Hi there! We really need to talk about an exercise myth (or two) that could be keeping your from your goals.
If we haven’t already met, I’m Mike Starks the CEO and Founder of Personal Trainer Food.
And after losing 50 pounds myself, and helping thousands of people also lose weight too, I’m no stranger to exercise myths.
Is An Exercise Myth Keeping You From Seeing Your Abs?
First of all: yes, those are my real abs. At 52 years old, I maintain a 6-7% body fat using a few simple strategies.
But let me tell you, when it comes to losing weight, getting fit, or seeing your abs, there’s a lot of noise and confusion out there.
There seem to be five really common exercise myths that I get asked about all the time.
They trip a lot of people up.
So chances are, at least one of these myths is holding you back too.
Let’s clear up some of these myths today so you can confidently achieve your fitness and weight loss goals.
Myth 1: Marathons Are a Sure Way to Get Skinny
If you’ve ever admired the cover of a running magazine, you’ve probably thought to yourself that if you ran a marathon you would finally be able to get in the best shape of your life.
In my opinion, if you are not a natural born runner, this myth will actually set you back years in your fitness goals. I’ve seen it time and again.
Let me illustrate my point…
A few years ago, one of my employees came to me and said, “Mike, I want to lose weight.” I said “that’s great!” So I told her “walk every day; start out slow, and follow these Healthy Weight Loss Guidelines.” The following week, she came in and announced “I’m starting to train for a half marathon!”
Concerned, I gently said, “you don’t want to do that to lose weight. You are either going to hurt yourself or you might give up, because that’s one of those exercise myths, not how fat is lost.”
She started training for it anyways, and sure enough, she ended up ripping her Achilles tendon and had to have surgery. She tried too hard to use exercise as a means to lose weight.
But what happened to her mentally was worse. Once you over-exercise to the point of injury, the loss of mobility and the inability to do the simplest things is depressing. Many people end up turning to food to soothe their disappointment, completely giving up on fat loss goals.
Fact: You do not need to run marathons to lose weight. Over-training yourself in a sport that most of us aren’t cut out for is a sure recipe for injury. Running as part of a cardio program is commendable, but the exercise myths that you can jump from the couch into marathon training is a big mistake.
Strategy: walk for weight loss, do sports for fun.
You want an exercise routine that you can do for the rest of your life. Not one that sidelines you with injuries. I know that walking 20 minutes a day is less glamorous to talk about at dinner parties, but it is one of the most effective exercises you can do to burn fat without injury.
As your fitness increases, you can take on more intense sports gradually. If you want to choose more intense sports, do those that bring you joy. Water-skiing brings me joy, I do it as often as I can because I can spend time doing it with my family. It’s far more fulfilling to me than spending lonely hours pounding the pavement so I can maybe lose a little weight.
Myth 2: More Exercise Means Faster Fat Loss
During my RECON men’s weight loss study, our 10 men lost anywhere up to a whopping 20 pounds in the first week alone. I saw their excitement; they were all fired up, feeling pretty strong and confident.
Then Week two came around and they all started asking me “can I train harder?” They said “I want to exercise more so I can lose weight even faster than I lost in the very first week.”
I told them to continue doing the simple routine of walking and body weight exercises (which you can get them here), but a few of them pushed a little harder anyways. That’s the American way, right? If we aren’t making enough money, we work harder. If we are not getting what we want, we try harder, fight harder. That’s just the way we are all wired.
The third week rolled around and the men were still losing weight at a rapid pace, but it was less than the first couple weeks. Even the ones who were trying to exercise more than I had told them had slowed down.
I tried warning them about this exercise myth!
Fact: If you have the mindset that more exercise is going to help you lose weight faster, you are just going to end up wasting your time. Adding more exercise in an attempt to lose weight faster has a steeply diminishing return, especially if you cannot sustain your routine every day because you are sore or injured.
Strategy: do a sustainable exercise routine– every day.
As I told the RECON men from the very first day of their challenge, it’s about what you do every day, not how hard you do it. I’m a sucker for routine, it makes things happen without working hard. You will lose more fat doing something simple every day than you would by killing yourself in the gym once a week.
Myth 3: It’s OK to Eat Crappy Food
We have been taught that you can eat crappy food and still lose weight. This exercise myth is pretty much the reason why everyone is obsessed with calories.
Ask nearly any woman how many calories are in a Snickers bar and she can probably tell you how many minutes she would need to jog on a treadmill in order to “cancel out” those crappy calories. That’s no way to live, like a hamster on a treadmill working for every calorie.
Fact: We had a guy named Paul send us some pictures of himself recently. He was 252 pounds to start and had lost 70 pounds. Check out his shocking pictures! →
Paul said this: “the only time I didn’t eat Personal Trainer Food was when I go to the Hooters on Monday nights. It’s all you can eat wings on Mondays, and I eat about 20-30 unbreaded wings at a time, dipped in sauces with zero carbs and sugars.”
Strategy: eat to lose fat, exercise for fitness.
Healthy eating is 90% of the weight loss battle. So you must focus on eating the right foods to lose fat. When you follow my Weight Loss Guidelines and eat meats, eggs, veggies and nuts, you don’t have to count calories or exercise off what you have eaten to lose fat. On the flip side, do not cheat while on your program. You simply cannot exercise off cheat foods.
Exercise is only 10% of the battle to lose weight. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t important to your lifestyle. Exercise is essential to increasing your overall health, strength, and fitness level. So do it every day!
Myth 4: Eat Less, Exercise More
This exercise myth says that if you starve yourself and do insane workouts at the same time that you will lose weight.
Well, in a way this myth is true, but only if you like yo-yo dieting. The problem with this is that you will hear it everywhere– because it is a marketing gimmick. This refrain sells anything from “flab-toning” exercise equipment to diet pills to 100-calorie packs of candy. The truth is, you will never get long term results trying to lose fat this way.
Fact: The moment you stop killing yourself to lose a few pounds, you know darned well that you will gain weight back even faster than you lost it. This myth can also be dangerous to your health as you deplete your body’s resources.
Strategy: feed your body the right foods.
If you are serious about losing weight, you need to understand that it will take time. Starving yourself isn’t going to speed up weight loss.
For long term results, choose the right foods that cannot be converted directly for body fat. Those are foods like healthy meats, eggs, non-starchy veggies, nuts, and cheeses. The weight will come off faster than you think, without starvation.
Myth 5: You Can Sweat It Out
When I was in college, the big fad was to wear plastic suits and sweat your fat out. People even wore trash bags to the gym!
Fact: What most people don’t realize is that muscle is actually made up of a lot of water. Sweating more will help you lose scale weight, but it doesn’t burn fat.
Is wearing a trash bag a fashion statement you would like to make each day? I doubt it. You want something that isn’t as silly or futile. When you get distracted by these different weight loss myths and start wearing trash bags, you have lost focus on the big picture.
Strategy: stay hydrated to burn fat.
Whether you wear a garbage bag or not, staying well-hydrated is a smart thing to do to help you lose fat. Sure, you should break into at least a light sweat when you exercise, but the more you sweat, the more water you must drink.
Your body will burn fat when it needs to create fuel for you. Water is necessary for that to happen. When you dehydrate yourself, you weaken your body’s ability to burn fat effectively.
Your Ultimate Strategy for Success
Here’s the thing, the number one cause of obesity and frustration with weight loss is confusion. We are confused because we tried this exercise myth and that exercise myth and failed. We heard 100 different things abut each exercise myth that have us doubting ourselves. And, after wasting our time on each useless exercise myth it seems like it only gets harder.
…so we give up.
Ultimately, you MUST understand that what you eat is making the biggest difference between success and failure. Eating the right foods will peel the fat off your abs, revealing a lean physique. As far as exercise goes, walking every day will give you a lean, toned physique. If you want to add a little more, adding a simple body weight routine in will put you in the top 10% fitness level.
You have got to look at this journey as a way to re-train your mind with what you can eat and how to exercise. Keep the big picture in mind and you will lose fat.
P.S. KENS5 Eyewitness News interviewed Officer Torres, one of my RECON study participants (mentioned above). He lost 19 pounds in four weeks after he learned how eating the right foods (not exercise myths) is key to weight loss success. See it for yourself!
If you have questions about this article or an exercise myth, we’d be happy to help! Drop a comment below and we’ll follow up with you.
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Mike Starks, CEO Personal Trainer Food