8 Fitness Myths That Keep You Fat and Ways To Avoid Them

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Fitness myths abound in our fitness culture. They may be left over from a time when thinking a certain way was in fashion. It might be just because some folks have never challenged some ideas because they simply make sense. Or, it might be because sometimes myths give us a way out as an excuse not to do what it really takes to succeed. This article is all about some of the myths that once held me in their iron grip for years. They were directly responsible for sabotaging my efforts to shed fat. Read on my friend, for I really wish I knew these things long ago. I would have saved myself loads of effort and trouble.

Fitness Myth #1 – It’s Not Good To Cut Back On How Much You Eat.
It’s not hard to convince someone they need to eat to stay healthy. After all, if you don’t eat enough, you suffer serious health consequences and can even die. So it’s easy to balk at the idea of eating less. It’s also an easy sell, to convince folks that eating less can be a bad idea. On top of the primal urge to eat to stay alive, there is also a bit of science out there that suggests cutting back on too much food for a long time can make weight loss more difficult.

I’m not going to go into debate on where the whole starvation mode idea has holes in it. For now, it’s important to know that fat loss can be rapidly accelerated by cutting back on luxury calories that are primarily supporting your body fat levels. Liquid calories, extra helpings and snacking are all examples of calories you can probably cut back on significantly without any repercussions other than fat loss.

Fitness Myth #2 – You Must Workout Less Than an Hour.
On top of the “don’t eat less” idea, is the myth that we shouldn’t exercise for any more time than an hour or so. The theory is that hormones levels change and you stop burning fat and start burning muscle or something along those lines. Again, there is always something to the science, but the idea that you shouldn’t exercise more than an hour can significantly limit your fat burning potential. There is nothing wrong with going out for a 3 hour hike or taking part in a 75 mile charity bike ride. You will burn fat and calories the entire time. I promise.

Fitness Myth #3 – You Must Take Entire Days Off From Exercise.
Another limiting myth is the idea that you must take a day off from exercise after each workout. Once again, this idea can severely limit your calorie burning potential. Instead of staying active and burning calories by the truck load, you could end up only exercising 2-3 days of the week.

There is no cookie cutter pattern you must follow when it comes to exercise. While a pattern of work days and rest days might be a good place to start, you’re more than free to experiment with how many days of activity you can do in a week. Some people can go weeks without taking a full day off.

Plus a rest day doesn’t mean you have to sit around and do nothing. Some light activity that still burns lots of fat and calories can often aid in recovery just as well, if not better, than a complete rest day. Above all, listen to your body. Give it rest when it needs it, but if it is not telling you that it needs a rest then feel free to explore expanding your activities.

Fitness Myth #4 – It’s All About Carbs, Fat, Sugar, Organics.
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I once had a client ask me why she wasn’t losing weight even though she took all of the bread out of her diet. Unfortunately, she fell into the myth that fat levels on the body are purely regulated by a specific dietary aspect.

Sometimes these dietary aspects focus on macro-nutrients or meal timing. Other times, it might be about food combinations or food preparation techniques. Whatever the focus is, it can distract the dieter from focusing on the root cause of fat loss or fat gain.

While all dietary aspects do matter, they are nearly an influence to what really matters which is over all calorie balance. Every diet strategy is a sort of back door approach to manipulating the calorie balance and effecting weight loss. However, when the focus becomes too much on meal timing or consumption of certain nutrients, you can do everything right but still not affect the calorie balance and thus never lose another ounce.

Fitness Myth #5 – Metabolism Can Be Boosted and Is Important.
Another aspect that can distract is the attention to metabolism. Our fitness culture is filled with myths about how to change or boost the human metabolism. Most of these ideas are just flat-out false, but even the ones that may work may not result in any weight loss.

Your metabolism is just once piece of the calorie balance puzzle. It’s not the be all and end all. A fast metabolism doesn’t guarantee weight loss or effortless weight management. Over the years, I’ve actually found I’m much better off not worrying about metabolism at all. I really do believe it’s one of those things that do not warrant nearly as much attention as we give it.

Fitness Myth #6 – We Can Accurately Track Calories.
Knowing that calorie balance is the foundation for fluctuations in body fat levels is important, but it’s not necessarily a perfect answer. A lot of folks take to calorie tracking yet feel something must be wrong with them when their food logs say they burn more calories than they ate yet they are not losing weight.

Both calorie consumption and calorie expenditure can vary with even the slightest changes in diet or lifestyle. On top of that, reports often come out that food labels have been inaccurate for many packaged foods. Plus a lot of foods we consume don’t even have food labels.

The bottom line is that even the most technical methods of calorie measurement are estimated guesses at best. They are a good place to start, but it takes millions of dollars in scientific equipment and a tightly controlled diet to get even close to the caloric tracking accuracy. We simply don’t have that kind of accuracy through reading food labels and tracking calories burned on an elliptical.

Fitness Myth #7 – You Can Train Your Body To Be Lean.
The myth that sidelined my efforts for years was the idea that I could train my body to be lean with “skinny specific” exercises. Naturally, I felt this meant cardio but sometimes it means circuit training, light weight training or body sculpting classes. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to know that there is no such thing as an exercise that trains you to be leaner.

Sure, exercise burns calories but in the battle of the bulge, that’s about all it can offer. This is because exercise trains and conditions muscle, but not fat. You can train the muscles to burn more fat, or be stronger, but you can’t directly tell fat to go away.

Fitness Myth #8 – There Is Something Wrong With You or Some Sort of Problem With Your Food.
Finally, we come to the myth that is largely spread in an effort to sell weight Loss products you don’t need. A lot of weight loss product marketers will use a strategy where they convince you that you can’t lose weight because of some problem you didn’t know existed. Lucky for you, the best way to over come that problem is to buy their product.

If you buy into the idea that something is wrong, not only do you set yourself up to be scammed, but you also give up the possibility that you can lose weight under your own power. Once you give up that power, you practically give up any potential to lose weight.

While there is always the slight chance that something may be off, chances are pretty good you are perfectly fine. If you do suspect something to be off then please see a specialist immediately for an accurate diagnosis. That’s the best way to know if something is wrong while also knowing the best course of action to take and fix it.

The best thing about myths like these is that once they fall, the possibility of weight loss becomes a much more real prospect. If you suspect any other myths that may be holding you back, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

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About Author

Matt Schifferle

My name is Matt Schifferle and I'm an A.C.E. Certified Personal Trainer, CrossFit Level 1 coach, underground strength coach and I'm a 5th degree black belt in Taekwon-Do. I specialize in outdoor and playground based underground and CrossFit style bootcamps. See my profile page for more information!

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