The health and fitness world is full of misinformation and mythology. Part of this is that those trying to capitalize on the misinformation and sell their products, continue to push it into the consumers’ minds as if it were fact. I think the other part of the story is that those same consumers are desperate to find some short cut or miracle that will save them from having to put in the time and/or hard work that it might really take.
There are myths aplenty, so, in a series of posts I’ll start to address a few of them each post. Today, let’s start with one of the big ones,
No pain, no gain.
If you’re an athlete or former athlete, you may have had practices that left you so sore that you could barely walk. (I know I have.) Usually, this is because when you were supposed to be doing your off-season workouts, you weren’t. Then you come into pre-season workouts that are high intensity, ramping you up for the season, but your body wasn’t ready and, in the sports world, the coaches just keep pushing you spouting, “No pain, no gain.” Pain is not weakness leaving the body no matter what anybody says. Pain (and let’s stick to muscular pain, not injury pain.) is telling you that you did more than your body was ready for. The smart plan is to ease into a program, starting at a point that doesn’t make you sore and gradually ramping up the intensity at a pace that you never get sore. Pain, for most, is a reason to not exercise and, if it’s not necessary, why go there?
You can spot reduce fat (lose from one particular area)
This is absolutely one myth that is perpetuated by those wishing to cash in at your expense. (Just Google “lose belly fat” to see the ads.) The fact is when we exercise, we burn more calories. We don’t burn calories from any one area, not even the working area. We burn them systemically, taking from all over the body. It’s like you have an inflatable fat suit. You open the spigot and air is let out from the whole suit. Doing sit ups doesn’t burn the fat from your waist. Doing triceps extensions doesn’t burn the fat off the back of your arms. They burn calories systemically and can build the muscle under the fat, but that’s it. Your “trouble areas” will be the last places to get lean because that’s where you carry more fat cells. Concentrate on your diet, a well-rounded exercise program and give it time.
The final myth for this post is
The more you sweat, the more fat you burn.
Sweating is simply a way for your body to cool off. You sweat, the sweat evaporates and that helps to cool you down. Now sometimes you will have a great workout and you are drenched in sweat. Don’t let it fool you. You had a great workout and your body is trying to cool itself, but, the high heat, high humidity, or lack of air circulation is the real reason you’re sweating so profusely. Let’s face it, haven’t you ever just been sitting and just couldn’t stop sweating? Does that mean you’re burning fat with no effort? Nope. What about swimming in the ocean? If the water temperature is lower than body temperature, you’re not going to sweat. Obviously, if you’re working hard at it, you’re burning those calories whether you sweat or not.
Of course companies are still trying to sell you on the myth. The old sauna suits are still being sold and still touting “Lose weight and burn calories quickly with this sauna suit.” The thermal waist wrap pictured, is actually playing two myths at once, spot reduction through sweating.
There is ever more research being done in the health and fitness industry and it’s by knowing what the current science says that we can steer clear of the myths and misinformation that surround us. Please, ask me any questions in the comment section below.