Fitness myths: 3 things I've changed my mind about...
Updated: Apr 8, 2021
Hi everyone, welcome back to my blog. Today I will be reflecting on 3 things people have said to me, (and that I’m sure I said to other people too) that I now no longer think are true.
Before we begin, please note that this is just me sharing some thoughts and feelings based on research and personal experience.
1. IF YOU EXERCISE ,YOU CAN EAT ANYTHING YOU WANT
I hear this a lot.
There’s often the idea that when we start doing physical activity we can eat anything we like without gaining weight as we will burn it off.
For me, this saying is risky for a few reasons: The first being ‘whatever you want’ usually means extra treats and extra calories, the second, because it promotes that you can out exercise a bad diet and the third, it ignores how important it is to fuel your body correctly for a workout.
Whilst we can look up the amount of calories in a meal and work out how much exercise would be needed to burn it off, in my opinion, this isn’t the healthiest approach.
I have learnt that if you exercise, it matters even more what you eat. When I became a Zumba instructor, I gained weight as I had adopted the ‘I can eat whatever I want, I’ll burn it off’ attitude. It just wasn’t the case and not only did I gain weight, I wasn’t fuelling my body correctly and it took me longer to recover.
I started adding more nutritious foods to my diet and my performance, energy and recovery time have since improved.
So let’s make sure we exercise because it is good for our mental and physical health, not to counteract what we have eaten, and let’s be conscious about eating nutritious food to fuel our bodies for the activities we are doing.
2. DON’T EAT THAT, YOU’LL GET FAT
Hearing this, my younger self created an interesting idea about how my body digested food. I thought when having a treat, for example a piece of cake, it would go through my digestive system and come out at the end as a piece of fat that would then travel to a part of my body and stay there.
Needless to say, that’s definitely not how digestion works. Fat consumption does not directly cause you to gain fat, a calories surplus does, that is eating more calories than we are burning, and healthy fats are an essential part of our diet.
I can see why people would say it. In order to lose fat, we need to be in a calorie deficit and from a calorie perspective, fat contains 9 calories per gram, where as protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram. Per gram, by eating less fat, we eat fewer calories.
While fat contributes to our calorie intake, the saying ‘if you eat fat, you’ll get fat’ is untrue. It’s important to moderate the trans fats we consume, due to them being harmful to our health, for example cakes, cookies and doughnuts, and focus more on healthier fats found in, for example, nuts, avocados and eggs, but we can eat all of these, without gaining fat, providing we are not in a calorie surplus.
3. TO LOSE WEIGHT YOU JUST HAVE TO EAT LESS AND MOVE MORE
Whilst in theory this works and sounds manageable, and exercising has an array of benefits, I would suggest that a healthy fat loss is so much more than restricting calories and moving more. To me, this saying is too simplistic and doesn’t promote a healthy lifestyle.
The statement implies that weight loss is only about exercise and food consumption, but there are many other factors that come into play.
One factor, for example, is that not all calories provide equal health benefits. We benefit in terms of nutrients eating 500 calories of fish and vegetables compared to 500 calories of sweets. Also, the food we eat influences our hormones, brain chemistry, immune system and gut flora; eating the right food can help us feel fuller for longer, curb cravings and boost our metabolism.
Another factor is our mindset. Feeling deprived and restricted may result in us losing motivation, and just focusing on calories may create an unhealthy relationship with food. It could lead us to ignore our natural hunger cues, or feel guilty if we have exceeded the calories we have set ourselves. We can still be in a calorie deficit, eating the food we enjoy, without feeling deprived or guilty. For me, a successful weight loss journey is about focusing more on learning how many calories are in foods, selecting more quality foods and understanding how our body reacts to them, not just eating less and moving more. ‘Less’ is also subjective and might lead to someone restricting their calories too much, lowering their metabolism, immune system and energy levels.
We should always remember that the relationship between our body, food and weight is complex and that the fitness and nutrition industries are forever changing. Another thing is that it’s ok to change our minds; just because we thought something was a good idea in the past, doesn’t mean we have to stick to it. There will always be new ideas, advice and theories, but as long as we are listening to our bodies, treating them the best we can, and open to learning, growing and changing, I think we are on the right track.
Thanks so much for reading, until next time, take care and be kind :) x
The above information is for entertainment purposes only, and you should always seek the help of a registered dietitian or medical professional for your unique needs. This content should never be used as a substitute for direct medical advice.