Fitness Fads to Embrace (and Forget)
On the information superhighway, there are always a few speed bumps. When it comes to learning about health and fitness, those speed bumps usually include a lot of exclamation points and money-back guarantees. They’re myths, and they can be very confusing when we’re trying to go about the simple business of living healthfully.
I like you a lot, so I want to make sure you aren’t falling victim to these common myths about managing your health. Here are five myths and truths debunked for you.
Source: Ntensity Fitness Spa
Myth: You should have a “cheat day” to “reset your metabolism.”
Truth: A cheat day only cheats you.
Have you ever cheated on a test? Have you cheated on a relationship or been cheated on? How did that feel? Pretty miserable. When we feel like we need to cheat, it’s usually because we lack the confidence to pull off what we need to do on our own. Either we don’t have the answers, the environment is too extreme or demanding and we can’t keep up, or we are resentful and angry and feel as if we deserve a relaxation of the rules.
Cheating is one of those bottom-of-the-barrel situations that never feels like the right thing to do. So why do we anticipate having a day when we are going to cheat on ourselves? Sure, we all have indulgences now and then and times when we divert from our usual healthy path. That’s OK; that’s balanced. It’s not cheating to press pause and splurge on something now and then.
I challenge you to consider why you feel the need to cheat. Is your diet too restrictive to follow every day? Are you eliminating foods or nutrients that you are craving because they’re necessary for balanced health? Do you resent having to change your habits due to health concerns? Each of these circumstances can be addressed in a positive and compassionate way that doesn’t keep you in a cycle of cheating on yourself and losing every time! Your health is not a test. You don’t need to cheat.
Myth: You should have a little of everything in moderation.
Truth: To thine own self be true.
I recently addressed the myth that everything is OK in moderation, and how it is OK if there are some things you are better off without. Moderation works well for some of us and not as well for others. Don’t feel pressured to incorporate elements into your life that are triggers for unproductive habits or just more hassle than they are worth just to achieve the holy grail of “everything in moderation.”
Ideally, it would be wonderful if we could all have a little of everything in our life and function in balance and tranquility. For some of us, that is just not the hand of cards we have been dealt. That’s okay. To thine own self be true. Moderate what works and don’t listen to those who pressure you to have something that you know does not.
Myth: This cleanse/diet plan/workout/supplement will unlock my fat-burning power once and for all.
Truth: Fat loss is a result of consistent habits that result in a calorie deficit over time.
Do an Internet search of fitness fads through the last century and you’ll see astounding claims of health miracles occurring thanks to special soaps, tonics, fat-flushers, vibrating rubber bands, specially-timed meals, and weird tricks. We’ve all tried them, and they didn’t work. That’s because there is really only one thing that results in weight loss: the combination of nutrition and exercise that creates a reasonable calorie deficit over time. Period. Sure, research may show that some supplements provide a slight advantage, but it is not enough to replace good old-fashioned healthy living. Save your money and spend it on vegetables and walking shoes.
Myth: You should always/never eat before a workout to burn more fat.
Truth: It depends.
This is a tricky one, because research can be found to back up both the practice of having a small snack before a workout as well as doing cardio on an empty stomach. But unless you are an elite athlete or undergoing an extreme workout, whether or not you eat beforehand is a matter of personal preference. My professional opinion as a Certified Personal Trainer is that having a small snack, such as a banana or peanut butter sandwich, before a workout is a good idea. Eating before exercise provides more energy for your workout and can help you avoid low blood sugar, which makes your workout a lot more enjoyable. Exercise should be fun. Do what makes it fun for you (as long as what makes it fun is not skipping it.)
Myth: Only “SMART” goals get accomplished.
Truth: Being awesome doesn’t have an end date.
If you’ve ever gone to a strategic planning retreat, you may be familiar with the concept of SMART goals: those that are specific, measurable, action-based, realistic, and time-bound. I used to agree with this concept and encouraged my clients to set SMART goals for their health. Over time, however, I’ve changed that perspective. While it can be motivating to have a date by which a benchmark has been achieved, there are some goals that never expire. Eating a balanced diet, getting daily exercise, and smiling at your fellow man are healthy habits that are okay being SMART. You know this stuff. You know what to do. Put down the mouse, pick up your water bottle, and believe the truth that you know in your heart.
– HEATHER FUSELIER, CTTS, CPT, CHC