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BUSTED: Uncovering 3 Common Workout and Fitness Myths

By Alexis Leis

Fitness and the internet can be a dangerous place to be, especially when we are trying to figure out where to start. We are all guilty of seeing someone online and thinking to ourselves, “man, I’d love to look like they do,” and thinking if we just do the exact same thing, we’ll achieve the same results. Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it doesn’t quite work like that. As a Certified Personal Trainer, I’m here to point you in the right direction and bust some of the most common fitness myths.

MYTH 1: Following a 1,200 calorie/day diet

“Buy my meal plan and lose 20lbs in 6 weeks!” How many times have you (or know someone) followed one and ended up right back where you started months later? The conversation around nutrition and individual health is flooded with misconceptions, but that’s a bigger conversation for another day. 

Back in the day women were blasted with following a 1,200 calorie/day diet to lose weight. You know who a 1,200 calorie/day diet is actually recommended for? Children below the age of 8 years old. Adults over the age of 18 years old should generally be getting anywhere between 1,800-2,200 calories/day depending on daily activity level, exercise frequency, health concerns, and goals. 

It’s easy to hit a calorie number, for example, I could order a half dozen glazed donuts from Krispy Kreme and hit 1,200 calories. Will you feel better for it? No. Will you look better for it? Most likely not. If we change our strategy from just total number of calories to nutrient-dense focused you’ll have a higher chance of making it to your goals and staying there. Why? You’re creating a lifestyle change instead of a quick-fix. Think of how you can maximize your meals to feel your best and give your body the tools it needs to work in your favor. 

My biggest tip for you if you’re struggling is to focus on your protein intake. The majority of us aren’t consuming enough protein on a daily basis. Protein will help satiate you, give your body the nutrients it needs to recover and stay strong, and keep you fuller for longer. Take your bodyweight in pounds and multiply it by 1 to see how many grams you should generally aim to hit daily. If you aren’t anywhere close to that number, make that your first goal and master it before adding another goal. 

*I am not a licensed Nutritionist or Dietician. Please consult with your doctor before making any drastic changes to your diet. If you need more specialized help, ask your Physician for a referral.

MYTH 2: “Carbs are bad for you.”

Carbohydrates are a macronutrient that every single human body needs to operate efficiently and is imperative to everyday health. Carbs are your body’s energy source fueling your physical body, brain function, nervous system, and much more. So to answer the question, no carbs are not bad for you, but it’s a bit more complex than that.  

There are various types of carbohydrates, some that will bring your body a higher quality of nutrients than others. Simple carbohydrates are what you want to avoid or limit as much as possible. Examples of simple carbs are cookies, processed breads, sugary cereals, etc. Instead, you’ll want to prioritize complex carbs which contain higher quality nutrients to fuel your body. Some examples of complex carbs are whole grains, vegetables, and beans.

When planning or choosing your meals throughout the day, think how you can best support your body for what the day calls for. Are you planning to work on the yard in the hot sun? Fuel up with overnight steel cut oats topped with your favorite fruit and don’t forget to get ahead with your water intake. Typically have an afternoon crash around lunch time? Maximize your lunch salad by topping your greens with cooked quinoa, beans, corn, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and your favorite vinaigrette dressing. Maybe even pair it with a fresh pressed juice. Say goodbye to that 3 o’clock slump.

MYTH 3: “Lifting heavy weights will make you bulky.”

My favorite fitness myth to debunk. Let me just shout this one from the rooftops… FALSE! FALSE! FALSE!

As we age (women especially), we are prone to muscle loss which can make everyday activities more challenging, can lead to higher risk of injury, broken bones, and a prolonged recovery time from injury or illness. This is also referred to as sarcopenia. Physically inactive people can lose as high as 5% of their muscle mass each decade after the age of 30! Now, no need to startle, this doesn’t mean all hope has been lost. 

So unfortunately, as fun as those HIIT classes are, they won’t protect you against the inevitable. I’m not recommending completely giving it up, but I am highly encouraging you to begin weight or resistance training at least 2x a week. You don’t need to lift extreme amounts or every day for your body to reap the rewards.

As you progress in your resistance training, your muscles will get stronger and more dense. As your muscles get more dense, they become more compact leading to the “toned” or “lean” look. The biggest contributing factor to a “bulky” look is your nutrition, which has nothing to do with lifting weights. We’ve all heard the saying, ” abs are made in the kitchen, not the gym,” and there is truth to that. This principle is also referred back at myth #1.  

The gym can be a daunting place when you don’t know what to do or where to start, and that’s okay! If you need guidance on how to begin safely, find a personal trainer in your area that keeps your goals and health as their top priority (like me). 

As the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and the second best time is today. Same goes for your training. It’s never too late to start, but you can’t outrun the inevitable! Get ahead of it, honor your body, and add some life to those years.

So much has changed in the fitness/wellness space in the last 10 years and these 3 myths are only a fraction of information we can toss by the wayside. Women should be in the gym. Being strong isn’t only for men. Everyone should be eating to fuel their body, not depriving it. Your health is your responsibility, so make it a top priority. It’s okay to not know where to start, none of us are masters at anything the first time, but don’t wait to start. Find people you trust you can look to and a community that can keep you accountable. Let’s get strong together and add life to those years – You got this!

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About the Author

Hi, my name is Alexis Leis! I am born and raised in Jacksonville, FL – go Jags! I’m a Certified Personal Trainer specializing in women’s strength of all fitness and experience levels. My training philosophy focuses on overall wellness to help you feel strong and confident inside the gym and out. You’ll most likely find me at the gym (surprise), at the farmers market, recording a podcast, or hosting trivia around town. Don’t be a stranger and come say hi! Hope you have the best day ever!

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