For all of the fitness and weight-loss experts on TV, online and in magazines, there are just as many fad diets and no-fail exercises guaranteed to give women the fit body they’ve always desired. The only problem with this fitness and nutrition advice is that the majority of it simply is inaccurate. If you’re trying to lose weight, look great and maintain a healthy lifestyle, ignore these five commonly believed — yet completely bogus — women’s fitness myths.
1. Carbs are Evil
Atkins, South Beach, Sonoma and the Zone are all well-known diets that have one major facet in common: carbs are evil and should be avoided at all costs. The general idea behind this anti-carb conspiracy is the notion that all complex carbohydrates are forever intertwined with sugars. Therefore, reduce your carbohydrate intake and you’ll lose weight. The idea is simple enough; it’s the execution that went awry. Completely eliminating carbs or drastically lowering your intake deprives the body of a major fuel source. You’ll end up feeling too drained and unmotivated to do much of anything, including hit the gym. What you should do instead is limit your carbohydrate intake and learn the difference between good carbs and bad carbs to maximize their nutritional benefits.
2. Crunches are All You Need for Flat Abs
Thousands of women swear by crunches and wouldn’t dream of eliminating this exercise from their abs routine. These same women are probably wondering why after thousands of crunches, they’re not seeing any results. Simply put, it’s because crunches don’t work. The most effective abdominal exercises don’t target this area at all. Combine this with the fact that proper nutrition is more crucial to reducing that unwanted belly, and there’s reason enough for every woman to eliminate the word “crunch” from her vocabulary. To truly achieve enviable abs, reduce your total body fat and introduce both strength-training and cardiovascular exercise into your weekly regimen.
3. Don’t Forget to Stretch
Watch any exercise video from the 1980s, and you’ll probably spend the first 20 to 30 minutes of the tape stretching. Unfortunately, you’ve just wasted 20 to 30 minutes of your life because there is no verifiable clinical evidence that pre-workout stretching prevents injury or improves your performance. That being said, don’t eliminate stretching from your routine completely; just decide how it works best for you. For instance, if you find that stretching for a few minutes before working out one day helps loosen your muscles, go ahead and do it. If you only need to stretch after exercising the next day, that’s fine, too. Don’t rely too heavily on stretching before exercising to prevent injury. Instead, know your limits, stop before injury occurs, and reserve the stretching for helping you feel loose and relaxed.
4. Drink Shakes to Lose Weight
Meal replacement and protein shakes are a great way to drink down some extra protein when you’re on the go; but this is about the extent of their usefulness. The truth behind the majority of these products is less than appealing. Aside from the questionable taste and consistency, protein and meal replacement shakes are filled with cheap proteins, sugars and artificial flavors and colors. They’ll satisfy you for the moment, but they don’t contain enough beneficial nutrients and bulk to keep you feeling full until the next meal. This, combined with the extra calories you’re consuming from the protein, makes these shakes an unhealthy and counterproductive meal or snack option. Instead, choose foods that are rich in whole grains and healthy proteins to keep you away from the dreaded between-meal, naughty snacks.
5. Lifting Weights Gives You She-Hulk Muscles
When many women look at their husband or boyfriend’s dumbbells, it conjures up images of ripped, tan female bodybuilders posing or lifting up a compact car. The truth is that female bodybuilders follow an extremely strict diet and exercise regimen to achieve that intense degree of muscularity. Avoiding the weight room actually deprives women of the many benefits strength training provides, including a super-charged metabolism and increased weight loss. Want to keep that weight off that you worked so diligently to lose? Add strength training and cardio to your workout regimen. Unless you’re willing to drastically increase the amount of testosterone in your body, you won’t end up looking like a mini-Arnold Schwarzenegger.
One last tip about your tried and true sports bra — it’s more important than you think. Aside from the fact that the bra keeps your breasts from bouncing, and hurting, during a workout; it actually helps keep them from sagging as well. The constant movement and bouncing your breasts suffer during high-impact workouts — such as cardio and running — strain your Cooper’s ligaments, or the connective tissue that keeps your breasts perky and firm. Wear a sports bra every time you exercise and replace them every six months to one year to ensure your breasts remain properly supported.
This post was written and contributed by Jackson Morrows. Jackson has been a professional athletic trainer for over 10 years. His interest in fitness and health began when he was asked by a friend “Are there diet pills with ephedra?” He then began his search for the best diet pills and went much further into the athletic direction of the subject.