5 Fitness Myths–DEBUNKED
It’s been a hot minute since I’ve written a blog post. Between launching the Donuts & Dumbbells Community and opening up spots for 1-on-1 training, it’s been a bit busy over here! And while tired, I’m loving every minute of it. After years of experimenting and honestly, being confused and putzing around, I finally have a vision for my business and how I want to help women everywhere realize that health and fitness doesn’t have to be complicated. That thought inspired this blog post today. It’s so hard to know what’s right and wrong in the fitness industry. There’s information everywhere and a new, crazy, fad diet popping up every day. Fitness shouldn’t be complicated and there are lots of myths out there that make it hard to understand what we should be doing to take care of our bodies. So today I’ve compiled a little list of fitness myths and their truths to hopefully clear up some of the confusion.
1.) Fad Diets
Oof, this is a big one. I get so aggravated when I see these crazy diets pop up about how to lose 10 pounds in 10 days by only eating fruit. Or eating 7 bananas a day for 21 days…yes that’s a real one I actually heard from a client who did it. Guys, fad diets DON’T WORK! The diet industry is a $60 billion industry! How do you think they made all that money?? Because their programs don’t work! Sure, you might drop a few pounds over the next 21 days of doing the diet, but then the second you stop, you gain all the weight back and potentially more and go right back to the diet industry to try something else. These fad diets also provide incorrect and potentially dangerous information about nutrition and what our bodies need. Restricting our eating takes a toll on our bodies as well as psychologically. We lose that connection with our bodies and start listening to external cues on what and when and how much to eat, instead of focusing on internal cues like true hunger feelings and satisfaction. These diets are also limiting foods as well which means there is less variety in your diet if you follow them. We need a variety of foods in order to get all the nutrients and minerals we need to function and feel our best. These diets that restrict the foods to a small subset, also restrict our nutrient and mineral intake. Most people can’t sustain a diet over multiple years and nor should you! Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed, not restricted. So stop fad dieting and enjoy life!
2.) Running will ruin your knees
This is one I’ve personally heard a lot being a runner. The second anyone finds out you run more than 3 miles at a time, they break out the ‘ol ‘that’ll ruin your knees, ya know?’ #facepalm
Now, I’m not saying that people who run don’t have knee issues…there is a thing called ‘runner’s knee’. However, it’s not entirely running that’s the problem. It’s running with bad form. When running long distances, our bodies fatigue and we start losing focus on form and start focusing on just finishing the run. When our form starts to go, we start shrugging our shoulders, we don’t extend our legs back far enough on each stride, we don’t drive with our knees as much as we should, and we start to slouch and put more pressure on our back. All these things can add pressure on our joints, which cause wear and tear in the cartilage, which can lead to knee pain and ‘runner’s knee’. However, when we wear the proper shoes, focus on good form, and gradually increase our intensity and length of running, it can actually be beneficial to our joints and bone health. Our bodies are amazing and can adapt to almost any situation we put them in. So if we start to run and slowly build up over time, our bodies will adjust and actually build more cartilage and strengthen the muscles and tendons around our joints to support that running motion. So, no, running won’t ruin your knees when done properly (proper shoes, correct form, slowly building up intensity over time) and might actually help prevent runner’s knee and loss of cartilage.
3.) Working out every single day will get me the results I want
When people start on a fitness journey to lose weight or build more muscle, they often go too hard too quickly. They think that working out every single day will get them the results they want and fast. Sadly, this really does more harm than good. Our bodies desire movement, that’s true, but they also need rest to recover from that movement. When we lift weights or go for a run, the actual lifting weights and running isn’t what builds up our muscles…it’s the recovery afterwards that does that. When we workout, we create micro-tears in our muscle fascia. These micro-tears take time to heal, and as they heal they grow bigger. When I was in first grade and broke my wrist falling off of my bed. I remember seeing the x-ray in the doctor’s office and the doctor told me ‘you know, when this heals, it’ll be stronger than your other wrist’. I didn’t understand it at the time, but now, after studying some basic human anatomy, I know that our bodies heal stronger after experiencing tears or breaks. So when we workout and create those little tears in the muscles, the way to get them to grow bigger, is to let them rest! This means, if you do want to move and workout every day, focus on different muscle groups. Give your muscles at least 48 hours to rest and recover before working them again. Your body will thank you for it, you won’t get burnt out, and you’ll see better results than you would if you wore down your body the same way, every day.
4.) If I lift weights, I’ll get bulky and man-ish
Ok, so #2 we talked about to grow our muscles, but many women fear ‘bulking up’ if they lift weights. Firstly, if you want to get toned arms and legs, you need to lift weights in some capacity. Muscle tone only happens when we build up muscle groups and lose fat around them. The only way to build up muscle groups is to make them work against gravity with resistance…aka resistance training. ‘But I don’t want to look like Arnold’. Trust me, you won’t. Lifting weights is beneficial for many things including building lean muscle mass, increasing blood flow, increasing bone density, and just making you feel straight bad-A! However, bulking requires A LOT of HEAVY lifting. It also requires a enormous surplus in calories and protein in particular. Lifting weights will not make you bulky unless you are on a specific plan to get bulky. Lifting weights will grow your muscles a little bit, but they won’t get ‘bulky’ and Arnold-esque unless you’re lifting very heavy weights and eating A LOT.
5.) Crunches will give me the abs I want
This is one I’ve heard a lot and most people are starting to steer away from it which is good. However, I still hear people who think that doing 500 crunches a day will lead to a 6-pack. First of all, the level at which your ab muscles will start to appear is highly genetic. You could be pre-disposed to have ab definition at 20% body fat while someone else won’t see their abs until they are at 13% body fat. So keep that in mind when going for the 6-pack look. Secondly, in order to build up those muscles you do need to work them but crunches only work the upper part of your abdominal wall. You need many other exercises to work the transverse abdominus, obliques, and lower abs. So doing crunches alone won’t target the entire muscle group. Thirdly, and most importantly, you could be doing regular ab workouts to build up your muscles, but unless your diet is in check, you won’t see the definition many people want. Our stomachs are usually the last place our bodies want to drop fat because that fat protects us! It helps protect our organs and regulate our body temperature. So when you’re trying to lose the fat around your middle, know that your body doesn’t want to lose that fat. It wants to hold on to it for survival reasons! Think about why you really want a 6-pack and how your life will actually improve if you got it. Is it worth it? Many people have to maintain a very low body fat percentage to see abdominal muscles and that means sacrificing other things like eating out with friends and having food freedom and the occasional drink. So you have to ask yourself, is it worth it? You can still be 100% healthy and fit without a 6-pack.
6.) Cardio is best for losing weight
This one goes right along with another blog post I did about resistance training vs cardio. Many people (mainly women, but some men as well) think training for a marathon or running miles and miles every day is the best way to drop the fat and lose weight. More and more people are realizing the more cardio they do to lose weight, the more they have to do to maintain it. Our bodies adapt to whatever we put them through, so while starting running can drop fat quickly, maintaining that level of leanness requires more running. Excess cardio also burns muscle in addition to fat, which lowers our metabolism (less muscles = lower metabolism). Weight lifting, on the other hand, builds muscle. Muscle burns more energy and calories than fat so even while at rest, with more muscle, you will burn more calories than you would if you only did endless cardio to lose weight. Now I’m not saying running is bad. Heck, I love running! But if you want it to be your main source of exercise (which is totally ok if you love it!), I recommend incorporating at least 2 lifting sessions a week to help maintain lean muscle mass and not lose it.
I hope these myths help you realize that getting in shape and staying fit shouldn’t be complicated. We don’t need crazy diets or insane workout regimens to stay healthy physically and doing too much can actually cause our bodies harm. If you have any questions or are feeling confused about what diet or workout plan is right for you, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to talk through those things with you.
Have a great week!