If you are reading this post, congratulations. A lot of people shy away from the words “weight loss.” And I don’t really blame them. A lot of new trends in the health and fitness industry have turned healthy living into a scary topic. I wish it didn’t have to be that way. Today I’d like to debunk 4 of the most common myths about weight loss. I hope this isn’t just helpful information for you, but also an inspiration as you strive to reach your goals 🙂
- MYTH #1: You can spot reduce fat. Most people carry the majority of extra weight in one or two “trouble areas,” so it makes sense that they want to find a way to lose the weight form that section of their body only. A common misconception is that by doing abdominal exercises, you can burn off belly fat, or by doing leg lifts, you can lose weight from your hips. While this is true to some extent since all movement burns calories, isolation exercises (exercises that work only one muscle group at a time) are one of the least efficient ways to shed pounds. The simple fact is that you cannot lose a significant amount of weight from one part of your body at a time. When you burn fat, you lose it from your entire body, not just your trouble spots. That is why doing multi-joint exercises such as squats or jumping jacks are a much more effective method for losing weight, since you are working your whole body, and will burn extra pounds from all over, including those trouble spots.
- MYTH #2: Endless steady state cardio is the answer. Most of us know that to lose weight, we have to burn more calories than we are consuming. The traditional model for burning calories is to use cardio machines like an elliptical or treadmill at a moderate intensity for a long period of time. But let’s be honest. That method of working out gets old fast. Real fast. And to be honest with you, more often then not, people who train according to that model end up hitting a plateau and gaining back the weight they lost. But I have good news for you. There is a much better way to go about it, and it is far from boring. Any good weight loss program should include 2 main elements: (1. strength training (especially lifting heavy weights), and (2. interval training. Let me break it down for you. A simple fact you will want to remember is that muscle burns fat. So it makes sense that more muscle = more fat burning. Now before my female readers get scared away, you would have to train at an elite level for hours a day and go on steroids for you to have any chance of looking like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Seriously. We just don’t have the hormones to build muscle like men do. That’s not to say you won’t build any muscle, but what you do gain will be beautiful and by no means bulky. Another important fact is that muscle burns fat for hours after you finish your workout, whereas steady state cardio only burns calories during your workout. Strength training should be at the top of your priority list.
- Now for interval training. Like I said earlier, when you do steady state cardio for a long time over and over, eventually your body will plateau and you will stop making progress. Or worse, you’ll lose whatever progress you had made. Interval training has been proven to be a more effective way of losing weight, without losing muscle or hitting a plateau. And the good news is that you don’t have to do it for an hour. You can burn a ton of calories in just 20 minutes, and if you are also strength training, you will continue burning calories while you sleep! So how do you interval train? Simple. Pick any exercise (running, calisthenics, lifting) and perform it almost as hard as you can for 30 seconds. Then rest for 30 seconds. Repeat for 20-60 minutes. If you are a more advanced athlete, you can work for 50 seconds and rest for 10. Just do whatever feels right for you. The important thing is that you push your limits and don’t be afraid to work really hard (but not to the point of injury). Alternating between hard work and rest jump starts your metabolism, maintains or builds lean muscle, and will torch way more calories than if you jog on a treadmill for an hour.
- MYTH #3: Weight loss is about achieving a lower number on the scale. I believe that fitness is about a lot more than a number. It’s about becoming the best, healthiest version of you. Everyone is different. Two people who are the same height can have a 20 lb. weight difference and both be healthy and fit. If you are following my above weight loss method of combining strength training and interval training, you will not just be losing fat, but also gaining muscle. A pound of muscle is a lot smaller than a pound of fat, so while you will lose weight in fat, you will also gain weight in muscle. Don’t get too hung up on the number on the scale. Just strive to perform better than you did yesterday, and your body will change accordingly.
- MYTH #4: Losing weight has to be a miserable combination of dieting and exercises you hate. No, no, NO!! Getting fit should be an enjoyable (albeit difficult) journey. It doesn’t have to be miserable all the time. I think we tend to focus too much on what we have to eliminate from our diet rather than what we should be putting into it. Instead of going on a crazy no-sugar, low-fat, low-carb diet, start simply eating healthier. It’s not just about cutting down on how much sugar you eat (although that might be a good idea). It’s about finding healthy alternatives (like fruit) that fuel and nourish your body instead of deplete it. Don’t diet and exercise for a month only to quit because you are miserable. Start by gradually making healthier food choices and incorporating more movement into your lifestyle. It’s not about dieting and exercising. It’s about nourishing and training your body so that you can be the best version of yourself and get the most out of your life.
If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you!