Category Archives: Myths

Myth #10 – Toning and Sculpting

Words and images promoting toning and sculpting the body through exercise seem to be  everywhere we turn.   The wonders of technology provide us with images of people going from flabby to firm arms and legs and from muffin-top to muscular core.  The technology makes it look so easy… and possible.

Unfortunately these tout the wonders of computer science rather than movement science.  The body does not burn more fat in an area when we exercise that area.  So sit ups and triceps exercise will not but fat in these “problem areas”.  We just do not have as much control over how exercise makes our body appear as the popular images lead us to believe.   Fortunately there are real benefits of exercise and focusing on them keeps us motivated with real results!

What does work?

  1. A healthy attitude of self  kindness for the body you do have!  Research consistently shows that people who are kind and compassionate to themselves when making healthy changes are much more likely to stick to those changes than those who are critical of themselves.
  2. Let go of the idea that you can spot reduce (exercise a part of the body to lose more fat there).  It is just not science based!   As an example, go back to our discussion of the true job of core exercises as a guide for true exercise in this area of the body.  When you see ads with images of changed bodies, know the images have most likely been altered to get your attention.  Its just not reality based.
  3. Be consistent with a balance between cardiovascular exercise and strength training in the ways we have

    adventure-1834841__480

    been discussing here on Keep Moving Weekly.

  4. Set function goals rather than “form” goals.  We have much more control over how our body functions than how it looks.  What do you want to be easier?  Golf? Playing with children? Climbing stairs? Travel? Housecleaning? Walking?  Develop your exercise plan based on how you want to function better.  Based on the reality of how the body works, these goals lead to lasting motivation.
  5. Work within your genetics.   If your goal is to look better, instead of trying to “get a body” that looks like someone else,  be the best you that you can be.
  6. Celebrate You! Keep yourself off the downward spiral of comparison, competition and self-criticism.  Set your own goals based on what you want and what is really possible and celebrate each day what you accomplished to get there.

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

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by | May 3, 2017 · 6:06 pm

Myth #9: “It will be easier when…”

crocus-292306__480If you ever doubt humans are optimistic, talk to a New Englander in spring!   As the snow melts, so does the weight of winter on our motivation to move.  We feel the hope of longer days and walking outside without fear of slipping on ice.  Its wonderful!!!

Now, I don’t want to be a buzz kill.  I believe in optimism and do not want to squash any of it . However, I know from experience, a bit of realism this time of year can help us stay optimistic all year long.

OK… Brace your self – here comes the reality… Winter will return.  Breathe…. it will be OK!  Lets use this optimistic energy to ready ourselves now for next winter.  As they say “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

Chose your favorite way to take notes and  jot down your thoughts:

  • How does my body feels right now at the end of winter? 
  • How do I want it to feel?
  • What was my best experience with exercising during the winter months?
  • What did I learn from that experience I can use now?
  • What are the challenges to exercising in the winter?
  • What do I want to try next winter based upon what I know about my successes and challenges? 

Take your plan and put it where you will see it in October of this year.  Now you can rest easy knowing winter may be a bit easier with a plan in place.

Keep in mind, this optimism also shows up when we are setting out on a weight loss bicycle-788733__480plan.  The idea that “when I lose weight things will be easier”, can cause us to put off dealing with the true challenges to exercising regularly.  Take an honest look here as well.  What challenges will not go away not matter how much you weight?  What can you do to build your confidence in handling them now rather than hoping they will take care of themselves when you are at your goal weight.

Ok, enough realism! Lets get back to that Spring optimism!

Keep Moving, Be Well,
Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

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by | April 4, 2017 · 4:08 pm

Myth #8: The Fitness “Expert”

Fitness expert

When you seek a professional to give you advice or provide a service, whether it is for electrical wiring in your home or getting a haircut, what do you look for? Of course you look to a source you can trust – a professional with the required certification, training, and experience.  It is important to know that the field of fitness has no requirements for professionals. Anyone can call themselves a fitness expert. Our source for advice about how to move and be well is sadly under-regulated and as a result, full of myths and mindsets that are not science-based. This means that right now, you, as a fitness consumer, need to stay educated or your exercise advice may lead you in the opposite direction of the motivation and fitness you are seeking.

Next time you listen to advice about exercise on TV or the internet, notice why they call themselves an “expert.”  Are they highlighting that they  a) have a personal success story,  b) were successful as an athlete, or c) trained someone famous? These are all red flags! Even if they are certified, know that there are no requirements for certification programs and no one is ensuring that person’s certification is up to date. Our professional organizations for degrees and certified exercise professionals are working on this, but it is a very slow process!

Currently, there are two sites that provide helpful information about fitness professionals for consumers. Use these sites to find a qualified professional who holds a certification that is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). This means the certification exam has met set standards for the exercise professional’s role as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The United States Registry of Exercise Professionals maintains a list of professionals with any accredited certification. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) is the “gold standard” for certifying exercise professionals. The ACSM continuously clarifies the various levels of training for exercise professionals,  defining their role and scope of practice clearly. This makes it easier to find a professional who has the right level of training for you, whether you are without health concerns and looking for a qualified personal trainer or have a health concern and need a clinical exercise professional to safely guide you with exercise. Check the ACSM ProFinder to find professionals with this level of certification and training in your area.

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The myth here is that just because someone looks fit they know about how to help you get fit too.   Most important is to trust your instincts.   If the advice you are receiving is not leading to feeling better right away, keep searching for the right professional for you.  Remember, you don’t need to suffer now to feel good later. If exercise is causing increased pain, speak up.  If the professional you are working with tells you the pain is necessary to lose weight,  walk away from it and find a new approach.   My hope is that some day, this will be easier for you as a consumer. Until then, let’s not let the confusion get in the way of exercising consistently and enjoying movement.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

 

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by | March 28, 2017 · 4:10 pm

Myth #7: Sweat

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Two years ago I wrote a blog Know Sweat about the myth that one needs to sweat to “get a good workout”.  Today I was reading a research article and the subjects were instructed to exercise “to a point that worked up a sweat”(sigh!).    Because I still hear many people using sweat as a measure of the quality of their exercise, its time to re-visit this myth.

Facts:

  • Sweat does not mean you are burning extra calories or melting away fat!
  • The body needs water to function well.
    • over-sweating limits the body’s ability to function
  • Sweating depends on:
    • how you are dressed
    • the temperature of the air
    • amount of air movement (outside on a windy day vs. in a room with no fans)
    • the humidity (sweat does not evaporate as well so you feel the sweat more)
    • your genetics
    • your hydration level
    •  certain medications can make you sweat, like SSRIs (antidepressants).

Sweating is not a reliable way to monitor your exercise intensity nor the quality of a workout.

If you are someone who tends to sweat a lot, be sure to stay hydrated so your body can function well.

If you do not sweat much, don’t sweat it!

Check out the blog on sweating and the blog on cardiovascular exercise for more information about staying hydrated and the reliable ways to tell if you are really getting a “good” workout.

Keep Moving, Be Well,

Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

Leave a comment

by | March 22, 2017 · 6:42 pm

Myth #6: Myths of Strength Training

Weight loss can be up to 30% muscle loss!  Muscle makes up a big portion of our metabolism level so metabolism can take a big drop when we lose weight.    Strength training counteracts this metabolism lowering effect of weight loss.  However, there are several myths that get in the way of making strength training part of a weight loss plan.   Here are the reasons I hear most often:

I don’t need to do strength training, I get enough in everyday life:  Moving in daily life is thCAY06ENZimportant for health but is probably not enough to counteract the muscle loss with dieting.  Muscles are made up of many muscle fibers.  The muscle fibers we use, add to our metabolism. The ones we don’t use, go into a hibernation and don’t add much to metabolism.   Most daily movements don’t fatigue muscles fully, leaving some muscle fibers still “asleep”.  Strength training helps wake up muscle fibers and keeps them awake, burning more calories for the next 24-48 hours!

I don’t have time  for strength training:   Doing just one set of basic strength training exercises, working the muscles to fatigue, 2-3 times a week has been shown to be effective.  When you remove all the myth based exercises that just waste time, it really takes about 2-3 sessions a week of about 15-30 minutes.

dumbbell-940375__480I don’t have equipment/gym membership: Dumbbells are one of the best investments in fitness equipment.  They last a long time and they are all you need for a complete strength training program.   Check out yard sales and thrift shops for low cost options.  Want a free option? Soup cans or detergent bottles filled with water are great substitutes! 

I have back pain:    Strength training, done in a way that teaches the core muscles to protect the back during movements of daily life, can decrease back pain.  The key is starting light, listening to your body and paying close attention to using proper form before increasing the amount you are lifting.

I just want to work ____ part of my body:  When we work on “target areas” we are doing a program based on the myth of that we can burn more fat in certain areas of the body by exercising that part. (AKA “spot reducing).   Avoid wasting time on this myth based approach to exercise.  Instead focus on using all of your muscles so metabolism increases and helps your body burn fat all over.

I am concerned I will get hurt:  One surefire way to get injured with exercise is to do too much, too soon.  Listen to your body.  Be smart when adding a new exercise or increasing the resistance.  Exercise is very safe when we work with our body, rather than trying to push the limits to fast.

I want to lose weight first and then build muscle:  It is much easier to maintain muscle than regain it after it is lost.  Plus, losing muscle means lower metabolism putting weight loss success at risk.

I don’t want to bulk up: It is nearly impossible to build a lot of build muscle while losing weight.  It also takes more time and energy than most of us have to devote to exercise in order to “bulk up”.  If you have the genetics to tend to “bulk up” with strength training, keep the sets and repetitions moderate (1-2 sets of 8-12 repetitions) still working to muscle fatigue.

I don’t want to gain weight:  Muscle tissues is more dense than fat, so the myth that is scale-1987770__480weighs more has some truth.  BUT it burns more calories.   Studies show in a good quality three month strength training program participants gained only about three pounds of muscle, but that did not show up on the scale because they lost fat at the same time.

I don’t want to be in more pain:  It is a myth that muscle soreness is needed to build muscle strength. Strength training should not leave you in pain.   If you have arthritis pain, use a slow gradual progression but don’t avoid strength training.  It has been shown to reduce arthritis pain.

Keep Strength Training and Be Well,

Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

 

 

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by | March 15, 2017 · 5:14 pm

Myth #5: Core Strength

crunchIf I had a dime for every crunch I did in my lifetime ,  I would have that dream home in the Caribbean by now!  Doing abdominal exercises in various forms, such as crunches, oblique crunches, sit ups, reverse crunches,  V-sits, and planks are a staple in most routines.  When I was teaching aerobics years ago, if I skipped the abs portion, I would have been run out of the gym by 30 people in leg warmers and “big hair” (OK, it was the 80’s!).  However, this is often still the case (minus the “big hair”).  It is time for this fitness myth to catch up with the science.

The trunk  contains some pretty important parts of the body –  the organs, spinal cord, spine, heart, lungs.  The purpose of the core muscle group is to stabilize and protect this area of the body during movements of daily life.

core-musclesWhen we are “working” the core, we often mean we want to reduce the size of the trunk area – AKA spot reduce fat in the abdomen.  Spot reducing is a myth (period).  Yet,  take a look most popular core programs and you will see the myth of spot reducing  alive and  well! (even if it is just implied).   We need to be very savvy fitness consumers to recognize myth based marketing when we see it.  The reality is “working” the core does not really “slim” the core!

What does it mean to strengthen the core?  We can plank longer, do more crunches or sit ups, lift more weight with our core muscles?  While this would be a measure of core strength, the real question is, does it lead to better function of the core in daily life?  Does a strong core mean these muscles can do their job to hold the spine in alignment and reduce daily wear and tear, minimize the risk of back pain, enable us to do daily tasks with ease?

coreRemember the principle of specificity of exercise?  If we want the core muscles to do their job, we need to learn to consciously activate these muscles with our brain during motions of daily life. Exercises done lying down do not mimic daily life and relies on gravity instead of conscious control from the brain to activate the core muscles.

What we want is core control.  This means you can consciously activate your  core muscles to hold your spine in alignment when lifting a heavy object, reaching overhead, twisting to reach an object, etc.  Here is how:

  • First, learn what alignment is for you.  When the spine is out of alignment, the core muscles are not “lined up” to work their best and this increases wear and tear on the back.
  • Notice when you are pulled out of alignment and practice using the brain to activate core muscles for that movement.
  • During ALL strength training exercises, incorporate core bracing with proper alignment, without holding your breath.
  • Practice turning off these muscles when you don’t need them. (ie: during cardio exercise).   Often we are taught to “hold in the core muscle” when we really do not need them.  Relax those core muscles in between activities so they can recharged for when you do need them

Admittedly, this will require a mindset shift away from the hope of spot reducing the abdomen and the idea that traditional core exercises will improve function in daily life.  The payoff is real “results” from an exercise plan based on the reality of movement science rather than long-standing fitness myths.

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

 

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by | February 13, 2017 · 3:57 pm

Myth #4: Fitness Challenges

 

Squat challenge

Dream Arms Challenge

14 Day Toned Arms Challenge

30 day Butt and Gut Challenge

Fun Fitness Challenge

Burpies Challenge

These are just a few that came up in an internet search for “fitness challenges”.  There are several myths wrapped up in one here:

  1. I need rigid structure to be motivated 
  2. I will have “dream arms” (or other body part) from doing more of the “right” exercises
  3. Someone else knows what is best for my body
  4. I just need a jump-start and THEN I will be motivated

Lets take these one at a time:

  1. I need the structure of a program to stay motivated:  Research indicates true lasting motivation comes from the inside.  When we rely on external sources, such as a program, a trainer, and exercise partner,  a challenge, it does not last.   Internal motivation is when we connect what we are doing with why we are doing it.  Exercising not to lose weight but because of what you want from weight loss – to be able to play with kids, feel more comfortable and confident in your body, to travel and enjoy social activities, etc.  Structure, boundaries and habits are only motivating when they are keeping you on the road to your own personal definition of success.
  2. I need an exercise to work this part of my body.  Spot reducing is a myth.  Exercising to “work” a certain part of the body is exercise based on this myth that is widely promoted in the media.   This is a big red flag for most fitness challenges – the promise of slimming or sculpting a certain area of the body.  Lets face it, dream arms, or any other body part is based mainly on the photo-shopped images we see in the media.    Every image we see is touched up to perfection.  Very few people actually look like that, and if they do it is a combination of great genetics and a lot, (a lot) of time and effort.  Most of all, any changes are temporary, disappearing once the program is done.
  3. What is the right program for me? The fact is that what your body tells you when you are exercising is your best guide.  The right exercise for you is the one that provides a comfortable challenge for the body systems (ie: cardiovascular system, the muscle-skeletal system, the nervous system)  and leaves you feeling better, mentally and physically, than before exercise.  If your goal is to lose weight in order to feel better, and exercise leaves you too sore the next day to enjoy life, you just missed another day to feel good.
  4. When I see “results” I will be motivated to keep going.  What are the results we are looking for?  Weight Loss?  Sculpted arms? Lost inches?  As we discussed in number 1, these are external goals and they don’t last.  Instead ask yourself why do you want to lose weight, have sculpted arms, or less inches?  So you can feel confident, have energy, feel good about your self?   Those are your internal results.  Now, exercise so you feel more confident, have more energy, feel good about yourself today and every day.  That is what provides the true motivation to keep going.

If you are looking for lasting motivation, skip the fitness challenges and go for the real challenge in fitness for well-being.. Learning to trust your body.  Practicing being kind to yourself.  Then you will be much more likely to want to take the best possible care of you every day.  You will discover how to move so you feel better today and every day going forward!

Keep Moving, Be Well

Janet

Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician

Leave a comment

by | February 7, 2017 · 7:30 pm