Throughout history, mankind has believed many falsehoods. For a long time, we believed the world was flat. Our ancestors believed the sun revolved around us. People used to think you could shake the fat away! Don’t these women look happy?
The point is, history is full of myths that spread like wildfire. When it comes to health/weight-loss, these myths are as abundant as Starbucks (Seriously. There are 3 within a mile up my house. What’s up?). Today I’m going to help debunk 10 of these myths. I am not a scientist. I’m not a weight-loss professional. I’m just an average person who has worked her whole like to be healthy and fit. This list comes from my extensive experience.
- You can exercise your way thin – Sadly, this isn’t true. For me, exercise has always been the easy part of weight loss. I am almost obsessive/compulsive about getting my workout in every day and have been for over 15 years. Yet no amount of running, stepping or crunching alone helped me lose weight. Exercise and healthy eating are a team. You can run until you pass out, but if you eat Twinkies everyday for breakfast, you’re not going to get the results you want.
- There is a “one-size-fits-all” solution – One of the most important lessons I learned about health and weight-loss is that each person is different and we need to get to know our bodies. Try things and see how you feel. Yes, do the research to back up what you try, but if there is one thing the diet/exercise industry has taught us, it’s that for every study you find telling you what will work, you can find another study contradicting the first. That doesn’t necessarily mean one or both are wrong, but that you need to find what works for you. This was easiest for me to figure out with food journaling, regularly weighing myself and taking measurements of my thighs, hips and waist. Some things worked and others didn’t. No one is an expert on your body but you.
- Skinny means healthy – For too many years, I envied skinny people thinking they were healthier than I was. Yet I have skinny friends who smoke. I have skinny friends who get winded walking up the stairs. I have skinny friends who have hormonal imbalances because of the amounts of sugar they eat. The point is, don’t judge a book by its cover.
- Weight gain is always bad – As a woman this was a really hard thing for me to wrap my head around. In the last six months I’ve gained five pounds and dropped a pant size. The reason: muscle. Muscle weighs more than fat. This is why I rarely weigh myself anymore. I pay attention to mow my pants are fitting rather than the number on the scale. Weight lifting is extremely healthy. Don’t shy away from it because the number on the scale may go up.
- Cardio is the only way to lose weight – As I said above, weight lifting is extremely healthy and will help you lose fat. Every time I add weight lifting to my workout routine, I lose much more weight than when I rely on cardio alone. I’m a slow learner and now I’ve made weight lifting a permanent part of my personal exercise program.
- You can achieve permanent weight loss using packaged “diet” food – There are a lot of diet programs out there that make a fortune on selling bars, cookies, drinks and pre-packaged meals. If you do lose weight with these products it’s usual not maintainable and doesn’t make you healthy. I’m a very religious person and believe that God made our bodies and He also made what we need to take care of them. Whether you believe in God or not, it’s generally agreed upon that the same force that made us also made the earth. Stick with whole, healthy, real food. You’ll feel better, feel more satisfied, function more efficiently and lose more weight. God made apples, not Snackwells.
- Meat makes you fat – For years I thought eating a piece of bread would get me skinnier than eating chicken. WRONG! Meat is loaded with protein. Protein builds muscle which in turn helps you lose fat. This realization was the best day of our marriage for my husband. When I told him we’d be having less bread and pasta and eating more meat, I think he almost burst into tears of joy. Yet with that change alone, my husband has lost about 15 pounds.
- Diets work – When I say “diet,” I’m talking about a super restrictive meal plans that can’t possibly be maintained. Diets offer quick fixes without offering solutions for sustainability. I’ve tried so many strange diets, daydreaming about the cookies and candy I’d eat once my diet was “over.” Rather, find a healthy, maintainable eating plan you can stick with for life. Don’t diet, just eat healthy.
- Once you lose weight, everyone will like you and you’ll always be happy – I discovered that losing weight isn’t the key to happiness. Yes, I feel healthier and happier, but my life isn’t perfect. Confession! There are times I see an extremely overweight person eating a cupcake and get jealous. Sometimes I think I’d be happier if I didn’t have to focus on health. But then I look at all the benefits (I feel good physically and emotionally and have energy) and am glad I made the changes I did. But if you think losing weight will take away all your worries, it’s just not true. True friends love you no matter your size and you will still have to find strength to overcome problems.
- There are ways to lose weight without having to make sacrifices and experience physical discomfort – This is one of my biggest frustrations with the weight-loss industry. I literally yelled at the radio the other day when a weight-loss advertisement came on. The product advertised was a weight-loss treatment that didn’t require you to diet or exercise or change your lifestyle at all. A word to the wise: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You can’t lose weight a healthy way without making healthy changes. If you want to lose weight and get healthy, you’re going to be frustrated. You’re going to have to say no to some things. You’re going to have to sacrifice time to set up a workout program. You’re going to be in embarassing situations at restaurants when you’re the only one not ordering dessert. You’ll sweat. You’ll want to give up. It’s hard. It’s supposed to be. It’s a sacrifice, but I PROMISE you it is worth it. If you stick with it you’ll come out stronger not just physically but emotionally, mentally and spiritually.