They say that a half-truth is worse than an outright lie because the grain of truth adds a smattering of credibility to the half-truth and creates doubt in the mind, whereas the outright lie is more easily recognised. Now health and fitness issues are a popular theme in the media but I frequently hear or see statements that I know from my knowledge and experience are patently untrue – which makes me very angry.
Hence with the Guy Fawkes’ celebrations almost upon us, I feel that this week it’s appropriate to dispel and in fact to explode some of the more common fitness myths that are circulating and to put the record straight with some no-nonsense, practical and unambiguous information.
Right, let’s blow those myths away!
1. You can lose weight without exercising. True! Well that’s surprised you hasn’t it! Of course you can lose weight without exercising – taking an extreme example, if you stop eating, you’ll lose weight. (I’m not recommending this!). However, that initial weight loss will quickly stall as your body seeks to conserve calories for self-preservation, whereas if you add exercise into the mix, you rev your metabolic engine, burn extra calories and keep the weight loss train on track. Oh and I nearly forgot, you get a whole lot healthier too – something that you will never achieve just by jumping on a diet.
2. I’m too old to exercise. My response to that statement is unprintable! Our oldest Personal Training Client is 74 and he’s not the only septuagenarian on our books. His health and fitness improvements have been incredible, including regaining full strength and mobility following a replacement knee and a replacement shoulder, so no-one’s ever going to tell me that you’re too old!
3. I’m too unfit to exercise. See my first sentence in the paragraph above! Similarly, whilst someone may be unfit, overweight and have not exercised for years, with correct training and your training correctly structured for you, your goals and your current fitness levels; there are no limits to what you can achieve. My team and I work with many Clients who have previously perceived that they were beyond redemption but I’m extremely happy to report that we’ve changed their lives – for the better!
4. You can target fat loss in specific areas. Now if I could do that I think I’d be a very rich person! Unfortunately when you lose body-fat, it comes off from all around (and inside) your body and you can’t stipulate where those areas are. Where we do succeed is in toning up specific areas (popular ones are the thighs, buttocks, underside of the upper arms) as part of your all-over body programme, which in conjunction with your body-fat loss, creates the shape you desire.
5. 1,000 sit-ups will give you a slim waist. I’m sorry but if you’re trying this one in the gym, you’re wasting your time. Endless sit-ups may improve your abdominal strength (depending how you do them) but they’re won’t fast-track you to a super-slim waist. You see, you could have the strongest stomach muscles around and a six-pack that’s the envy of every bodybuilder in town but if those muscles are covered with a layer of body-fat, then no-one will know and your waistline will not be super-slim. The key to success here is combination training, supported by correct nutrition. By combination training I mean that you need to burn calories via cardiovascular exercise – to reduce body-fat, do abdominal and core exercises for your mid-section and eat clean to avoid an excessive calorie intake that resulted in the not-so-slim-waistline that we’re trying to target!
6. Stop exercising and all your muscle turns to fat! I think it was in the Middle Ages that alchemists spent countless hours trying to turn base metals into gold – without success and in exactly the same way, you cannot convert one type of body tissue (muscle) into fat. It’s impossible. What may happen is that if you reduce your exercise levels or stop altogether, you’ll experience muscle wastage and due to the combination of less activity to burn calories, a lower metabolic rate due to reduced muscle mass and no change in your calorie intake, you may then gain body-fat – giving the impression that one tissue has morphed into the other. Of course the solution is to keep on exercising, keep looking and feeling great and keep reaping all those fantastic health benefits!
7. Diet products work. Were we really meant to live our lives on ‘nutritious shakes’ and ‘filling snack bars’ as opposed to the amazing, fantastic and delightful smorgasbord of wonderful (and healthy) foods that are available in a supermarket near you? I don’t think so either. And after subjecting ourselves to this ridiculous regime of what I term ‘non-food’, we then have to carefully and gradually wean ourselves back onto real food because our bodies have now become conditioned to non-food. And no mention of health with these products. I know this is radical but I suggest a slightly different approach; focusing upon fantastic food and energy giving exercise, resulting in a win-win-win. Weight loss = a win. A healthy body = a win. A new, energised you = yet another win.
8. . . . and finally, So in keeping with my bonfire theme, I’ve exploded all those urban myths that get bandied about in lifestyle magazines and cogitated over during water cooler discussions, replacing them with common-sense and practical help. So next time you hear another fitness ‘half-truth’ give the person a rocket and the real facts and watch their argument go up in smoke! Enjoy bonfire night and your training from all the body4life health & fitness Team – that’s me, Jane, Duncan, Dave, Alison and Tony (The truth and nothing but the truth from us!).
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