Happy New Year and welcome to get-fit-quick season! Advertisers are working as hard they can to pitch you everything from ab crunching widgets to weight loss pills to miracle diet plans and you’re buying. I predict it’ll be another multi-billion dollar year in the diet and fitness industry. The fact that most of the widgets, pills and diets will not be the answer you’ve been looking for won’t be remembered in a year. My aim with this article is to dispel a few myths before you start making your 3 easy payments.
Crunches, situps or (insert the device here) will give you a 6 pack. Enough already! You can do crunches all day long and not have visible abs if your body fat is not low enough. Besides, situps and crunches with bad form, can lead to back pain for people who do not follow a sensible workout program. You can’t spot reduce!
More exercise is better. Sure, if you want to get hurt and have to deal with cravings and lose your friends because you have no time for them anymore. Look, we are made to move, but let’s use some common sense about intensity and frequency. Your body needs time to recover and this becomes more and more important as you age. Insomnia, an elevated heart rate upon rising, general aches and pains, irritability and headaches are all symptoms of overtraining.
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All fats are bad. First of all, this is basically marketing hype leftover from the 80’s when the low-fat/no-fat movement was in full force. You need fat as part of a healthy diet and to live. It is important for normal bodily repair, energy, absorption of certain vitamins, and protection of your organs. The key is to get as many healthy fats as possible from sources like grain products, fish, beans, fish oil and nuts. While saturated fats from animal sources should be kept to a minimum, the only truly “bad” fats are trans fats, which you’ll find masquerading as hydrogenated oils in boxed and convenience foods.
Carbohydrates are bad. This is another marketing misnomer, which has just enough truth to it, to give it legs. Refined (white) carbohydrates are best avoided because they are stripped of all nutrition and will spike your insulin levels. Sugar also should be kept to a minimum because of the affect it has on your cravings and your waistline if over-consumed. What are important are complex, unrefined carbohydrates such as oatmeal, brown rice, vegetables and moderate amounts of fruit.
The point I’m making is the only “secret” to weight loss and long-term vitality are moving every day, eating quality foods, getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night and living your life with purpose. Everything else is hype to sell you something.