In recent years, people have become more and more aware of the importance of diet and exercise when it comes to having a healthy and balanced lifestyle. The fact that health and fitness awareness has been raised can only be a good thing, but what about the fads and myths that surround it? How can we separate professional help and advice from Instagram trends that have no true benefits and are quite frankly a waste of time? From diet teas and excessive cardio, fitness myths can be a danger to our health - so here are five common ones you have probably heard before - and why you should ignore them.
'I need to do loads of sit ups and ab work to achieve stomach definition'
This is a common myth that so many people fall for. Abdominal definition (abs) is achieved by having a very low body fat percentage. Yes, sit ups, planks and other ab work will help to strengthen your core, which can benefit your fitness in general, but if you aren't working to get rid of excess fat on your body, then that 15-minute 'abs blaster' you're planning to do will be a little pointless. You can engage your core through more beneficial exercises such as deadlifts and squats and shouldn't dedicate an awful lot of gym time to 'ab workouts' as it just isn't necessary.
'I want to lose weight so I'm going to avoid carbs'
This is an age-old myth that sadly many people still believe. Yes, controlling your carb intake is a good tool for weight loss and getting in shape, but only if it is done properly. Cutting out carbs altogether from your diet will leave you lacking in energy and not getting the most out of your workouts. At the end of the day, food is fuel that we should use to help our bodies thrive and if we are exercising, we need all the fuel we can get. There are clever ways to control your carbs such as carb-cycling which basically means measuring how many carbs you consume against how much exercise you are doing that day (eg. reducing carb intake on a rest day) which works well for some people - but not everyone, it is just a matter of trial and error.
'You haven't Worked Hard Enough if you don't have DOM's'
Contrary to popular belief, just because you can still walk the next day, doesn't mean your leg session was an unsuccessful one. Yes, DOM's are a pleasing feeling as they remind us of what we achieved during our workout, but you can still have a successful, sweaty session and feel absolutely no pain the following day. DOM's are in no way an indication of a successful session and you shouldn't use pain to measure your success. Also, the more you work out and the more your body gets used to the pressure it is put under and the less likely you are to experience pain after every workout.
'I Have Treated myself and Now Need a Detox'
Life is all about enjoying good food and yes, we should be mindful not to have an overly sugary or high-fat diet, but bingeing on 'bad' food and then 'detoxing' is not a balanced way of living. Your body does not need a 'cleanse' or a 'detox' as your liver does this of its own accord. Social Media Influencers (particularly on Instagram) are constantly promoting the weight loss benefits of detox teas and diet pills that are both dangerous and unhealthy. The best way to 'diet' is to not see food as either good or bad and to eat nutrient dense foods 80% of the time, whilst treating yourself to whatever you fancy, the other 20%. If you do want to lose weight, tracking your calories can be helpful in making sure you are not depriving yourself but not going overboard at the same time, as long as you are consuming fewer calories than you are burning, then you will be able to successfully shed the pounds.
'I Should Avoid Heavy Weights because they will make me Bulky'
Lifting heavy weights is one of the most effective ways to burn fat and get into shape and going heavy is extremely effective for weight loss. Many people, particularly women, shy away from the weights area for fear of becoming 'big' or 'bulky' but the truth is, building muscle is extremely difficult and the 'hench' appearance you see from some athletes and competitors is extremely hard to achieve. Incorporating weight sessions into your workout routine will allow you to not only lose fat but also become more defined and most importantly, fitter and stronger.