Exercise and Nutrition Myths
Exercise, health, nutrition – huge buzzwords tossed around on the news constantly. My issue before I got aboard the health bandwagon was that you hear a lot of contradictory information. It’s these weird gaps in knowledge about nutrition that make it difficult to sift through. I’m not a trained nutritionist – any observations I make come from personal use and self-experimentation, as well as the words and advice of people that have more knowledge and authority than I. Here are just a few misconceptions about exercise and nutrition that I’ve caught wind of:
Exercise Myth: You Can “Spot-Burn” Certain Areas of Fat on Your Body
As a bigger guy, all I really cared about was my giant belly and the fat on my chest (the very emasculating “man-boobs”). “If I could tone those to look shapely, I wouldn’t care about my weight beyond that” is what I told myself. Thus began a conquest of crunches and pushups that I quickly burned out of when I realized that while I was losing weight, I wasn’t losing the weight where I wanted to. Exercise will reduce body fat by percentage, but it’s better to focus on a variety of exercises to lose overall weight and promote muscle growth throughout your body. While muscle is a different beast altogether, you need to get that fat off of you you’re going to have to lose weight the old-fashioned way first. You want to get rid of that belly? Get ready to start doing some old-fashioned cardio.
Exercise Myth: Pain Equals Gain
I’m a lazy, lazy person. I wanted to lose the most weight I could in the shortest period of time. When I first began my long journey of weight loss, I thought that if I went all out until my body couldn’t take it anymore, I would see the fastest results. I convinced myself that I had to run myself around my block enough times that I was sick, near-vomiting, drenched in sweat, and ready to pass out in exhaustion. I did that for about a month until I finally cooled down my routine. While I did see decent results, I was surprised when I found an interval pattern of walking – jogging – running – jogging – walking that I was losing more weight and able to go out longer and feel overall better when I got back. Sweat exists to cool your body – contrary to the way many might think, it is not a measurement of the calories you burn. Instead, focus on exercises that you can spend more time doing before burning out. You’ll have a much better time of increasing both the quality and quantity of your work this way.
As for the phrase itself, I do agree with it insofar that you do need to put out the effort and energy to start getting in shape. However, you don’t have to kill yourself out there. Exercise smart and safely.
Nutrition Myth: There Are Diets That Work For Everyone Across the Board
I read a lot of health and nutrition books and have known people on Atkin’s, low-fat diets, and keto and people up and down will tell you one diet is the best diet. I never got that – I’ve seen many dieters each on wildly different diets have a ludicrous amount of success individually. I dieted while I was losing weight and my diet eventually evolved into a life-style in it of itself. I decided to follow a ketogenic diet bandwagon – very little carbs, high fat, high protein. Over a year and 110 pounds later, I can safely say that it played a large part in my success.
While it was a difficult process going in, I’ve felt overall more energy, my blood sugar is better, and my doctor a few weeks back said I’m the healthiest he’s seen me in five years. I have no intention of stopping at any point in the future. Here’s where people mess up, though: if I stopped exercising or the diet, I would probably put some weight back on. Diets are not these temporary changes in what we do to get the weight off – they are lifestyle changes that should probably be continued indefinitely. People who lose weight from dieting often put it back on because they revert back to their old lifestyle. In order to keep your losses, you need to realize that if it works, it needs to continue.
While I could sing praises about keto and how effective it is, I have friends that have had amazing success with low-fat diets. I just personally chose keto because of it’s affordability and the results I almost immediately saw. My thought (and this is purely hypothesis) is that what diet works best depends on your genetic background. Some people can metabolize carbohydrates quickly and efficiently while other people can process fat. Others can do both. Someone else may try keto and put weight on for all I know. If you’re searching for a diet that works, find one that your doctor approves, gives results, and one that you can maintain indefinitely. Be willing to experiment (I definitely did) – if you feel that your diet isn’t working, be willing to change it. That exercise regimen you’ve been doing successfully? Keep doing it indefinitely. Your overall longevity and lifespan will thank me years (hopefully many) from now.
It may be difficult to get started with all the seemingly contradictory information – there are plenty of other myths and incorrect beliefs floating around the internet being marketed as the best solution to getting in shape. What I believe we will see a trend towards one day, as our understanding of how genetics play a factor in weight loss increases, will be individualized health and diet plans tailor-made for us. What is agreed on by nutritionists now is that reducing your calories and exercising will help you knock fat off of your body. In the meantime, while you have the starting point, it’s up to you to figure out the best road to take. Sometimes that means not listening to whatever “fad diet” on the news or some crazy exercise system infomercial you saw at three in the morning – instead, you need to experiment and figure it out for yourself.