“I’m going to get back in shape this year!” How many times have you made this New Year’s resolution? More than once?
If this rings true for you, know that you’re not alone. Besides, there are many concrete things you can do to reach (and maintain) your fitness goals. Sometimes it’s just a matter of changing your approach and debunking certain myths that abound. Here are 10 myths and facts to help you adopt a better fitness strategy, now and for years to come!
To get back in shape, it’s best to burn off all the calories you consumed over the holidays as fast as possible
Too many people make the mistake of trying to get back in shape as quickly as possible instead of maintaining their health on a daily basis. In other words, they focus on intensity and instant results when they should be aiming for consistency. What if you adopted a new approach?
Best fitness practices:
- Beware of “miracle” fitness solutions. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Avoid deadlines. It’s better to opt for consistent, sustained effort every day. This way, you’ll avoid burning out and can go at your own pace and keep it up all year long.
In other words, rather than trying to burn off the calories you consumed over the holidays as quickly as possible, aim to maintain your healthy lifestyle habits for as long as possible—hopefully for the rest of your life!
To get back in shape, the most important step is to start small, but start today
When you’re looking to get back in shape, it can be hard to know where to start. As a result, you may be tempted to change all your habits at once. But the more balls you try to juggle, the more likely you are to let them all fall to the ground, which can be a huge blow to your confidence and motivation.
To stay the course and make permanent changes, make a list of small actions you can gradually integrate into your day-to-day life.
Examples of actions that can make a difference:
- Take an active 10-minute break every hour.
- Stand on the subway or during meetings.
- Take a walk outside on your lunch break.
- Jog, walk, or ride your bike instead of driving whenever possible.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day! The same can be said for getting back in shape. Try to limit yourself to one new action per week. And, most importantly, make sure you’ve successfully integrated this new action into your daily life before you add another one. This is the best way to combat a sedentary lifestyle!
Getting back in shape requires long-term external motivators
One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to get back in shape is doing it for the wrong reasons. Too often, we get in shape for external reasons or due to external pressures, such as social status or what other people think of us. In addition, these goals are often spread out over a long period of time (e.g., lose 25 pounds in six months). The problem with this kind of goal is that it’s intangible and overly focused on the long term.
To encourage you to get back in shape, focus instead on intrinsic, daily motivators that make you feel good. This approach will make it easier to sustain your motivation to get back in shape.
Focus on quick wins
Before you take on yet another fitness program, take the time to ask yourself why you’re doing it by making a list of quick wins to motivate you every day.
Start by asking yourself how you feel in the following circumstances:
- After going for a walk/jog outside
- After eating a healthy meal
- After getting a good night’s sleep or focusing on your breathing for a few minutes
Do you feel proud? Energized? Zen? In a good mood? These are the kinds of concrete, motivational feelings that are nice to have on a daily basis and that’ll make your fitness journey more meaningful.
A good example of intrinsic, short-term motivation
“I take a walk every day at lunch because it gives me the energy I need to finish the day on a positive note.”
Doing a cleanse or a fast is a good way to lose weight and detox your body
These kinds of myths are partly to blame for the yo-yo dieting cycle that some people fall into, which makes it very difficult to maintain a healthy weight. Stop comparing your body to a grimy old machine that needs to be cleaned!
Not only does your body know how to clean itself, but the caloric restriction you achieve by fasting or doing a cleanse can make it harder to maintain your weight over the long term. That’s because starvation can increase your cortisol levels (the stress hormone), causing you to gain more belly fat.
Did you know?
Fasting can also cause other health issues such as dizziness, extreme fatigue, and trouble concentrating.
Start slowly but surely
Rather than depriving yourself, take the following approach:
- Aim for a slow, gradual weight loss of no more than 1 to 2 pounds (500 g to 1 kg) each week.
- Eat minimally or non-processed foods.
- Always listen to your hunger and fullness cues.
- Find a physical activity that you enjoy.
To get back in shape, you need to focus on cardio, not strength training
We often hear that cardio is more effective than strength training for weight loss and fitness. After all, isn’t running on a treadmill the best way to expend energy and burn calories? Not necessarily!
The main thing is to move and eat well
While cardio is important for weight loss and fitness, you might be surprised to learn that strength training also plays a key role. The more muscle you have, the more calories your metabolism burns on a daily basis. And the more you move, the hungrier you’ll be, which helps balance the number of calories you take in versus the number of calories you burn.
It’s not rocket science. The best weight loss strategy involves exercising and watching what you eat.
To get back in shape and maintain a healthy weight, avoid snaking between meals
FALSE, BUT . . .
It depends on your habits! Obviously, wolfing down a big bag of chips while watching TV won’t do you any favours, but a healthy snack can tide you over until your next meal or help optimize your workout results.
The key is to listen to your hunger cues and combine protein with complex carbohydrates to maintain your energy levels.
Here are some healthy snack ideas:
- Greek yogurt with fruit
- Hummus and veggie sticks
- Low-fat cheese and whole-grain crackers
Cutting carbs (bread, pasta, potatoes) is a good strategy that will help get you back in shape
FALSE, BUT . . .
Not all starches are created equal! It’s never a good idea to completely eliminate a food group that you enjoy.
The key is to make your food healthier by choosing whole-grain products or keeping the peels on root vegetables. If cooked with a minimal amount of fat, these types of starches can be very filling and energizing because they contain both carbohydrates and dietary fibre. Conversely, refined baked goods raise blood sugar levels quickly and are less effective at satisfying hunger, which can make it harder to manage your weight.
No matter which carb you prefer, make sure your plate contains . . .
- Mainly vegetables
- A source of protein (about the size of your palm)
- Whole grains or minimally processed root vegetables, such as baked sweet potatoes (about a quarter of your plate).
You need to take supplements in order to reach your fitness goals
Before you go out and buy a bunch of protein supplements, think about your fitness goals. These supplements may work for you if you want to gain muscle mass, but they can be totally useless, even dangerous, if you’re just looking to get back in shape or lose weight. In this case, eating three balanced, high-protein meals a day is enough. Talk to a healthcare professional before you take any supplements.
Need more information?
See our article on the three most common supplements used by athletes.
To achieve your fitness and weight loss goals, you need to watch what you eat
TRUE, BUT . . .
What you drink during the day also plays an important role when it comes to getting back in shape. In fact, the liquids you ingest can quickly add to your daily calorie count, without necessarily quenching your thirst!
Reach for these beverages
- Natural or flavoured water
- Herbal tea
- Black coffee
. . . and skip these
- Soft drinks
- Fruit juices (even if they’re organic or cold-pressed)
Fitness is all about effort and consistency
If there’s one thing to take away from this article, it’s that a successful fitness program requires work, perseverance, and consistency. By setting gradual, realistic goals you can reach each day, the hill you’re looking to climb will suddenly seem much less steep!
Your Brunet-affiliated owner-pharmacist is always available to help you achieve your fitness goals.
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