The Secret to Fitness

People ask me for the secret of getting fit or meeting their goals.  Here it is: work hard and eat healthily.  Okay, fine.  People really want to know how.  Well, unfortunately, there isn’t one answer.  Everyone is different and I can’t give a cookie cutter answer.  I can, however, help you avoid the marketing tricks and general misconceptions out there.

Misconception #1 (and it’s the biggest one):  I need to eat a lot of protein.

Incorrect!  My professor gave us a great point of reference in this area.  A newborn infant is growing at rapid rates during the first year.  Comparatively, if it were an adult, it would be growing muscle etc like an Olympian weight lifter.  Do you know much protein a baby gets from breast milk (its primary source of food)?  6% of daily calories.  One more time…SIX PERCENT.  Stop wasting your time buying and drinking synthetic protein with the hopes of building big muscles. I do think protein intake is fine especially if you are a severely sick individual who needs the extra calories and protein as advised by a dietitian.  But for the general population, we already get so much protein from our diets.  Normally, we only need 0.8 grams of protein per KILOGRAM of weight (pounds divided by 2.2).  It’s not 1.0 g/lb of body weight.  FYI, your body stores extra protein at fat.

True “secret:”  Eat carbohydrates.  They fuel your exercises and keep you a lean, mean, exercising machine.  Remember, carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for your body.  It makes no sense cutting them out.  1 gram of protein = 4 kilocalories.  1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 kilocalories.

Misconception #2: I have to lift really heavily to build muscle

This is an extension from the last comment made above, but this is not what I mean. This one pisses me off because it’s right but people take it the wrong way.  Yes, you have to lift heavier weights as your strength builds.  But that is what is key: your strength builds.  Your body is like a house.  Build it one brick at a time.  If you haven’t worked out in your life, don’t expect to be superman tomorrow.  This is always why non-athletes who do Crossfit make me cringe.  CRINGE, I SAY!  Crossfit is EXTREME.  It’s meant for individuals who are trained to perform these difficult tasks.  Wanna know what’s not cool?  Doing an exercise improperly and bragging about it.  Wanna know what’s actually cool?  Doing an exercise properly and letting the results speak for themselves.  Start at the beginning and everyday you’ll be growing and getting stronger.  Make fitness a lifelong goal as it should be.

True “secret”: start with stabilization exercises that strengthen your core balance.  Mastering the basics will prepare you for any future strength exercise.

Misconception #3: Exercise machines are safer to use than free weights. 

Not exactly.  Unless you know how to properly calibrate those machines, you’re equally as likely to injure yourself or exercise incorrectly.  Consult a knowledgeable certified personal trainer and he/she can properly advise you!

True “secret”: I personally believe in free weights because it forces you to engage your core, form, and posture.  That will improve all aspects of your exercise routine and daily activities.  Besides, most of the meat heads in the weight room are doing it wrong anyway.  Trust me.  Don’t let their loud man grunting or slutty tank tops (guilty!) intimidate you.  Go in there and you show them who really knows how to exercise properly

Misconception #4: Running will make me lose my muscle

Sorta not true! You will lose weight in a variety of ways.  Primarily, if you eat less than what you put out.  Energy In < Energy Out.  Also, you can lose lean body mass (aka Muscle) if you are a chronic long distance runner.  This is because your body will use glucose and stored glycogen as energy sources to start.  But once your body has used up 15% of your stored glycogen (turned into glucose to push it through glycolysis to make energy), your body stops using it as a source of energy (by releasing the enzyme phosphodiesterase to stop the breakdown of glycogen).  In that case, your body will start to break down your body’s amino acids as a source of energy, unless you replenish your carbohydrate load (drink a gatorade).  That usually happens in VERY long distances like halfway through a marathon.

True “secret”:  Run, or cycle, or swim.  Short-timed and short-distanced “cardio” won’t make you lose muscle if you eat enough and refuel properly.

Misconception #5: I’m skinny so I don’t need to exercise

Listen to yourself.  Now, slap yourself in the face.  Just because your skinny doesn’t mean you’re not 45% fat in body composition.  If you lead a sedentary life, your muscles are not being used very often and most likely, you’ve gained fat and your muscles have shrunken.  Don’t go off how you look.  Go off how you feel.  If you’re feeling energized because you’re exercising everyday, then that’s something to be proud of 🙂  Keep up the hard work.  You’re getting rewarded in years of healthy living each day.

True “secret”: There’s no secret to good fitness.  Everyone knows what we have to do.  It’s just a means of actually doing it.  Stop searching for a pill or a quick fix.  It takes hard work but it is worth its weight in gold.

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