4 Fitness Myths You Should Stop Believing Now

by Jessica Smith
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4 Fitness Myths You Should Stop Believing Now

There are tons of opinions about the best way to get in shape. How do you know what recommendations you should follow? The advice that resonates with you is the best to heed. If you haven’t found the right path to improve your fitness, here are a few things you may need to read:

1. You don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn to stick with an exercise plan.

The reality is that the best time to work out is the time you’ll actually do it! While there are benefits to working out in the morning (one study showed that morning exercisers may sleep better), exercising in the evening can have its benefits, too. Another study revealed that between two groups of cyclists, those who worked out at 6 p.m. had higher power outputs than those who pedaled at 8 a.m.

What’s more important isn’t necessarily the timing but rather the consistency of your workouts.

2. You don’t have to do a ton of cardio to lose weight.

You’ll lose more weight more quickly by doing a combination of aerobics and strength training, not just a ton of cardio. Including resistance training in your plan means your body will have better shape and definition, too. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that among three groups of participants — one group performed only resistance training, one group completed only aerobics and one group did a combo of both — those assigned to aerobic training and aerobics plus resistance training lost more weight than those who did just resistance training.

While most forms of cardiovascular exercise can help you burn calories faster than resistance training, a combo of both can help you get the fastest, longest-lasting results.

3. You don’t have to suffer through your workouts.

Forget the idea that if you aren’t in pain, your workout isn’t effective! That’s ridiculous. I’ve seen too many clients come to me with knee injuries, shoulder issues and back pain because their workouts were too intense for their current fitness level and ability.

If your exercise plan leaves you feeling downright awful afterward, you could be doing more harm than good when it comes to seeing results. If your workout leaves you exhausted, you may burn fewer calories during the rest of your day. Plus, you may be setting yourself up for injury, which could potentially sideline you from all exercise for a while.

Finding the right fit with fitness means discovering movement that motivates and challenges you to the appropriate degree. Some muscle soreness is normal; being unable to walk the next day is not. A workout that is enjoyable and becomes something you look forward to is much easier to stick with over the long term, and this is the key to getting — and keeping — results.

4. You don’t have to look like a fitness model to be healthy, fit and energized.

Don’t let all of those “fitspo” images out there featuring rock-hard abs, chiseled arms and shelf-like buns convince you that if you don’t look like that, you aren’t healthy or in shape. I’ve known many models who looked amazing but were destroying their bodies with unhealthy dieting or obsessive exercising. Now, that’s not to say that having six-pack abs automatically means you aren’t healthy (there are plenty of healthy fitness models out there, too); it just shouldn’t be the standard by which we judge whether someone is “fit” or not.

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  • Praveen Dasari

    Hi.I have been trying to shed some weight lately. I go by cycle to office which is like 7km from where I live. I also do 2-3 km light running in the mornings. I’m not following a diet plan however I do calorie count and most of the time I fall short. My question is simple instead of loosing weight I am gaining. What is the mistake I’m doing ? Do I need to do more upper body exercise?? Waiting for a suggestion. Thanks in advance.

    • KidCreative

      Hi Praveen,
      There are three ways to gain weight: add muscle through exercise, add water through water retention, and add fat by eating more calories than you burn. If your goal is to lose fat (vs. weight), you should invest in a scale that calculates body fat percentage and track that vs. kilos. Your weight can fluctuate 1-2 kilos in a single day just due to water weight. Eating a lot of salt and not drinking enough fluids can cause your body to retain water.

      People who start exercising also put on weight two ways: they eat more than they usually do because exercising makes them hungrier, and they put on muscle due to increasing their exercise. This is not necessarily a bad thing since muscle is denser than fat. You could be putting on weight but still losing fat. But if you are in fact putting on fat, you may not be being hyper-vigilant about counting everything you put in your mouth (including alcohol, juice and soft drinks).

      In fact, calorie counting is notoriously inaccurate, and people typically undercount their calories by 15-20%. Many “calorie counting” apps and web sites have low estimates. In addition, BMR (basal metabolic rate) calculators which show you how many calories you burn just going about your day, are also not precise and can be off by 15-20% depending on your age, your thyroid output and many other factors. So, theoretically you could be as much as 40% off on your calorie counts.

      Also, calculators that show how many calories you burn via exercise are not very accurate as well and doing the same cardio exercise, like cycling or running, ever day can make your body more efficient at those exercises, causing you to burn fewer calories each session, the more you do them. You may be overestimating how many calories you burn — for example, a 7km bike ride burns about 150-200 calories depending on your weight. All else being equal, it would take you 22 days of 7km rides to lose a half a kilo of fat.

      So, my suggestion is to vary your exercise routine and add some resistance training, focus on fat loss vs. weight loss by measuring your body fat percentage, subtract 10% from your estimates of how many calories you are burning, lower your daily calorie consumption target by 15-20% and make sure you are hyper vigilant about counting everything. Keep all this up for 3-4 weeks and the fat should start to come off.


      • Praveen Dasari

        Hi Jeff,

        Thanks for your reply. It got me thinking and and now i can take correct actions.

        Your assumptions are correct. I have been cycling for the past one year and because of that my legs have become strong. This along with running, burnt fat and turned it to Muscle. As you said may be my body got used to this regular exercises. It’s high time to change my routine exercises.

        I don’t like hitting gyms, so I have to make training schedule focusing more on upper body, especially to decrease belly and waist fat. Any tips on this??

        • Couple of things to consider. Maybe scrap the morning run, and instead take a longer bike ride home after work, do a few intervals (sprints) or hill reps, this will help mix it up a bit,putting different stresses on the body. You can do a lot of upper body strength work with a theraband, a few Dumbbells and body weight exercises. If you have access to some off road running routes, with hills, mud, rocks etc, get out on the weekend and try them. Remember to check your diet is balanced, carbs, protein and fats, plus sufficient hydration, and as has already been said, don’t get fixated with a weight goal, % body fat is the real target. Ps remember to have fun!

          • Praveen Dasari

            Thanks Nicco…I run 10k’s and half Marathons so I don’t want to scrap running. I will try your suggestions. Trekking is one of hobbies so I guess unknowingly i’m applying stress. Thanks once again for your time and valuable advice.

    • Kevin

      Good afternoon Praveen,

      I think your cycling to and from work and running are great starts to your overall health goals. I would recommend doing more overall strength training alternating between upper body and lower body exercises every other day. 3 times per week at a gym is a good goal to shoot for but you can adjust as needed. For example, Mondays can be upper body, Tuesdays rest, Wednesdays lower body, Thursday rest, Fridays full body workouts. On rest days for strength training you can try and some additional cardio with eliptical, treadmeal, walking, etc. Try and develop a training schedule that you enjoy and is doable. Building more muscle will enable you to burn excess fat, and will actually make you slimmer since muscle is denser. Doing more cardio will improve blood flow which can in turn increase strength.

      A reason why you may be gaining weight can stem from your body gaining additional muscle in your legs from the cardio you have been doing to yout body being in starvation mode. If you’re cutting out a lot of calories and not getting the adequate nutrients you need, then your body is going to do everything in its power to maintain balance even by producing more fat tissue. Try in figure out if you’re eating enough and if you’re getting adequate rest.

      Using Calorie Count or a food tracking app is a good start, but take notes of what kinds of foods you are eating that may be high in sugars, saturated fats, sodium, etc. Cut out more processed foods and replace them with fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Don’t focus so much on the exact calories you’re getting, worry more about the nutrients. Make sure you are getting the recommended vitamins and minerals each day based on your gender and age. A diet doesn’t have to be so restrictive, but you should make a concerted effort to eat better things. What you will find is that you will end up eating a lot than you currently do if you start eating more of the good stuff and incorporating more strength training in your repertoire.

      I hope these suggestions help, and wish you luck with your fitness goals.

      Best Regards,

      • Praveen Dasari

        hmm..its time for me to change my exercise routines..I can feel muscle development on lower body because of cycling and running. I have to focus on upper body training. Thanks for your thought provoking insights. Dieting is not my thing. So I eat more of good food than bad.

    • Seanna

      The best thing about losing weight is feeling good about yourself! With eating healthy you actually are already making yourself feel 100% better. Although diets are hard to stick with and keep track of, it is the best way to lose weight fast (along with exercising).

      • Praveen Dasari

        Thanks for the tip Seanna, I prefer activites that i like and love to do.

    • Rebecca Nixon

      You may be gaining muscle mass! 😀 But the reality is that you can pretty easily eat your way through any workout, so it’s probably your diet. Start by making small changes, switching unhealthy options for healthier ones, and keep progressing with it. It takes time to build new habits but it’s worth it! If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be eating carrot sticks with my hummus instead of crisps, I’d have laughed in your face – but here I am! 😉

  • Karlo Garcia

    I started for the first time doing resistant training and I feel the benefits from just starting. I will incorporate resistant training with cardio combined.Thank you for the advices,really appreciate it.

  • Seanna Richard

    Hello! I am a 13 year old girl and I have been on a lean diet along with working out 3-5 days a week. At first I lost 10 pounds but now I am starting to gain it back. What should I do to keep my goal (105) stay? I am 109.7 right now?

    • Sophia G

      Honey, you don’t need to lose any more weight. you are perfect! I honestly envy you. I’m 14 and I weigh over 140 lbs (I don’t look like it though) and I’ve lost twenty pounds already. You don’t need to lose anymore weight!

    • Allison

      You’re 13. You’re still growing, it’s healthy for you to be gaining weight. Don’t worry about the number on the scale or counting calories. Just keep excersing and eating a variety of fruits and veggies. Maybe talk to your doctor about what is and isn’t healthy eating habits.

    • Don’t focus on lbs… It’s more important how you feel. P.S muscle is heavier than fat 🙂

      • Rose

        Umm no. 1kg of muscle is the same as 1 kg of fat. Muscle is dense, fat is not…therefore you appear bigger with fat vs leaner with muscle.

    • Blackdawn_70631

      All your workout needs to be is walking. Anything else and you’ll be straining your growing body.
      Eating wise is best to eat whenever you feel hungry. Not hungry because you’re bored. Eat fruits, veggies and yogurts and meats and grains. And try not to eat junk food. It is OK to eat junk food. But only once a day and don’t replace real food with junk food.
      For instance, if you want a snack. Go for fruits, veggies or yogurt. Not junk food.
      Have a shut off time at night for not eating and if you’re still hungry after shut off time a fruit, veggie or yogurt.

  • True! Just have to enjoy in exercising and the results will come…

  • Blackdawn_70631

    I am no where near looking fit and lean. I’m actually 5 pounds overweight and have gotten the green light by my doctor that I’m healthy.
    I’m healthy on the inside, but the outside gives a more moderate picture instead of perfect.

  • Praveen Dasari

    Will try this routines. Valuable info. Thanks a ton for your time and reply.

  • MadameAlto .

    And the webpage designers blithely ignore number 4 by posting a picture of a flawlessly sleek runner as she sprints through space. Just for once I’d like to see real people instead of stock photos.

  • Marci Jensen

    I had weight loss surgery Dec 10th 2015, I’m eating between 700-1000 calories a day mostly protein, I’m doing 30 minutes of cardio and then strength training 4-6 times a week… I’m not losing weight!!! In the last month I’ve only lost about a pound and a half. I realize my calories are extremely low but I can’t physically eat more.
    I was just told by a trainer at my gym today that the work In doing in the gym is a waste of time due to my caloric intake…. Very very discouraging…. Any advice would be greatly appreciated…

    • SophiaV

      Hi Marci, can you please clarify when you say you can’t eat physically eat more? And why did you choose a diet with mostly protein? Are you eating enough healthy fats?

      • keygirlus

        She had a gastric bypass. Her useable stomach is about the size of an apricot.

        • SophiaV

          Thanks for clarifying.
          In this case, Marci, you should confirm with MD what exercises you can do, only two months after such a serious surgery.

      • Lisa Risley

        Absolutely right! Healthy fats are important. Most people are afraid to eat anything with fats. However, there is a stark difference between healthy and unhealthy fats. I lost weight while eating more food and more fat. I was just eating the right kinds – olive oil, coconut oil, lean protein and veggies. 🙂

    • keygirlus

      See your MD immediately. The body requires a certain number of calories per day even if you are in a coma. You are below that #. Exercise at those calorie levels CAN KILL YOU. If your information is accurate, your trainer & post operative educationn are criminally inadequate. Your body will consume its own muscle fiber, including heart muscle. This is why a high protein diet.

      • Rebecca Nixon

        I concur with keygirlus. I usually roll my eyes when someone posts in a panic that what someone else is doing is dangerous, but in this case, she is absolutely correct. A bit of light exercise is beneficial, go for a walk, get your heart rate up a little, get some fresh air… but it is VERY soon post-surgery for you to be doing cardio, dangerously so. I’d also wager that given your surgery, you’re probably not absorbing a good portion of the calories you’re eating, either. How many years did it take you to put on all that weight? What’s a few more months before you dramatically shed a whole lot of it? I know it sounds harsh but you NEED to be more patient, or as key girl says, you could end up killing yourself, or just doing a hell of a lot of serious damage to your heart. This is coming from someone who works out for an hour every day and doesn’t consume many more calories than you – it *can* be done, but I had to get pretty damn fit before I could manage it. Post-surgery would be completely mad. Take care of yourself and be patient, there is no quick-fix here. Use your calories wisely and eat lots of nutrient-dense, healthy foods and talk to your doctor about safe levels of exercise and do not exceed them. And check in regularly with your doc to see when it’s safe to start hitting the gym.

    • jude

      You need to eat more often , if I don’t eat atleast 1200-1500 calorie I won’t lose nothing. Used to think less was better but when your doing exercise you need to calories or it just won’t work.

      • Lisa Risley

        Whether or not you’re exercising, your body requires a certain number of calories just to function properly. It’s all about both proper nutrition AND proper exercise, which includes both cardio and weight training.

    • Jason Weber

      What most people don’t realize is there is no diet or surgery that is a quick way to loose weight. I’ve had some friends that have had the pypass surgery and it took months before they noticed results. You need to exercise like your doing. Think of this…if your loosing weight but your gaining it back in muscle are u ever going to see a change in numbers? Never!!!! If that trainer said it’s a waste of time he should not be a trainer. Biggest thing is you have to go slow and give it time. It will come. And there is nothing wrong with how many calories your taking in. It needs to come from quality meats, veggies, fruits and some carbs. no processed foods. Hope this helps.

    • J001

      In addition to other comments, you probably need many more healthy fats and many fewer carbs — except from leafy green vegetables, and you are probably having too many proteins.

      See a sports nutritionist for the optimal balancing, but the above is accurate without knowing more details.

    • Blue

      How are you doing now? Feeling? I also have had a weight loss surgery. The type of calories you are consuming are more important than how many you are. Are you eating protein first? Veggies and a few starches are necessary when we also work out. Are you drinking protein shakes? A great way of getting In The extra protein we need, especially so early. Don’t be discouraged as you go, you will have plateaus and stall on the weight loss. That is normal & can last 3-6 weeks at a time. If it isn’t three weeks, it isn’t a plateau yet. Be kind to yourself, keep up the hard work. And talk to your support group & Doctor

    • Lisa Risley

      You’re not eating enough calories. I actually lost weight eating more calories. I was eating more protein and vegetables, but I was eating a lot. I also did cardio and weight training. calories don’t just provide your body with energy to exercise. They are also used to sustain your ORGANS. Your organs need calories too. See your doctor and/or a nutritionist for sound nutritional advice. And do what they tell you – don’t subtract calories from the number they tell you and underfeed your body.

    • Karen

      Hi Marci! Please, please, please do not take advice from those that either have not had weight loss surgery or are not involved in the weight loss surgery support/help arena! I have had 3 different weight loss surgeries and the best advice comes from those in the know! You can do this! It is very normal for your body to stall occasionally with weight loss….and do keep exercising! Your trainer simply does not know what he is talking about! I wish you the very best…just follow the prescribed eating and exercise program and the weight will come off!

    • lonnie johnston

      Hey Marci; My intake is between 1350 and 1700 calories per day. I do cardio 6 days a week for 30 minutes and strength training for 40 minutes 4 days a week. I get frustrated when I get on the scale and only see a small weight loss. I do not know you age, current weight or body type but I have lost over 2% body fat in the last 6 months. I suggest you increase you calorie intake and change up your routine. Weight is easy to gain but a real BITCH to lose. Good Luck

    • Lynne Hanna

      Do not listen to someone who does not work with post-bariatric surgery patients. Talk to support team they are here to help you. I am 8 mos post-bariatric sleeve (80% less stomach).
      Did surgeon clear you to do this much exercise? I was not cleared until my 3 mos. Post visit to do anything but walking & light (3#) weights.

    • Eeyore

      This is definately a question for your doctor. Surely he/she is experienced with this problem.

      If you are exercising that much possibly you are building muscle to counter-act any fat loss. But I wouldn’t think it would be that much. At that few calories you definitely should be losing weight. The average female body burns about 1000-1200 calories a day just doing nothing. Like if you were just laying down all day like a vegetable you would probably burn almost that many calories. So I would talk to a doctor and see if they can explain it.

      To lose weight you have to exist on a deficit. You take in energy in the form of calories and then burn energy to function in the form of glucose(sugar) and fat. Your body naturally stores glucose in your liver for a quick source of energy. Like if you were a gazelle on the plains of Africa and a lion came along you would need lots of energy and fast. That’s where it would come from. It’s like a gas tank on a car. Except your body tends to try to keep the tank full just in case, so whenever you burn some off it tries to replace it. However if you continue to exist on an energy deficit it cannot replace it and then has to find an alternate source of energy. Then it turns to stored fat. This is a big change that happens since it is a whole different form of metabolism so it’s not a switch our body does easily.

      This is why we must stick to a diet regimen at first without cheating because it’s not so easy for the body to switch from one tank to another and then back again. It doesn’t just turn on and off like a light switch.

      Fat burns slow. So if we exert ourselves too much while existing on a calorie deficit we may get dizzy and even pass out. That quick source of energy in the form of sugar in our liver is gone. Fat also burns “dirty” in that it produces a lot of substances like acids and ketones to circulate in our blood and have to be filtered out. That is why drinking water is so important. Otherwise we can start to feel icky from it.

      Exercising can help in Weightloss mainly just by burning extra calories. But if you check on how many calories different exercises actually burn, it’s disappointing to say the least. Lol. It’s like exercise for a half hour and you can have one cookie. Hardly seems worth it! But I tend to believe that building stronger muscles and being more fit overall will make us more active and make us burn more calories just during our regular activities. I should look to see if there’s any research on that.

      Anyway, sorry for the long rant but I hope you find the answer. Losing weight sux. It really does but, I’ve been successful at it now for many years. I do yo yo diet somewhat but I’m ok with that. I just think it’s not that unusual or harmful for people’s weight to fluctuate. It’s better than just giving up and letting it just go up I guess. But I just don’t let the people who claim I’m suppose to love it get down. Lol

    • Jamie London

      You might be eating too many carbs, which is spiking your insulin. Perhaps replace some carbs with healthy fats and protein, such as nuts, avocado and eggs etc.

  • SunshineFLGirl

    Thanks for the great tips! I am very happy to see the early morning routine debunked. I work out in the late afternoons. I have lost 50 pounds doing it!

  • Sue Joan

    No one mentions they REAL reason to exercise cardio…to exercise our hearts and NOT to lose weight… Because if we do not exercise our hearts, we WILL get heart disease and trust me, as a person whose husband is suffering with that, you don’t want to go there. Just saying…

  • Anne Mason

    Amen to getting rid of these myths; especially thinking you have to look like a professional fitness instructor or athlete to be healthier. I’ve lost over 130 lbs. in a little over a year and a half and am still in the process of losing more (see “Before” and “Current” pics below). My body in no way, shape, or form looks anything like these “Models of Perfection”; however, I haven’t felt this good in over 15 years. I know my body, mind, and spirit are so much healthier than before AND still getting better! : )

  • John Boros

    Being over 65, I would like to see fitness tips for people my age.

  • GulfCoastTan

    What is the best ratio for cardio vs strength training

  • Eeyore

    I spent my life trying to feel better through exercise until I finally decided I was done. My doctor asked me if I was exercising as per usual and I said, “No!” He said, “I sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you with that question why, prey tell aren’t you exercising any more?” I said, “because I hate it. I hate it and I’m not going to do it any more.” He said, “but you’ve always tried to keep up an exercise routine.” “Yeah, and it made me miserable”. “Well you need to find something you enjoy doing.” “I enjoy swimming”. “Well you should do that. Swimming is great exercise.” “Nope. Actually, I enjoy floating”. “Well, no that doesn’t count.”

    He went on to ask how exercising made me feel. I told him all about my pattern of exercising for awhile and then crashing. About how after a session of exercise I felt like a limp rag for at least an hour.

    That was the beginning of me getting properly diagnosed as having “exercise intolerance” caused by an autonomic nervous system disorder.

    It is believed the ANS disorders are much more common than once thought. I believe there are many people out there like me who try and try to keep up and exercise routine because everyone (including doctors) are telling them it will make them feel better and yet it is the one thing that makes them feel worse.

    Fortunately my doctor was able to help me develop a routine that I can handle and I’m more fit than ever and I don’t despise the gym any more. However a personal trainer is out of the question since they aren’t knowledgeable about people like me and would have to learn to do the opposite as usual. Instead of pushing the person to go a little farther, my doctors are always warning to be very careful not to go to far. To stop at a certain point even if I feel like I could do more.