Sunday, February 23, 2014

Common "Healthy" Misconceptions

   When the urge hits to get healthy, by all means, follow it! But please, don't fall into these "health" traps or let these wrong ideas wiggle into your mind! Being healthy is a science and it's not always easy to understand, but have no fear, I am here! I hear everything in my profession, and here are some of the most common misconceptions I hear, and want to clear up. Anytime you decide to start a new routine, talk to a health professional for at least some guidance if you want to be the most successful.

1. Fitness magazines can't steer me wrong.
WRONG! Please, don't go to the magazine aisle and stock up on every fitness magazine you can get your hands on. While we are in that aisle, stay away from all the diet books too, especially if you are new to the health scene.The problem with fitness and health magazines is that they are rarely authored or edited or even fact checked by people who are in the health industry with PhD's and Masters degrees. These magazines are written by journalists who may or may not have any more expertise than those who write for Cosmo and Vogue. Every now and then they are an easy read, but don't believe everything you read unless it is from a peer reviewed health journal (which doesn't have pictures of models). Just today I was skimming one waiting to check out at the grocery store and I come across a page that tells people in order to speed up their workout and burn more calories that they can skip the 5-10 minutes for a cool down and stretching. This magazine then went on to claim that a thorough cool down and stretching doesn't really prevent injuries or reduce sore muscles so why do it? In my major (Exercise Science) we do a lot of research, and a lot of research has shown that a cool down DOES prevent injuries to a high enough extent that ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine-- the gold standard as far as information in the fitness world goes) recommends a cool down and stretch. Are you wasting those 5-10 minutes to cool down when you could be burning calories? I suppose, but tell me how easy it is to go for a run or do push ups when you injure yourself.
   If you want to flip through for some motivation or maybe a new recipe to try, go for it, but don't take everything they say as true. You're probably reading this blog, and thinking "why should I believe you then?" Well, not only have I been working in the fitness industry for over 3 years but I have my associates degree in Health, Wellness, and Exercise Studies and am currently working on my bachelors in Exercise Science... I have access to countless peer reviewed research articles, textbooks, and teachers at my disposal. If I'm not sure of something, I always do my fact checking before I write and post it!

2. Carbs are bad.
Carbs are NOT the enemy. Carbohydrates are a major macronutrient, and one your body needs more of than fats and protein. The brain will ONLY use glucose (which is a carb) to function, so no carbs= no glucose = no brain power. Carbs also give the rest of the body energy. All macronutrients are important, and none should be considered bad or ever be too restricted. You want to shoot for around 40- 50% of your total calories to come from carbs. If you need more information about this, you can read my blog Personalized Macronutrient Needs!

3. Low fat and 0 calorie foods are the best.
Again, nope. These foods are pumped full of chemicals so that they still have flavor, but no calories or fat. Fat is a necessary part of the diet. 0 calorie foods and drinks (diet soda) are the devil. Have you ever wondered how it's 0 calories? Well, your body cannot digest the chemicals so they can't be broken down and absorbed so you don't get any calories from the product. Nothing about that is good for your body! Want something high in fat or calories... everything in moderation! I would prefer you to drink a glass of soda than drink an entire diet soda if you're dead set on having soda. Stop putting chemicals your body can't recognize into your body; many of these are proven carcinogens (cancer causing chemicals) and contain free radicals.

4. It's too expensive to be healthy.
I understand your grocery bill might increase when you start buying more produce and healthier foods, but in the long run it's cheaper. The cost of diabetes medication is sky rocketing, health insurance is getting more costly, and doctors are pushing drugs for everything; drugs cost money. A trip through the drive through might be cheaper at first glance, but what about when you're hungry again two hours later? Eating a healthy, balanced diet helps keep you full and satisfied, and keeps your body working the way it's meant to. Check out the local farmers markets and start clipping coupons. Make sure you have a weekly meal plan to cut down on wasted food and try new recipes... I didn't want to throw away a bunch of bananas but they had become overly ripened so I found a recipe for banana oat muffins where the bananas were a substitute for the sugar- healthy and delicious!
   No one says you have to join the top gym, or even any gym, to get healthy. You can walk around your neighborhood or at a track or park close by. You can use hand weights and do body weight exercises in your own house. You can often join a gym for fairly cheap though and if you use it, it'll be worth the money you spend. Many insurance companies will reimburse your gym membership also, it's worth looking into! 

5. I don't need to strength train.
Everyone needs to strength train. Women, men, young, old. By young, I mean adolescents... don't try and make your 9 year old start lifting weights. Younger children need to be active, but in a way that only uses their own body weight; you don't want to stress the growth plates and growing bones. Women, you will not bulk... if you don't believe me, read Toning vs. Bulking for all the background research and information. Strength training just twice a week will help keep your muscles and bones healthy.

6. Fat becomes muscle and muscle can become fat.
These are two completely different things. They are made of different components, and cannot morph into one another. Fat cells can be made smaller or larger, and muscle cells can atrophy or dystrophy (grow or shrink). Fat cells though cannot morph into muscle cells and vice versa. You have a set number of muscle cells that can increase or decrease in diameter. Fat cells can be created and can grow or shrink. It's still pretty controversial whether you can actually destroy fat cells or not without surgery.

I hope this helped to clear up any misconceptions you may have had. Being healthy is a lifestyle, not a fad and while it takes work, I promise you it is worth it!
Love the Burn!

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