There are a lot of things in the health and fitness industry that make my eyes roll back into my head.
As a kid, my mom always told me that if I rolled my eyes, they'd get stuck there. GOOD THING THAT AIN'T THE CASE because I've probably rolled my eyes about 59,239,321 times since becoming a fitness professional.
From the myth that women shouldn't lift weights because it makes them 'bulky,' to the concept of eating less and moving more = results.... laaaaawd. If I had a dollar for every B.S. claim I heard, I'd be lying on beach on my private island in Bimini right now with a butler handing me kombucha on tap.
Realistically though, as an average Jane, it's hard to decipher what's actually true and what's lie.
I've mentioned this a bunch before, but the fitness industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that is built off of marketing. That means that industry professionals will dig deep to find out what you're insecure about, use that against you by making you think you're not good enough, and try to sell you their products.
Just to shed light on an example: If you've ever been told, "BUY THIS CELLULITE CREAM AND GET RID OF IT IN 5 DAYS!!!" This literally translates to: you have cellulite. therefore, there is something wrong with you. therefore, you are unworthy or unlovable. therefore, buy my cellulite cream so that you can get rid of that 'problem' and become 'hotter' because hot=worth, cellulite=not hot=not worthy. Obviously it sounds ridiculous when you spell it out like that, but this is essentially what they're getting at with their marketing. IT MAKES ME WANT TO PUKE.
And while I could rant and rave about the problems in the fitness and health industries, and the lies that we've ALL been sold on (that I fell victim to as well for YEARS before I knew better)... I'm not down to be part of the problem.
I'm here to be part of the solution, which is why I want to share these fitness and health myths with you today!
The 5 Biggest Myths About Health & Fitness You Should STOP Believing ASAP
1. Lifting weights will make you bulky.
Lawd Jesus someone get me a soapbox for this one.
For the first 3 years that I started working out, I would ONLY do cardio. This meant that for an hour every day, I'd spend my time be-boppin around on the elliptical.
At the time, my main goal was weight loss (I had just gained the freshman 15 - which I explain in my fitness journey podcast), so I figured more cardio = weigh less. And while yes, I did lose weight going on the elliptical, I pretty much looked the same. Just 10 pounds lighter.
And while that's all fine and dandy, I still didn't 'look' how I intended to look when I set out to reach my fitness goals: lean and toned. Because I was ONLY doing cardio, I had no muscle definition. And frankly, I got really bored, really fast (you can only spend so many hours on the same elliptical machine, am I right?)
So I knew I needed to do something different. Enter: strength training.
Not only did lifting weights give me that 'toned' and defined look I was looking for, I actually felt myself getting STRONGER. I talk in this video about how strength training saved my life, and gave me confidence in ways I didn't even know existed. It helped me heal from sexual abuse, my parent's divorce, and so much more — things I didn't even know I was holding resentment towards.
It gave me a tangible goal to work towards that wasn't related to my weight. I was super excited to go to the gym every day to try to improve upon what I did the day before. It gave me confidence in the way I looked. But most importantly: it allowed me to carry that confidence and strength I found by lifting weights into every area of my life — my relationships, my career, my self worth.
I felt confident standing up for myself and what I wanted. I no longer settled for 'average' when it came to dating guys. I asked for a raise at work because I finally understood my worth.
ALL of this because I started lifting weights. (and it also led me down this career path so #winwin)
So no, you will not get bulky if you lift weights. What you WILL gain is confidence, courage, strength and acceptance of your body for what it does for you rather than how it looks.
And, scientifically speaking, the more muscle mass you have on your body, the more calories you burn at rest. This means your metabolism speeds up when you have more muscle (more food, woo!) AND, if you do a high intensity weightlifting session like the ones laid out in my EMPOWER Challenge starting June 4, you'll keep burning calories for 24-48 hours, versus just doing cardio, where you STOP burning calories the minute you step off the treadmill or elliptical.
2. You can outwork a bad diet, as long as you train hard enough.
This one breaks my heart a little bit, but it's true: you can't outwork a bad diet.
And not even necessarily a 'bad' diet, but if you're consuming more calories than your body needs, you will gain weight — even if those calories are coming from avocados and oatmeal.
Now, this doesn't mean you need to be glued to your phone and tracking every morsel of food in order to reach your goals. In fact, I've done that before and my results were NO better than when I was intuitive eating with light structure (my #GPF formula).
Unless you're an olympic level athlete who trains for 8+ hours per day, you probably WILL need to be mindful of the types of food you eat and your portion sizes. Most of us sit at a desk for work all day, and don't need nearly as many calories as we think we do. We eat for ALL types of reasons other than hunger throughout the day: boredom, tiredness, anxiety, depression. And even if you're in the gym 1-2 hours per day, you won't be able to 'burn off' all the extra calories or poor food choices.
It's true that in order to get down to certain levels of leanness or if you're an athlete, you may need to start tracking your intake to get results (I talk about this in this blog post), but for the average person, you can focus on the following:
Most of your calories should come from whole food sources. When you do indulge, watch your portion sizes and be discerning about what you choose to indulge in (i.e. opting for Grandma's pie that you only eat once per year vs. mindlessly picking at stale chocolate chip cookies in the break room that show up every other day). Eat when you're genuinely hungry, stop when you're about 80% full. Drink a lot of water.
Most people tend to overcomplicate things when it comes to nutrition, but if you truly follow those principles, you could easily reach your goals with little to no stress or drama surrounding food.
3. You NEED supplements to get results.
As I mentioned in the intro, the fitness industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. A lot of that money comes from supplements — meaning companies will try to make you believe that you need their products in order to get results.
If you're eating as I explained in point #2, you will not need supplements to get results.
Supplements are just that — they SUPPLEMENT an already good diet and training routine.
If you're eating cheetos and french fries at every meal and expect to take a fat burner to lose weight... ain't happenin sista. For the record: I don't recommend fat burners in any situation, actually.
So, what WILL get you results if it's not supplements? Proper nutrition. Hard work in the gym. Plenty of sleep.
Now: I will say, there is nothing wrong with some supplements if you're truly deficient in something and it's recommended by a doctor. For example, I take a multi-vitamin in order to cover what my diet doesn't, I take probiotics for my gut health, and I take magnesium to aid in muscle repair and better sleep quality. I also use protein powder for my delish #GPF smoothie, but not because I NEED it, just because I like the way it tastes + it adds protein to my smoothies!
If you have any questions about specific supplements, feel free to ask me.
4. You HAVE to do a certain type of workout to get the best results.
The best type of workout is the one you're going to stick with: period. end of story.
Sure, there are more efficient ways to work out based on your desired result. For example, you won't look like a Crossfitter if all you do is run. And you won't necessarily get more flexible if all you're doing is weightlifting and avoiding any type of stretching/yoga.
Everyone has their opinion on what the 'best workout' is... but truly: it's the one you're going to stick with, day in and day out, over a long period of time.
That doesn't mean you won't ebb and flow into different styles of training during different seasons of your life. But overall, the more consistent you are with one style of training, the better your results will be.
In order to figure out what the best type of workout for you is, I encourage you to try new things! Some people love Crossfit, some love yoga, some love Orange Theory, some love weightlifting. I personally love a combo of lifting weights, mobility/stretching/yoga, and cardio (running, HIIT, etc.)
If you're interested in more of my fave workouts, check out our EMPOWER Challenge starting June 4!
5. Eat less, move more.
When I first started getting into fitness, I lived by the philosophy "eat less, move more."
I thought that the less I ate and the more I worked out, that would guarantee my results and I'd look fabulous.
But what REALLY ended up happening was I felt weak, I passed out at work once from low blood sugar, I lost my period for a year, and I was deficient in so many vitamins and nutrients that my hair started falling out. Fun, huh?
Now I live by the philosophy: LESS IS MORE. Less time in the gym, with higher quality work, is key to getting the results you want without burning yourself out.
THANK GOD, because this means you don't have to spend hours and hours in the gym to get results — you just have to use your time in the gym efficiently. (Read: How to Get a Better Workout in LESS Time at the Gym)
6. BONUS! You have to either be ON the wagon or off, there is no in between.
I know I said I was going to talk about the 5 biggest myths about health and fitness, but I JUST KEEP THINKING OF MORE BECAUSE THERE ARE SO MANY! But really, this is the last one and it's super important.
I learned long ago that the all-or-nothing approach to fitness and nutrition doesn't work.
When I was first starting out, I was either eating chicken and broccoli all day, or eating pizza + donuts + ice cream all day for fear of going back on my 'diet' the following day. There was no in between.
There was also a time where I was glued to my phone, counting every calorie I put into my mouth. I even remember a time where an ex-boyfriend gave me an Oreo, I told him I'd take it 'to go' and threw it out the window of my car on the way home because I was too scared to go 'over my calories.' (Even though I knew I'd end up bingeing on 203585x more that night because I was legitimately starving myself... but that one Oreo mattered, right?)
Now I understand that I CAN have that one Oreo and get right back on track. I don't have to wait until tomorrow, or Monday. I don't have to have a free for all, eating all the things for fear that I won't ever be able to eat them again.
I now live in an abundance mindset around food: there's always more where that came from. I'll have the opportunity to eat ice cream again tomorrow if I want, so I don't need to eat it all right now. Most times, I can have a scoop, move on with my day, and eat healthy using my autocorrect tools at the very next meal.
So, please don't feel like you need to be ON or OFF. There is a middle ground, and it's a beautiful place to live. Moderation isn't sexy, but it sure as hell is effective.
I hope you found this article helpful! These are a few things I WISH I would've known when I started working out and eating healthy. I would've saved myself years of trouble... but hey, that's why I'm here to help you avoid making the mistakes I did!
Let me know: what's the biggest myth YOU'VE busted in your health & fitness journey? Or what's something you've heard a billion times, but you're not sure if it's a myth or the real deal? Comment below!
And if you want to learn about ALL of these topics + more while transforming your body and mindset, join my 6-week EMPOWER Challenge. We start Monday, June 4! Prices go up every Sunday until the Challenge starts so if you love a good deal, get in there sista!!