Don’t you just hate condescending posts that outline everything you/other people are doing wrong? Me too. So before I write one, let it be known that I once believed all of the following fitness-related nonsense.
1. Strength training is useless for weight loss
At the beginning of my health and fitness journey, I sincerely believed weight lifting was only for women who wanted to “bulk up.” Since I only wanted to lose weight, my master plan was to do up to an hour of steady state cardio every day until I reached my goal weight. Then I would “tone” my muscles with some 2 pound dumbbells. As for lifting heavy weights? It never even occurred to me. Heaven forbid I should ever get under an Olympic bar and risk turning into a hulking shemale!
Mercifully, I have a close friend who is a personal trainer and athlete who set me on the right path early on. When I told her what I’d been doing and that I hadn’t seen any results, she told me straight up that my plan was useless and I would never see any results by hopping on an elliptical trainer every day.
Instead, she recommended doing at least two days of strength training per week, using heavy weights, and interval training for my cardio. I took her advice and within a couple of weeks, finally started to see progress.
The takeaway: sometimes you’re going to be wrong about stuff. This doesn’t make you an idiot, it just makes you misinformed. What does make you an idiot is if you continue to stick to a plan that clearly isn’t working.
2. You can spot reduce fat
The only exception to my “no strength training” rule was crunches. Oh, how I loved crunches. I really thought if I did enough of them, I could magically melt away all the fat sitting on top of my abs. I was also a big fan of those leg raise exercises that are supposed to shrink your muffin top.
I think it was the same friend who cured me of that ridiculous notion. She told me I’d never see my abs unless I lost fat and I would only lose fat through a combination of proper diet, cardio and strength training.
These days, I rarely do crunches unless they are part of an exercise class. And let me tell you, my stomach looks much better today than it did back when I was crunching myself silly.
3. If you exercise, you can eat whatever you want
This is what my high school self believed. I’d go to the gym for an hour and then polish of a large bag of chips later because I felt like I had earned it. As an adult, I eventually woke up to the fact that you need to watch your diet too but I never really understood the importance of diet until I started counting calories and logging my food almost two years ago.
The fact of the matter is, diet is the single most important thing when it comes to getting physical results. You can train hard but unless you are eating in a way that supports your goals, you’re just wasting your time. Even eating healthy isn’t enough – if you eat too much, even of the good stuff, you won’t lose weight. This was hard for me to accept (it’s no secret that I love to eat) but once I did and adjusted my eating habits accordingly, weight loss took place.
4. Exercise is boring… just suck it up and deal with it
Until I discovered group fitness classes, I really thought exercise was just something one had to endure if one wanted a good body. During the odd weeks where I’d randomly decide to commit to getting fit, I’d hop on the treadmill or elliptical for half an hour each day and tell myself to just suck it up – it’s only half an hour, afterall.
After a few weeks, I would inevitably stop going to the gym and then feel bad about myself for being a quitter. After a few months of being sedentary, I’d decide to get back to the gym and the whole cycle started again.
Then I discovered group exercise and everything changed. My one hour fitness classes just flew by and I found myself kinda enjoying my workouts. The more my fitness improved, the more fun I had in my classes and I eventually started to love how exercise felt.
I’ve now been going to the gym 5-6 days a week for almost two years straight. Am I more disciplined than I used to be? I don’t think so. I’ve just found something that works for me. If my only workout options were stationary cardio machines, I honestly think I would stop going.
5. You need a gym buddy to keep you on track
This is more subjective and might not necessarily apply to everyone. But for me, becoming self-motivated to go to the gym was the single most important factor to becoming a regular exerciser. A few times in the past, I joined a gym or signed up for a class with a friend and we would motivate each other to workout… at least for a few weeks. Then the inevitable would happen. My friend would cancel our gym date so I would decide not to go. One missed workout turned into several and next thing I knew, my gym membership was collecting dust in a drawer.
I’m not saying gym buddies are a bad thing. A couple of my girlfriends recently joined GoodLife and I’ve had fun working out with them. But, they have also bailed on our schedueld gym sessions more times than I can even count and if I wasn’t as self-motivated as I am, their missed workouts would have been my missed workouts too. Luckily, I can get my butt to the gym without anyone encouraging me (or shaming me) into going.
In short, gym buddies can make working out fun, but you shouldn’t rely on them for motivation.
What are some dumb things you once believed about fitness?