You press play on a new workout or join a class, feeling hopeful, ready to crush a new workout program you’re sure will result in losing a few pounds. But then a few weeks later, you realize you’re not making progress. This is a total buzzkill that can completely derail your motivation.
Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of misinformation out there that can turn your good intentions into a “what’s going on” moment. But it really doesn’t have to be this way. Let's break down six common weight loss myths when it comes to your fitness routine, so you can start an effective workout regimen that will help sculpt your body into the lean, mean, muscle machine you actually want.
6 Weight Loss Myths You Should Stop Subscribing To
Myth #1: The Scale is The Holy Grail of Measuring Progress
An effective workout routine helps you burn fat, not just lose weight. Becoming leaner includes reducing body fat and increasing muscle mass. This will make you appear smaller, but because you’re sculpting those muscles, the scale may not tell the whole story. In fact, when you begin building muscle, your weight may plateau or even go up, but your body fat percentage will continue to go down (and so will your waist size).
Muscle is denser than fat, meaning one pound of fat is about two grapefruits in size, whereas a pound of muscle is about two tangerines. Measuring progress across a range of data points is best — think measurements, how your clothes fit, energy levels, and sleep quality!
Myth #2: Every Workout Needs to be Intense to See Results
HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is an effective way to burn more calories for hours even after you’re done exercising. However, you can have too much of a good thing. Doing HIIT too frequently can actually hinder muscle growth. Not giving your muscles enough time to recover can also put you at risk for injury. The sweet spot? Aim to fit in about three to four days per week max of HIIT training.
Myth #3: The Longer You Workout, The Quicker You’ll Lose Weight
It may seem like easy math — if you workout longer, you’ll burn more calories and lose more weight. Depending on how you look at it, we have good/bad news. You don’t have to spend hours exercising to see results. In fact, working out for too long can put you in a catabolic state where you begin to burn muscle for energy (bye-bye gains).
Instead, focus on building muscle to increase your metabolism, or how many calories you burn doing absolutely nothing. To spend less time working out while burning more calories, try circuit training. By performing multiple exercises in a row back-to-back, you cut down on your rest time and increase your heart rate for a double whammy that may give you results even quicker.
Myth #4: If You Eat Something “Bad,” You Can Just Work it Off The Next Day
We all love us some pizza and ice cream, but if you’re trying to lose weight, it won’t do you much good to try and “burn” it off the next day. When you exercise to compensate for nutrition choices, you’re sending a message to your brain that exercise is punishment. Instead, let’s continue to see exercise as the amazing privilege it truly is.
Your body is active, it’s healthy, and you are beautiful! So go eat the darn pizza if you really want and move the next day because it feels good to, not because you feel guilty.
Myth #5: The More You Sweat, The More Weight You’ll Lose
Weight loss myth busted right here — more sweat does not equal more calories burned. Yes, you can lose a good amount of water weight by sweating, and you will see it on the scale… temporarily. However, you can burn just as many calories with exercise that doesn’t make you sweat nearly as much.
If you’re lifting weights or running in colder weather, you may barely sweat, but you will still see results from consistent exercise. Instead, focus on the intensity and type of exercise that fits your daily exercise goal to get the slimmed waist you’re working so hard for.
Myth #6: No Pain, No Gain
This age-old saying has got to go. Feeling discomfort during your workout - like using your strength to lift weights and taxing your endurance - are signs you’re getting in a great workout. However, if you’re feeling any sort of pain, it is a sign that you could be injured or are about to hurt yourself. When this happens, it is your sign to stop what you’re doing and tune into your body. It can be tempting to push through it. However, getting injured will only set you back further from reaching your goals. Take a breath, tend to what your body needs, and stop doing any exercise that aggravates it.
Weight Loss is More Than Aesthetic
It is super fun to feel amazing rocking your skinny jeans. However, paying attention to your weight is more than the way you look. Maintaining a healthy body weight may help increase your energy and productivity, improve sleep, decrease your risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, improve your cholesterol, reduce joint pain, and make everyday activities feel easier. All the hard work is so worth it, so keep on going!