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Working in the health and fitness industries as long as I have (about 30 years) has given me some perspective when it comes to getting healthy and fit. What I find interesting is when I ask a new member of a gym what their plan to get is to get fit and/or lose weight. Their response is usually; they either don’t know or they repeat a statement that sounds a lot like a fitness fantasy.
Over the years since I started teaching and training people about fitness. I compiled a few statements that people have made to me regarding weight loss or fitness in general that sound like a good idea but in reality represent a belief, either from a long time ago when the theory hadn’t been scientifically proven, a fitness model’s program OR is what worked for their friend, co-worker or family member.
Here are some of the more common fitness fantasies:
1- Fantasy: “All I have to do is diet and exercise to lose weight and get in shape”
Fitness Reality: That would be a true statement IF you have no hormonal, chemical or intestinal imbalances. Changing your diet and exercising regularly works for most people with no pre-existing conditions or homeostatic imbalances. However, if you find that changing your diet and exercising regularly provides zero change in your weight you may want to consider further blood panel testing to verify proper levels of all physiological elements.
2- Fantasy “I have to lose weight before I join a gym or get a personal trainer, I want to make sure I’m ready.”
Fitness Reality: I and many fitness professionals cringe at statements like these. My first concern is, if the statement was made by someone who is seriously deconditioned they may be at risk for injury or may have other imbalances that present a risk.
When working with a fitness professional they will have the information they need to structure a program that suits your needs and accomodates your current health status. Usually that information is crucial when it comes to starting a fitness program. It tells us where your weaknesses are, where your strengths are and how to best protect you from injury while keeping you motivated for the long term.
3- Fantasy: “If I lift free weights I will look like a man”
Fitness Reality: Trying to lift weights like your brother, husband or guy friend will probably not produce the sleek, defined body you are looking to create. A typical body-building program for a man increases weight over three sets while decreasing repetitions. This produces a thick musculature or “size” for a man’s build. When women use free weights they should be mindful to lift only what they can initially for only about 12 reps. I actually decrease weight through two more sets while increasing repetitions. Here is an example of a tricep free weight workout:
Tricep: Extensions 12lb weights/ 10 reps
10lb weights/ 15 reps
8lb weights/ 20 reps
The lighter the weight the more reps I do, this is where real definition begins to show and it is the preferred method of free weight lifting for women.
4- Fantasy “I take 5 spin classes a week to lose weight”
Fitness Reality: Taking spin class will definitely improve cardiovascular fitness. However, most spin classes encourage you to work your hardest meaning working your heart at an excessively high rate. This has been scientifically proven to work in the exact reverse of your hoped for outcome. If you work at too high a heart rate you will cease to burn fat and you will continue to burn glucose which is a very high intensity form of energy that can only be sustained for a short period of time. Good for cardiovascular exercise, not good for weight loss goals.
5- Fantasy “ Weight __________ and other weight loss companies will teach me how to lose weight”
Fitness Reality: Health and weight loss is a $20 billion dollar industry according to ABC news. Weight loss companies, books and products are designed to keep you coming back for more. Instead of empowering you to reclaim your own diet or create new healthier habits and lifestyle, the weight loss programs create a new addiction. It may be the habit or addiction to their foods, their support network or creative apps. Either way if you are remotely successful with their program you will want to repeat that behavior to produce the same effects. However, the body learns quickly how to retain fat. Repeating the same program will not produce the same effects you had the first time and may make matters worse as you seek the same support and gratification but see no results.
Don’t fall into the fitness fantasy trap. Do a little research, get blood panels done if you need to, find a personal trainer and get the support you deserve. You will not only get better results but you will learn how to get fit on your own eventually which is far more empowering than following a fitness fantasy. As always follow the advice of your physician before starting any fitness or weight loss regime. Now ....go be great!!