Guys, the weight loss/fitness industry can get really yucky REAL fast in all the messages it sends to women. Many people in the industry are trying to improve, but overall the advertising and material is full of fitness myths and outright lies.
When you see that picture of the fit girl at the gym (yes, like the one I posted above), know that she probably followed a very strict eating plan in the days/weeks leading up to the photo shoot. Like, NO carbs whatsoever, no salt, specific portions and/or calories in. Lean protein and veggies and a small amount of fat and that’s about it.
It’s not real life, and I kinda hate it.
I hate seeing promotions for the newest workout program that promises to get you “toned abs and arms” or seeing pins on Pinterest titled “Fat-Blasting Belly Workout”.
It’s really important to me to send truthful messages about fitness to you, and there are a TON of myths and lies out there when it comes to women’s fitness.
So let’s BUST some of ’em 🙂
Lie # 1: If I lift heavy weights, I’ll get bulky and look like a man.
NOOOOOOOO you will not!
Women who lift weights get strong physically, and they also get (as a wonderful bonus) amazing-looking bodies. You don’t get those “sexy-toned arms”, “tight butt” or “sculpted shoulders” (I dislike all these descriptions, by the way) by just doing cardio.
I’m TELLING you though, your favorite thing about weight training will be how freaking unstoppable you’ll feel when you finish a lifting workout.
The other thing is: you must lift HEAVY things.
Of course, starting out, lift those 3 or 5 pound weights, but if it feels easy, it’s not doing much of anything. I lifted with 5 pound weights when I first started, and I did ALL my exercises with those weights. Now I lift anywhere from a 10 lb weights to 20 lb ones, depending on the exercise (and I’m still working on increasing my collection of weights). I don’t tell you that to brag, but just to illustrate that I have to up my weights as I go along in order to see results.
You are SO strong. Stronger than you think!
Lie # 2: The more I work out, the more I can eat.
This one is easily my LEAST favorite myth. I hear people say that they just ate some crappy food and so they need to go burn it off, or they like exercising because it means they can eat more.
This is a total myth, I’m sorry to say.
It takes an INCREDIBLE amount of physical effort to burn the exact amount of calories (or more) that you take in, and at any rate, calorie counting is for the birds!!
YES, you do burn calories in exercise, but the goal shouldn’t be to negate the junk food you just ate.
I always say, exercise for how good it makes you FEEL. Eat healthy food because of how amazing your body and brain will feel!
I eat SO much food every day. I just make sure that 95% of it is healthy, whole, real food. This brings me to the next myth that drives me crazy:
Lie # 3: Eating healthy means I have to drastically cut my calories, eat nasty food I don’t like, and deprive myself—in other words, healthy eating = misery.
This is the WORST. So many women go into their efforts to get healthy with this mindset, and it’s like poison.
I want to offer to you that healthy eating can be amazing, and there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach.
Let me put it a different way to reiterate: there is no diet on this earth that is going to work for every single person on the planet.
Each of us are unique individuals, with bodies that range in size, digestion issues, food intolerances, allergies, likes and dislikes.
YOU know your body best, and you have to trust in that: trust that you’ll know what your body needs and you can come up with a system of eating that works for YOU. Yes, consult a doctor and/or a nutritionist. Even your personal trainer (wink) will at least have some ideas.
But don’t restrict yourself to how you’ve always tried to do things in the past. It seems like it hasn’t really been working anyway, so why not try getting curious?
For long time, I thought healthy eating meant always eating salads and trying new recipes all the time to keep things interesting. I also thought I had to count calories.
Now, I have found that, for me, portion control is much easier, and I also try to keep my food simple. Like math.
I know what types of food I need to eat throughout the day and how much to eat of them, so I just plug in whatever I have on hand into my formula. (I still plan out dinners and shop for a variety of healthy foods). Example: I know that post-workout, I need to eat a meal that has one serving each of veggies, fruit, protein, carbs, and healthy fat. So I might look in my fridge and see that I have oranges, sautéed zucchini, rotisserie chicken, brown rice, and some nuts. Boom. Done.
My way of eating might not work at all for you, and you might not like the same foods that I like.
Try your best to eat intuitively. I’ve been learning more about this recently and it’s quickly becoming my new philosophy. Check out this book for more info (and you’ll also start to see more content on this blog about this verrry soon).
Experiment with food and eating and see what kinds of healthy foods you like. Eat a LOT of veggies and protein (depends on your current weight, but generally 4-5 servings of protein and 4-6 servings of veggies). I’d also pick foods from the food groups that you actually enjoy and LIKE. Don’t deprive yourself or tell yourself you can’t have certain foods. Above all, DO NOT starve yourself or drastically cut your calories.
There are SO many ways to eat healthy: make it your own. Trust your own body and your own inner voice.
Lie # 4: I have to go to the gym to lift weights/There’s only one way to weight train/I have to use weights in order to get the results I want.
I am probably one of the biggest fans of weight lifting out there. The truth is, though, there are other ways to work out that don’t involve weights or a gym membership.
You can buy hand weights and lift them at home.
You can do exercises at home that using your own body weight as resistance. Think yoga, push-ups, pull ups, handstands, etc.
You can use other tools like kettlebells, resistance bands or loops, or medicine balls.
You can join a gym and use their weights and machines.
This one is similar to the last myth about eating: don’t fall into the trap of thinking there’s one way to workout or only one way to get weight training in.
I know plenty of people who just use their own body weight to get that resistance training.
Find what works for you.
Lie # 5: Working out is for younger women, especially weight training. I’m too old to lift weights.
I think many middle age or older women have this thought, but it’s a LIE!
There could never be a BETTER time to work out than as you age. It will help you keep your muscles and bones strong, prevent injuries, and most important, increase your health and independence in your later years.
Always consult a doctor before starting any exercise, and hire a good trainer who can help you with proper form, but after that, go for it! You’ll LOVE how good it makes you feel.
Lie # 6: Workouts can target specific areas of my body for weight loss. If I do a bunch of crunches, I’ll lose the weight I’ve been carrying around my stomach and get a six pack.
It drives me crazy to get on Pinterest and see these workouts that promise you’ll be able to “banish back fat” or “get rid of flabby arms”.
Sorry, ladies, but it just doesn’t work that way.
Yes, you can strengthen the muscles in a certain area of your body, but weight loss doesn’t come from exercise. It comes from what you’re eating. And even then, it happens gradually across your whole body: not from just one area.
If you stick with your healthy eating and exercise, you’ll see results, but 90% of any weight loss you’ll see will come from what you eat, and you may never be able to attain a six-pack due to genetics.
So, again, STAHP exercising to lose weight in a certain area while ignoring your nutrition. It won’t work and you’ll just end up frustrated.
Lie # 7: I’m too scared to lift weights, I feel like I’m going to hurt myself. Isn’t weight lifting dangerous?
Welllll, yes and no.
Yes, you CAN seriously injure yourself if you lift weights without proper form.
But as long as you educate yourself about the correct ways to execute an exercise, you don’t have to let the fear of an injury stop you. When done properly, lifting weights can actually decrease your chances of injury in your every day life. Functional fitness, baby!
Talk to your friendly neighborhood personal trainer (hint hint: me) and have them walk you through the basics.
For instance, there are some principles of form that are standard with the vast majority of exercises. You always want to keep your head in line with your spine and keep your abs engaged to protect your back. When exercising, find the right balance between an amount of reps that challenge you, but that you can also perform safely as you get tired.
Those are just a few examples that work across most exercises, and honestly, most form is pretty common sense stuff. Again, talk to a personal trainer to make sure you’re using correct form, and then go forth and get stronger!
Lie # 8: I can look like a fitness model if I just follow this workout I found on Pinterest.
This is something I really want to educate people on so that they understand; it takes a LOT of work and sacrifice and time to get a body like a fitness’s model’s.
Firstly, you have to be SUPER meticulous about your food. If you want to look “cut”, you can pretty much count on NEVER straying from your stringent food protocol. As I mentioned in the intro to this post, fitness models will eat only protein, veggies, and very specific fats leading up to a photo shoot. No carbs of any kind (this could include beans, sweet potatoes, or brown rice even).
You can never miss a workout/training session, and you have to train HARD. We’re not talking 30 minute Pinterest workouts here. HOUR long (or more), heavy lifting, multiple set workouts.
You have to make absolutely sure you get enough sleep at night so your body can recover properly and be ready for more training. This often means you have to say “no” to a lot of social engagements and get to bed each night by 8 or 9 pm.
In other words, it becomes your life.
So next time you see that picture of the girl with a flat stomach, six pack, sculpted shoulders, and cut legs, just remember what it takes to get there. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with it. Just know that if you want to look like that, you’re going to be dedicating a lot to it and sacrificing a lot for it.
Don’t forget that you are MUCH more than a body to be admired.
You can be at a perfectly healthy weight, feel comfortable in your own skin, and still have treats.
The biggest thing I hope you’ll take away from this post is that we tend to get caught up in myths and fitness industry lies most often when we start obsessing about our outward appearance too much.
You are more than just a body.
Your life is measured by more than just the number on the scale.
It’s awesome to have goals (in fact, I encourage them), but be happy and grateful for where you’re at NOW.
And let go of these lies! They won’t help you on your journey.
Be you, listen to your body, and find what works for YOU.