Exercise myths addressed

Published 2:57 am Monday, May 9, 2005

By Staff
Janet Peterman-Personal trainer
With the summer season soon upon us, the thought of trying on swim suits can be overwhelming, and for most of us downright depressing. So, what's a person supposed to do? Low-fat, carb-free, high-fiber? Diets don't work. I think we can all agree on that. But what does work and for how long?
These are some common-held notions about weight management that can stop you in your tracks before you've even begun to try to lose weight-if you believe them. Many of these ideas are myths.
It's important to know which are the truths and which are the myths of weight loss and maintenance so that you don't feel trapped at an unhealthy and undesirable weight by false beliefs.
Myth 1: No matter how hard I try, I can't lose weight. I must have a sluggish metabolism.
Some people do have metabolic abnormalities, which can be confirmed by a physician. These abnormalities can result in a need for medical care. However, for all but a few, a faulty metabolism is not the cause of being overweight. Consuming too many calories and not spending enough of them on physical activity are the main cause of being overweight. Energy in is greater than energy out.
Myth 2: Once I've lost weight, the only way to keep it off is to eat like a bird.
Once you start maintenance, you have to increase your caloric intake until the calories in equal the calories out. In addition, if you also increase the number of calories you burn by increasing exercise, then you have to eat even more in order to maintain your weight.
Myth 3: If the weight starts coming back, I'm almost sure to gain it all back.
Many people who keep off the pounds they've lost have established a weight-gain alarm that signals them to go back to doing what they did when they were losing weight. For some, that alarm is three pounds. For others, that is five pounds. If you take the habit of nipping weight gain in the bud by getting back to your program and being physically active on a regular basis, it's unlikely that you'll regain all the weight lost.
Myth 4: And speaking of exercise, doesn't muscle weight more than fat? So why should I lift weights to lose weight?
Technically, no because a pound weights a pound no matter what. However, a pound of muscle has a smaller volume (takes less space) than a pound of fat. Think of a pound of corn and a pound of popped popcorn. Each weighs a pound, but the popcorn takes up a lot more space. That means a 175 pound woman with 26 percent body fat will be much smaller (probably wear one to two sizes smaller) than a 175 pound woman with 35 percent body fat. This fact becomes the "acid test" when it comes to activity-induced weight pain. If the weight stays but the body is getting smaller, then increased muscle from physical activity is at work. If the weight stays the same and the body size does too, it's not physical activity that's stalling further weight loss.
If you are interested in getting into shape for summer, call me at the Brewton YMCA at 867-9622. Let's work on an individual plan just for you. See our new schedule of classes that includes pilates, yoga, boxing body shaping and lots more.
Janet Peterman is a fitness consultant at the Brewton YMCA. She can be contacted at 867-9622.