every day. Every day you overindulge on sweets or greasy food, try burning all that off in the gym, plus your regular daily exercise routine on top of that. It’s not practical. You might be able to burn off that extra cookie once a week, but if you consistently do this every day, you’ll slowly start to lack the motivation to continually ‘burn off” that extra food. Besides, who has the time to spend 2 hours in the gym every day trying to burn off mistakes from the day before? Exercise should not be a punishment for what we ate, but rather a celebration of what our bodies can do. Losing weight is not just about exercise, it’s about nutrition as well. You cannot out train a bad diet. No one in fitness magazines or bikini commercials just exercised and ate whatever they wanted. They ate a clean, healthy diet and perhaps added exercise on top of that. So stop justifying eating crappy food by saying you’ll burn it off the next day because you will not make any forward progress with that approach.
“All calories are equal”
In terms of numbers, yes 100 calories are actually 100 calories. But a 100 calorie cookie or 100 calories of fruit or vegetables is not equal. This is because of the caloric breakdown of the food. A cookie or candy has processed elements and refined sugars, whereas fruit is natural sugar. The body uses whole carbohydrates or protein more efficiently than processed foods, which also keeps the hormones and chemicals in your body balanced. A calorie is a measure of energy used by the body, but if we don’t fuel ourselves with foods that are easily digested or nutrient-rich, we are not getting the full benefit of the energy. Also, whole foods like rice, meat, vegetables, and fruit keep you feeling full longer, and suppresses your appetite so you are less likely to overeat or indulge in those mid-afternoon donuts or bagels! So be smart about those last few calories of the day, they could leave you to feel full or leave you feeling flat.
“Carbs and fats are bad for me”
Refined, processed and fake fats and carbs are bad for you. Whole, rich and real fats and carbs are good for you. Losing weight does not mean cutting carbs or fats. My previous blog post talked all about good carbs vs. bad carbs, and how beneficial carbs actually are for you! The same goes for fats. There are good fats and bad fats, and we need the good ones for necessary body functions. This does NOT mean we need a high carb AND high-fat diet. One or the other. Everyone responds differently to different macronutrients. Some eat a low carb, high-fat diet and lose weight and others eat a high carb, low-fat diet and lose weight, it’s just a matter or trial and error. Carbs and fats have the same function in the body, to give us energy. And if we eat a lot of both of these, we tend to store more fat because we have an overabundance of energy-rich nutrients. So don’t be fooled by diets telling you to cut all carbs or fats, just be smart about them. Cut the refined sugar, and processed foods and fuel up with the good stuff. Stick to olive oil and avocados, sweet potatoes and oats rather than processed frozen dinners and high sugar protein bars.
“Fad diets work for everyone, that’s why they’re so popular”
True, Fad diets work. False, they are easy to adhere to for years. All the popular diets on the internet and TV do work yes, but only for a short period of time. For more information about why fad diets don’t work, check out our blog here. Everyone always says “I need to go on a diet,” but in reality, you need to change your habits! Even just a little bit every day, only eat fast food 1 time a day instead of 3. Have a 12oz. soda in the afternoon instead of a 24oz bottle. This can all be simple changes that lead to bigger things. Once you start to see the weight loss, it because easier to make better choices. It is not about how fast you can lose the weight, but about how long you can keep it off. So many people lose 50-100lbs dieting and look great for a while, but as soon as they stop following the diet, they gain all the weight back. What if we started to focus on lifestyle changes rather than the “fastest way to lose weight”. Even if it takes 1 year to lose 50lbs instead of 3 months, you will be more likely to stick to the small changes you have made in your life rather than the quick fix you did for 3 months. As soon as you stop looking for the “quick fix” and start looking for the healthier choices, you will see changes. You will see that fad diets are not sustainable and that education and action of healthy habits can truly change your life in the long run!
“I’m going to be hungry all the time”
If you’re currently eating 2,500 calories a day without knowing, you may end up feeling hungry more often when you start making healthier choices. This doesn’t mean you drop down from 2,500 calories a day to 1,500 calories in a matter or a day because this will cause significant weight gain because your body will go into starvation mode. Instead, start by making small changes and slowing lowering your calories week by week. And if you are someone who eats a lower number of calories a day and still aren’t losing weight, look at what kind of calories you are eating. Complex carbs and protein are going to keep you feeling fuller longer. Eating junk food or processed foods tend to leave you lethargic and unsatisfied as opposed to whole foods that give you energy and keep you feeling full and focused! So making healthier choices to lower your body fat doesn’t mean you’ll be hungry all the time, it just means you need to be smarter about the kinds of food you eat to ensure you stay full for longer periods of time.
“I have to spend hours in the gym”
If you are eating a well-balanced diet every day, you do not need to spend 2 hours in the gym every day. Heck, you don’t even have to go every day. A healthy lifestyle and weight loss all comes back to nutrition. If you eat the right foods, with the right portions, at the right times, you can lose weight without countless hours in the gym, maybe even NO time in the gym. People tend to think if they burn 500 more calories a day than they eat it will amount to losing a pound a week, but that’s not always the case. If you work out too much and aren’t fueling your body, you will also begin to store more fat when you do eat because your body goes into starvation mode. So again, it’s all about balance and your body. You can also limit your time in the gym by making it count. Get to the gym, get stuff done and get out! A good, intense 45-minute workout will be enough for 1 day. And doing that 4-5 times a week is ideal to aid in weight loss. Yes, more time in the gym is going to allow you to possibly lose weight faster, but that doesn’t mean its 100% necessary to lose any weight at all. Do what your schedule allows for. If you can only get to the gym for 30 minutes, make them count by doing some full body movements that will burn a lot of calories in a short period of time. It’s all about balance….and 100% effort towards both exercise and nutrition.
“Losing weight means the scale moves down in a linear fashion”
This isn’t always true. Some people can continue to lose weight week after week, and some people lose weight one week and gain the next. It isn’t always a perfect decline, so trust the process. Don’t get discouraged by the scale. In fact, STAY OFF THE SCALE. If you are a numbers person and get on the scale every morning and night, stop it. Get on the scale once a week, and then you can celebrate the success rather than dwelling on the loss of .2lbs every morning. And please, for the love of God, stop saying “muscle weighs more than fat.” False, 1lb of fat and 1lb of muscle is still 1 POUND! Muscle is smaller, by surface area than fat. Which means more muscle and less fat means you are smaller, but it does NOT mean you are lighter! Decreasing body fat and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is hard, very hard. But if you trust the process and focus on small successes you will go a long way! Don’t get down on yourself because you happened to lose 5 lbs. one month and only 2 the next, that’s A LOT of fat. So pride yourself on sticking to your nutrition 100% without indulging for 3 days rather than being upset that the scale only moved 1lb in 2 weeks. Whether you spend your time discouraged by numbers or celebrating victories, the time is going to pass either way. So be happy with where you are now because it is one step closer to where you were BEFORE you made the steps towards healthier living.
“I can just spend 45 minutes on the elliptical”
Yes, you can spend countless hours on cardio equipment on the gym if that is how you want to try and lose weight. But let me tell you, it is very unlikely that you will lose weight by just doing a cardiovascular activity. If you have 20% body fat to lose and haven’t done any exercise in 10 years, then yes that is probably a good place to start your journey. But for everyone else that has been working out and eating right awhile and still can’t seem to lose weight, look into your workout routine. So many people think you can burn enough calories by the numbers the cardio machine tells you, but this isn’t always true. Those numbers depend solely on height and weight, and not about the intensity and effort putting forth. So if you have been doing a bunch of cardio every week and things are changing, try weight lifting or HIIT. Lifting weights will allow you to burn calories as well as build muscle. And if we build muscle we will burn more calories with daily functions because the energy demands for muscle are higher than for fat. Steady state cardio may also halt your progress because of muscle memory. If you do the same thing day in and day out, your body is going to get used to it, and it will stop needing so much energy to perform the task, and therefore you will not burn as many calories. So watch a few videos or read a few blogs, grab a pair of dumbbells and turn over a new leaf. Stop spending mindless hours doing steady state cardio and start doing something more exciting with your workouts!
There you have it. Cold hard facts by someone who studied exercise and the body. We have to remember to find the perfect amount of all factors to balance the equation and slim down. Not only does proper nutrition and exercise help you lose weight, it also helps to keep you healthier overall (lowering the risk of serious health problems) as well as adding years to your life and life to your years! No one ever regrets a workout they did, they only regret the one they did not do! This does not, however, go the same for food, because sometimes we regret the cookie we ate, and sometimes it’s so delicious and totally worth treating yourself! So find the variables that work best for YOUR fitness equation and get to work; stop putting off results by listening to bad advice, do your research and find what works for you!