Exercise Myths

1. Heavy weights bulk you up.

What the bulk? I hear this from women all the time. I’m going to say something controversial: Ladies, drop the three-pound weights and pick up something heavier! I promise you that those five-, eight-, 10-, 15-pound weights are not going to make you big. First and foremost, we women do not produce enough testosterone for enlargement to occur. In fact, only some body types are genetically dispositioned to gain large muscle mass easily.

What many people refer to as “bulky” is often adipose tissue (fat). If you clean up your diet and become leaner, you wouldn’t think you had too much muscle on your shoulders, calves or thighs. Muscle is very lean tissue, but when a layer of fat covers muscle, that is when the perception of bulky occurs. I lift weights, I’m super petite (and curvy) and the only time that I look bulky is when I’m carrying around too much fat on my thighs because I’ve been eating poorly.

2. The postnatal “bounce back” myth.

This is my absolute favorite. Had a baby recently? Congratulations! You’re probably getting anxious to “bounce back” to the old you again. Guess what? You’ll never be the old you again, and that’s not a negative thing. You’ve got a whole new life (and body) now, Mama. It’s fuller, richer, maybe thinner, curvier, more fit, and probably stressed, but overall, it’s very different. The one thing that you’re not doing is going backward, and I think it’s crazy (and ironic) that we refer to it as “bouncing back.” The process should be called “bouncing forward.” Look ahead to getting fit in this new and often better version of yourself.

3. I don’t need to lose weight, so I don’t need to exercise.

The whole point of working out is to simply remove that nasty flab, right? Sure, you should demand that from your workout, but that’s not the only reason you should exercise. Let’s not confuse working out to get fit with working out to lose weight. Working out to become fit means that you’re strengthening the systems of your entire body for everyday, peak performance. It’s a lot like servicing your car. And that is what your main goal should be. To quote Fergie, “I’m working on my fitness.”

Once you know all the benefits of being fit, you have to be absolutely crazy not to get moving. Physical activity helps control your weight, strengthen bones and muscles, improve mental health and mood, and reduce risk of heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers!

4. A simple resistance band cannot change my body.

Don’t resist the resistance band! The resistance band is my absolute favorite tool. Bands can transform the body differently than weights can because they are so versatile. They create resistance in all directions, which helps strengthen neglected muscle groups, and they require serious coordination and balance, so you end up utilizing more muscles to balance and stabilize the body. For example, Lithe’s Higher Power Band System is a true multitasking prop. Simply holding on to our bands in “T” utilizes so many muscles: Defines the armpit, dynamically works the shoulder girdle and works the rhomboids and trapezius isometrically while stretching pectoralis minor and major. They shape the body to absolute perfection — all the way down to your hips.

5. It’s too difficult.

Behavioral change is always difficult, but the hardest part is getting started by choosing to make a change. You’ve heard of inertia. A body in motion tends to stay in motion, and a body at rest tends to stay at rest. Once you get moving, it’s like a snowball effect. You start to feel and look better; you’ll have more energy and you’ll be moved (literally) to improve your life. Pretty soon you’ll be drinking green juice and buying a Vitamix. Take it one day at a time, and try not to give in to the negative voice in your head.

6. It’s so boring.

You don’t have to sit on a bike and watch TV, or run on a treadmill and read. Do something that you are passionate about. For me, it’s cheerleading. When my college cheerleading career ended, I knew that I never wanted to do anything else to stay fit. Why? The fun factor, team factor and mental challenge of remembering choreography. Pick up that basketball, glove, lacrosse stick, soccer ball or pom-poms and get to it. Remember after-school practice in high school? Go for that life again. Hit your sport after work. You weren’t doing it to be fit (it was a happy bonus); you were active and having fun. There’s no reason that should change now that you’re older.

7. It takes forever.

If you’ve changed your mindset from losing flab to getting fit (see #2), then you will see results immediately. Sure, your thighs won’t shrink several inches in one week, but your mood will brighten and your energy will spike almost immediately. Plus, getting fit doesn’t have to take a really long time if you’re exercising efficiently. There’s a great deal of new research that shows a healthy exercise regimen doesn’t mean spending hours at the gym every single day. If your workout is effective (like Lithe Method), it shouldn’t last longer than an hour, and you’ll begin to see results more quickly than you thought.

8. If I stop working out, the muscles I’ve developed will turn to fat.

Muscle and fat are as different as latex and cotton. One cannot become the other. However, cutting back on your workout time will allow the developed muscle tissue to atrophy (shrink). The decreased muscle tone combined with new fat deposits (from lack of exercise) tend to give a softening appearance that muscle that has turned to fat.

9. I don’t have a six-pack.

  1. Everyone has a “six-pack”! For most, the six-pack is covered with one or several layers of fat, so you can’t quite see it! Six-pack ab visibility can be related to genetic body type and body fat (adipose) tissue. Therefore, cardiovascular exercise and diet play a critical role in abdominal muscle visibility. I like to differentiate between men and women in terms of the body composition required to make the 6 pack visible. It’s really important to understand that we need essential fat on our bodies to be healthy. Fat is a good thing. With that being said, in my experience, men can drop their body fat to low levels (below 10 percent) and they will see the six-pack. Women, on the other hand, will also have to drop down to low levels that may not be considered healthy (15 percent or less) to see their six-pack. Unless you have a low body fat percentage, abdominal exercises alone are insufficient to give you a six-pack visibility. But don’t give up if you have high body fat. Keep building those abs because a strong core will help you get through that cardio workout, ease back pain and improve posture!

10. I need to take protein supplements/drink protein shakes to build muscle/enhance performance.

Ah, gotta love the magic of marketing. Protein can help promote a healthy weight and can help muscles recover after a good workout. Supplements are convenient and can absolutely help some populations, especially bodybuilders and athletes, but the average Joe and Jane who visit the studio/gym or Lithes four to six times a week to stay fit probably doesn’t need to down casein or vegan protein shakes in order to build muscle and enhance and energize their performance. Yes, it is true that nutritional needs can fluctuate due to age, health, or stress, and you do need more protein if you want to build muscle size and strength, but the protein in many powders and supplements contain protein derived from soy, milk, eggs, rice, or seeds (i.e., whole food). You are essentially paying a supplement manufacturer to extract and process protein from food and then sell it back to you when you can easily get that protein directly from a healthy, whole-foods diet instead. You’ll get the benefits of the shake in a more complete, whole-food package.

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