It feels like misconceptions about diet and exercise have been around just as long as the fitness industry itself. It can be confusing to know what to believe or trust. That’s why I’ve always made it my mission to stay up to date on the latest science-backed information about diet and exercise. Nothing makes me more frustrated than watching someone abide by guidelines or beliefs that have been proven false. Whether it’s outdated information around what makes a good full body workout, or the myths around strength training, or the crazy diet trends that constantly seem to pop up. It can be exhausting for people to keep up, that’s why I believe that part of my job as a fitness trainer is to educate my clients on the facts.
Although there is a lot of misinformation out there, there are some falsehoods that seem to be really pervasive these days, so I thought I would take today’s blog to do some good old-fashioned myth-busting! I hope this information clears things up for you as you try to stay on your health and wellness journey.
Myth #1: You can’t possibly be healthy if you aren’t thin.
Oh my gosh, I can’t even count the number of times I’ve heard this one! First of all, what one person considers to be thin might not be the same for another person, which is to say that “thinness” outside of a medical definition, is pretty relative. But really, that’s besides the point. For those of you chasing this goal of being “thin,” I would instead, invite you to focus on the following four things:
- Exercise regularly. Move your body. Get your heart rate up through cardio. Take a full body workout class. Commit to strength training a few times a week to increase your muscle mass. Find something you love to do so that you’ll stick to it. Your heart, your lungs, your muscles, your whole body will thank you.
- Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Did you have those posters of the food pyramid in your school cafeteria when you were growing up? Though it’s changed somewhat over the years, one section that’s always been toward the bottom of that pyramid was the fruits and vegetables category. Why? Because they are whole foods that are packed with nutrients and free of preservatives and processed junk. They are nutrient dense foods because they’re low in calories yet high in all that good stuff that your body needs to be healthy.
- Don’t smoke. The risks of smoking are very well known, so I’m sure I don’t have to explain myself much here. Just don’t do it. And if you are a smoker, look into the many programs and aides out there to help you quit. If you do nothing else for your body this year, do that. Need motivation? Here are some really specific benefits to quitting.
- Mind your alcohol intake. I’m sure you too have heard the statistic that the pandemic caused people to drink more. It’s been a stressful few years for sure. But alcohol, while okay in moderation, can affect your sleep, your diet, and be detrimental to your health overall. Check out more information on alcohol and your health here.
So the next time you’re staring yourself down in the mirror or chasing that ever elusive goal of being “thin,” try focusing on these healthy fab-four guidelines instead.
Myth #2: Exercise will make up for my terrible eating habits.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but this is completely false. You simply cannot exercise your way out of a junkie diet. Exercise on its own is great for you. Mixing up different forms of cardio and strength training can help you sleep better, it can give you endorphins (those amazing feel-good hormones), and yes, it does burn calories. However, running on the treadmill for an hour won’t negate the five days of super-sized fast food meals you treated yourself to all week long. What you eat matters. Diet and exercise are meant to work together. This is especially true when it comes to weight loss. Exercise alone will not provide you with the calorie burn you need to lose weight effectively. In fact, around 80% of what you look like is due to your eating habits. 80%! So complement all that work in the gym with healthier meals that include more whole nutrient-dense foods!
If you’re interested in learning more about the 80% statistic, here’s a great article from Women’s Health.
Myth #3: Women and men require different exercises.
Yes, this is a myth! No matter what you’ve heard, women and men do not require different workouts. We are no longer (thankfully!) following that misguided belief that women should only do cardio so they don’t get “bulky.” Conversely, men should do more than just lift weights if they want to achieve whole body health. What makes women and men different are their hormonal make-ups. And while that may mean a difference in muscle strength, it does not mean women and men require different fitness plans.
Here’s a cool article that corrects this misconception even more.
As long as there is a fitness industry, there will always be fitness myths. As the Bodyologist, I promise you that I will continue to get to the bottom of things so that I can be a source of science-back information that you can count on as you continue on your health journey.
Until next time!