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6 Common Diet and Exercise Myths

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Do you have big plans for changing your diet and exercise this year? Looking for a quick fix with long-term results? Don't let your goals get polluted with these common diet and exercise misconceptions.

Diets are hard: Myth

Do you look at dieting as a short-term suffer-fest? Do you think if you punish yourself with deprivation you’ll magically weigh less? Your diet, or what you eat, is not temporary. It’s what you choose to put into your body every day for the rest of your life.

Be more thoughtful about your food. Eat a few less calories, replace an unhealthy snack with a healthy one. These are easy ways to kick your eating habits back in to shape and get results.

Exercise is more important than food to lose weight: Myth

No amount of exercise can make up for a bad diet. Exercise doesn’t earn you a brownie. While exercise is the most important habit to improve overall health, it’s only responsible for 20 to 30 percent of a person's weight. Look at it this way: You will lose 70 to 80 percent of your weight in the kitchen, and 20 to 30 percent in the gym.

Some foods are forbidden: Myth

If you want a donut for breakfast, eat a donut for breakfast—but you better be eating lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains the rest of the day! And don’t eat a donut for breakfast every day. We all like to indulge in our favorite treats, and creating a list of forbidden foods just sets you up for failure when you give in to the craving. Ask yourself, “Is this worth the calories? How much sugar shame can I withstand? What’s the smallest amount I can eat to satisfy the craving?”

Weight loss comes in a bottle: Myth

There are a plethora of products out there claiming that they’re the next big weight-loss discovery. Two professors of complementary medicine, Max Pittler and Edzard Erst, (2004) published a systematic review of the most commonly touted natural weight-loss aids and products. They looked at chitosan, chromium picolinate, Ephedra sinica, Garcinia cambogia, glucomannan, guar gum, hydroxymethylbutyrate, plantago psyllium, pyruvate, yerba maté, and yohimbe. Their conclusion was straightforward:

"The evidence for most dietary supplements as aids in reducing body weight is not convincing. None of the viewed dietary supplements can be recommended for over-the-counter use". Don't count on the next miracle drug to solve your poor diet and lack of exercise.

I need to be my “ideal” weight: Myth

We’re human beings who don’t fit into the same mold. Good health can’t be generalized into body fat percentage, waist circumference, body mass index, and weight. Yes they are good guidelines, but numbers don’t reflect reality. Our weight is affected by everything from Grandpa Paul’s high cholesterol to the five-year-old being up all night with the flu. There are so many variables. We can sabotage ourselves by not exercising, eating poorly, and losing sleep, but there are many things out of our control. Your ideal weight shouldn’t be a number—it should be whatever weight helps you live the healthiest life possible.

Lots of cardio for weight loss: Myth

Yes, cardio or aerobic exercise do burn a lot of calories while you’re exercising. But what about when you’re not exercising? If you increase your muscle mass your overall metabolism increases and you’ll burn more calories throughout the day during your normal daily activities. All those muscle fibers need calories to keep them alive! And no, if you’re a woman you won’t bulk up; strength training is the best way to change your body shape. Muscle loss starts to happen in your 30’s; 3-5% per decade! And after age 50 it can be upwards of 1-2% per year! And as you lose muscle your metabolism tanks; so even if you eat the same you’ll still gain weight.

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Post Author

Cami Flygare

Cami Flygare is a personal trainer and fitness instructor at SelectHealth. She teaches spinning, strength training, yoga, and TRX classes (to name a few). She enjoys cycling, mountain biking, rock climbing, and skiing with her family.