To help you weave through the many myths and misconceptions about fitness and health, Bowflex Fitness Advisor Tom Holland shares his insight and expertise to reveal the truth about some of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of exercise and diet.
"I have to spend at least one hour in the gym to see results."
Holland feels that this is one of the most misunderstood aspects of exercise. “This myth actually plays into the number one reason people cite for not exercising, namely lack of time,” he said. “There is now significant research indicating that smaller bouts of exercise done throughout the day can yield big results.” He also explained that even breaking 30 minutes of activity into three separate 10-minute sessions throughout the day can produce the same effect. “Even one- to two-minute, short bursts of exercise have significant value over time,” he added.
"I’m exercising, so I can eat whatever I want."
“Research has shown that combining healthy eating and diet is the ‘secret’ to losing weight and keeping it off long term,” Holland said. “Burning a few hundred calories through exercise and reducing caloric intake by a few hundred each day will lead to one to two pounds of weight lost per week—a realistic and sustainable goal.”
"If I eat organic or gluten-free, I’ll lose weight."
“Many food companies have made making healthy food choices increasingly difficult over the past few decades with increasingly bold, and often confusing, marketing tactics,” Holland explained. “Just because a product is advertised as healthy does not necessarily mean it is.” He suggests that you always read labels carefully and choose foods that have the least number of ingredients. Also, aim to buy products made with ingredients that you recognize. “Look for total calories, and try to choose foods that are the least processed and in their most natural state,” he said.
"Fitness shakes are only for bulking up."
Your nutritional needs ultimately depend on your goals, but Holland says that all types of exercisers can benefit from protein shakes. “Protein shakes can offer a range of benefits, such as providing a pre-workout energy boost, serving as a meal replacement, or aiding in post-workout recovery,” he said. “They also help activate metabolism, build muscle and refuel the body.” He recommends choosing a shake that offers plenty of nutrients without going overboard on calories and sugar. He pointed out the line of shakes by Bowflex Body™ as an example of a good choice. “You can customize your shake to fit your individual needs, be it to aid in weight loss or to help build muscle,” he explained.
"I should do cardio on an empty stomach to burn fat."
Research has shown that fat burn is consistent whether you eat before or after a workout. To make the most of your sessions at the gym, Holland recommends fueling up with some healthy foods beforehand. “To give you the energy for a great exercise session, pre-workout meals should consist of a few hundred calories of quality carbohydrates and protein, such as whole wheat toast and peanut butter, or yogurt with granola,” he said.
"I can get great abs with lots of crunches."
Holland debunks this myth in plain and simple terms: “You cannot ‘spot-reduce’ and ‘tell’ your body where to get rid of fat stores by doing exercises that target that region.” He explained that yes, crunches will help to strengthen your abdominal muscles, but ab exercises alone will not result in belly fat reduction. “In order to flatten your stomach, you need to decrease your overall body fat percentage along with the fat layer,” Holland said. “This comes from a combination of healthy eating and doing regular cardiovascular exercise.”
"I can’t reach my goals without a personal trainer."
Sure, trainers can be helpful and motivating, but with so many different resources available these days (many of which are free online), it’s definitely possible to achieve your fitness goals without one. Holland offers a few tips for beginners who are just getting started, “Start slowly and ease into [a] new fitness program. Walking is a great way to begin. It’s a low-impact form of exercise that will burn calories while gradually building up cardiorespiratory endurance.” He also recommends books and home exercise DVDs to learn what exercises to do and how to do them correctly. “There is also an incredible amount of free fitness content available on the Internet,” he said. “Just make sure to get your information from a reputable site, such as Bowflex Insider.”
"Exercise is more important than diet."
When it comes to achieving true health and fitness success, Holland stressed the importance of incorporating both exercise and diet into your daily routine. One isn’t necessarily more important than the other. It’s important to create a balance that includes both. “Trying to achieve weight loss through either diet or exercise alone is extremely difficult, and it’s also one of the main barriers to achieving your health and fitness goals,” Holland said.