More weight loss myths

Published 3:49 am Monday, May 16, 2005

By By Janet Peterman
Weight loss and maintenance are not just about food and behavior modification.  The amount of energy we burn in our daily lives also directly affects success in weight loss.  Losing weight is a matter of creating an imbalance between the amount of calories taken in and the number of calories burned.  
The amount of  "activity" (has a lesser connotation than exercise) required to show measurable health benefits and assist in weight loss is much less than the amount required to become physically fit.
Therefore, in most cases I try to decrease sedentary behavior and just try to move more.  What if you lost your remote control to the television for just one week?  
Myth No. 5: Muscle will turn to fat when you stop exercising.
Muscle and fat are two distinct tissues.  Fat does not change into muscle, nor muscle into fat.  If you eat too much and exercise too little, any calories beyond those you need to fuel your body will be stored as fat.  
On the other hand, if you burn more calories than you take in during the day, the body will take the needed calories from your fat stores and body fat will be reduced.  Active individuals who stop exercising will lose some muscle, and due to decreased activity, may put on fat if they don't adjust how much food they eat accordingly.  This is new fat, not converted muscle.
Myth No. 6: By exercising specific areas (ie: my stomach), I can burn fat from just these troubled spots.
Spot reduction does not work.  When you combine exercise with a nutritionally balanced diet, you lose fat from all over your body.  Toning exercised can firm and build muscle in a specific body part, but cannot make specific fat deposits disappear.
Myth No. 7: If I exercise a lot and don't eat quite so healthy, I'll still be able to lose weight.
It takes A LOT of physical activity to burn a significant number of calories and VERY LITTLE food to eat a significant number of calories.  
Take the example of someone who walks an extra 2.5 to 3 miles to work off two Oreo cookies.  That's approximately 45 minutes of walking for 30 seconds of eating!  
Thinking in those terms, it's not a surprise that "a lot" of physical activity and "a little" off the food program add up to no weight loss.  Add to the mix that the average person underestimates his food intake by as much as 33 percent and overestimates his physical activity by about the same amount.
I am a firm believer in moderation.  Consider your personal lifestyle and choose a food and exercise program that you can live with for the rest of your life.  Be educated, know the facts and get help if you need it.  Call me at the Brewton YMCA (867-9622) for more information. I'd love to hear from you.

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