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HEALTHY LIVING: Fitness: Facts dispel the myths

I get asked a lot of questions, all valid, because someone’s sister-in-law’s cousin’s aunt knew someone “this” happened to.  There is a lot of misinformation that is spread around; there are a lot of truths that are embroidered upon to sell products or services in the health and fitness industry.  In today’s column, we are going to wade through and dispel some myths and give you some facts. 

1. I Exercise So I Can Eat Cookies and Chips – Myth.  You can’t out-exercise a bad diet. Your eating has to be in check. About 80% of what you look like is based on diet. It’s a calorie game, and people often overestimate the amount of food they burn in an hour-long session.  If you are still carrying that extra 10 pounds and are exercising 3-5 days a week, pay close attention to what you are putting in your mouth.

2. I Just Need To Tone Up – Myth.  You can only lose fat. Your muscles are already toned or you wouldn’t be able to move around. They’re just not visible because of the layer of fat covering them. First and foremost, fix your diet. Then target the trouble areas, and lift weights at intense, about 85%, muscle capacity.

3. Women Need Different Exercises Than Men – Myth.  Both sexes have the same body structure but different hormonal make-ups, which may mean a difference in muscle strength but does not mean they should work out any differently. Men tend to focus on abs, chest and arms, and women tend to focus on gluts and legs. They’re each forgetting one half of their bodies.

4. Women Can’t Lift Weights Like Men, They Will Bulk Up – BIG Myth.  I hear this one more than any of them. Without chemical assistance, women cannot achieve extraordinary muscle growth.  Because women’s testosterone is lower, they likely won’t be able to lift as much weight as men, but the typical three-pound lady dumbbells won’t work because the resistance is too low to create change in the muscle. Trainers recommend everyone doing six to eight repetitions with a

5. Always Stretch Before Exercising – Potentially dangerous Myth.  The conventional wisdom is that stretching elongates the muscle and helps prevent injury. Actually, stretching before a workout will weaken the muscle by 30%, and the reduced tension may increase the risk of injury. Sound advice: Do warm up by walking before cardio or doing light weights before intense training, and do stretch after a workout.

6. I Will Burn More Fat on an Empty Stomach – Myth. While this statement might technically be true—in the morning the body is deprived of nutrients so will tap fat stores–but it is the wrong approach. Working out on an empty stomach burns more muscle, which defeats the purpose of any fat-loss diet.  Also, working out in a fasting state is sub-optimal, since the lack of nutrients will not allow for peak performance.  If you are diabetic, do eat and do check your blood sugar before and after exercising.

7. Shakes Are Great For Losing Weight – Myth. Nope, this won’t work. Most are a mix of cheap protein, vitamins, sugar and coloring agents. It’s not that they’re inherently bad for you, but that they won’t keep you full. Whole foods have more fiber and take up more stomach volume, which keeps you feeling satisfied. They also require more digestive work, so use more energy and keep the metabolism up. But if you just have to drink them, look for high-end whey protein and adding some fats like nuts or oil to increase satiety.  Shakes should contain more protein and vegetables, rather than high sugar fruits.  There is no magic concoction/pill/smoothie/shake that will take off unwanted pounds and make you fit as a fiddle. Only hard work and determination will do that.

Consult with you doctor for sound medical advice and a certified trainer for fitness advice.  Stay healthy my friends!

Contact Jody Holton with your questions, comments, or suggestions for future columns at jholton3@gt.rr.com