Dispelling a Few Myths

7 06 2011

One of the most beneficial things for me when I started my weight loss journey was educating myself about fitness and good nutrition. In doing so, I learned that there is A LOT of misinformation out there! Some of the common myths related to weight loss might be holding you back from doing all you can to see results. Did you know the following?

Spot reduction is not possible. Most of us have a trouble area or two that we would like to work on – stomach, thighs, etc. However, did you know that it is impossible to target exercises to a specific area of the body in order to lose weight? If you want to get rid of that gut, the best exercise is going to be cardiovascular activities such as walking, swimming, running, etc. Cardio burns calories and fat, but where that fat comes off of the body is mostly genetically determined. Some of us will lose it from our stomach first, while others might see changes in their thighs and arms before the gut comes off! Exercises such as crunches and sit-ups will help to strengthen the abdominal muscles, but as long as the fat is still there, you won’t necessarily have a flat stomach. So to really work on blasting fat and taking off those inches: cardio, cardio, cardio!
That being said, it’s also sometimes common for people to do only cardio, believing that strength training will cause them to gain weight; this is another myth!
Strength training does not cause weight gain. Strength training is a vital component of any weight loss program. Do you know why? Because muscle burns more calories than fat does per pound! Therefore, the more muscle you carry on your frame (instead of fat), the more calories you will burn at rest. The more calories you burn through the day, the more likely you are to see weight come off! It is true that muscle is denser than fat, which is why many people believe it weighs more per pound; in reality though, a pound is a pound! Therefore, rather than focusing solely on the number on the scale, pay attention to your body composition – this is the percentage of lean muscle versus fat. If you are decreasing your body fat percentage and increasing lean muscle, then you are making great progress and are likely to notice differences in muscle tone and how your clothes fit!
Unfortunately, some people – particularly women – also believe that lifting weights will cause them to become too muscular, which leads us to our third fitness myth:

Weight lifting will not cause women to “bulk up.” Yes, strength training on a regular basis will hopefully lead everyone to gain some muscle mass. However, women are very different from men genetically and hormonally. We’re just not able to build the same level of muscle mass as men are! So if you fear you will look like a bodybuilder if you lift weights, fear not! Women can lift weights and increase their lean muscle mass without becoming overly muscular or losing any femininity. In fact, many women have a goal of “toning up,” but without strength training are not likely to see any type of firming or toning.
So, if you haven’t added strength training to your regular fitness routine already, hopefully dispelling a few myths and knowing some of the benefits will now push you to get lifting!

Jessica Peacock

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