On my journey to living well and being in the best shape I can be, I’ve learned a LOT. I used to have some really strange perceptions about both fitness and food and I’ve since learned that a lot of my past beliefs were false so I thought it’d be great to share some myths that I’ve dispelled for myself over the years that a lot of people still believe, but are not true at all.
10 Fitness Myths You Need to Stop Buying Into
- You can get flat abs through exercise. This is the most ridiculous myth, but I literally read an article yesterday that promised flat abs to those who would follow their ab routine. I know this might hurt to hear, but you can’t get abs through workout alone. It is true that building your core strength (which can be done by running, doing squats, deadlifts, or you know, just standing upright) will help to build abdominal muscles, but they will never show if you don’t eat right. That phrase “abs are made in the gym, but shown in the kitchen” is absolutely true because if you have a layer of fat sitting over your perfect abs, they will never be seen and you can never out-calorie burn a bad diet.
- Doing cardio alone will make you lose weight. Cardio may make you lose weight for awhile, but the biggest factor in weight loss is your diet. That’s not to say you have to be ON a diet, but that you should eat right. Get your greens, get your protein, drink water, etc. Aside from that, if you want to build muscle, it’s beneficial because it will make your body look thinner by lowering your body fat percentage and raising your muscle percentage. This won’t necessarily reflect on the scale, but you will see it in progress photos and what your body looks like and you will literally be healthier because of the muscle gains. Also, it will be a lot harder to gain weight back once you’ve lost it whereas it’s much easier to gain weight back that was lost from cardio.
- Weight loss equals fat loss. You can’t spot treat. You can’t determine where you lose fat from. When you lose weight, it can be water weight (bloat), fat, and a number of other things. While it’s true that if your weight is lower, you’re more likely to have a lower body fat percentage, it doesn’t necessarily make you healthy or lean. The best way to gauge fat loss is by calculating it using this calculator, by using a set formula to manually calculate it yourself or by using a fat caliper which is essentially a body fat measuring tool.
- Doing an all Juice, smoothie or shake Cleanse or a Detox will expel toxins from your body. This is the worst one ever. People think, and the diet /fitness industry has helped to perpetuate this one, that if you drink all juice or only smoothies for 5 days that you can clean your body out, but it doesn’t work like that! In fact, your body is a brilliant, efficient machine with a built in cleaning detox mechanism – they’re called your kidneys and your liver. Both help to filter out the nasties from your body. That being said, eating better will help your insides feel better and certain foods actually help to clean the body out, like cilantro which can incredibly pull mercury and other harmful elements out of your body by attaching itself to them in the body and dragging them out for you via bowel movements (yay!), but juicing all day ‘err day won’t necessarily detox you because your body is already doing that for you.
- You can “detox” your body by eating less or drinking only juice.This is basically the previous myth stated in a different way, but I thought it needed 2 slots just because it’s seriously false, yet so many people still believe in it! Also, I want to mention that doing a cleanse and drinking only juice or smoothies has the potential to harm your body and mess up your metabolism. Because you’d be eating such little calories, you run the risk of putting your body into starvation mode which can slow your metabolism down, make your body freak out and hold onto every bit of food you put in it, and essentially make it harder to lose weight and easier to gain it. What you can do is eat a light, clean diet of fruits and veggies, fish and chicken, and water for a few weeks and also add in juices and smoothies and THAT will improve your bodily health and it’s ability to run effectively which will essentially “detox” you more efficiently.
- The raw food diet is healthier than eating cooked food. This is a myth I seriously used to believe, but did you know that in order for us to fully absorb certain nutrients in some vegetables, they NEED to be cooked? Take carrots – in order for us to actually absorb the beneficial vitamins like beta-carotene, they need to be heated because the heating is what releases those nutrients so they’re available for us to absorb. While eating some raw vegetables can be beneficial to our bodies and it’s true the nutrient content is not broken down, not all of them should be eaten in this way. For optimal nutrition, I think a mix of raw and cooked vegetables is your best bet. Learn more about raw v. cooked veggies – Here.
- Being skinny automatically makes you healthy just as being overweight means you have an illness. This is just blatant discrimination, if you ask me, but to be clear, an overweight person nor a skinny person are neither healthy or ill based on appearance or weight alone. Obviously heath is skin deep, but being skinny won’t necessarily make you healthy and fit just like being overweight won’t necessarily give you an illness. Being at an optimal fitness level and eating right, no matter your size, will help you to live up to your healthiest, leanest potential, but it’s not the end all be all when it comes to how healthy you are.
- Lifting heavy weights will make you look bulky. This is another myth I used to believe myself, but once you learn about the way our bodies are built, you will discover that there are certain limitations to them. For instance, women can NOT EVER look all ripped and muscular without the use of steroids. We just aren’t built that way. The only literal way to look as muscular as a man is by using steroids and other protein, muscle building supplements. Without steroids, lifting heavy weights will only make you look slim, lean and fit and it will definitely make you stronger. Men can achieve a certain level of muscular appearance without steroids, but nothing to the level that is achieved with steroids and supplements and that level is determined by your genes and your hard work in the gym.
- BMI is a great scale for your health. I implore you to look up the history and “invention” of BMI so you can see exactly how useless a tool it is for scaling your overall health. What BMI is, in a nut shell, is a ratio of your height to weight. So, if you’re more curvy, if you’re more muscular, your BMI will be higher, but that won’t mean you’re unhealthy or overweight, despite what some people might say about it. Learn more about BMI – here.
- Eating grains is bad for your health. It’s better to eat like our meat-loving caveman ancestors. Eating grains has never been bad for us; in fact, there are many beneficial enzymes and minerals in grains that our bodies can use and benefit from. The problem with grains is that the food industry has refined them to the point of being unrecognizable to what they were originally and the quality has degraded significantly. When flour is refined, they strip many (if not all) of the valuable nutrients from the grain and then add in some unnecessary sh*t like more sugar to make it taste better to us so we’ll buy more of it. I don’t really recommend that people go gluten free unless they have checked with their doctor and confirmed they’re allergic, but I will say that gluten free grain alternatives tend to be higher quality grains than the mainstream wheat-based ones. That being said, cutting grains out entirely is not really advisable. Also, eating like our “caveman ancestors” really has no base in fact as there is no way for us to know the exact diet of our ancestors in that time. Some studies can hypothesize that meat played a big part in our diets during the ice ages, but there’s no real way to know what their full diet looked like. We’re humans though and, at our core, we’re scavengers and eat everything.