Butter's bad for you; eat margarine. Oh, wait. Margarine is terrible, go back to butter.
The best diet is Atkins. Oh, wait. The best diet is South Beach.
Heavy weights and fewer reps are best. Oh, wait. Light weight and high reps are the way to go.
Out here in the universe of fitness and health, there is a lot of information. Some of it is just plain wrong. Some of it is convoluted. Some is right on target. All of it, put together, is enough to make the Badass Army's collective brain scatter in a million confused directions.
Being successful in the Badass Journey has a lot to do with motivation and determination, but it's tough to stay on track without the right (read: accurate) information. To start off yet another week, I present you with the...drum roll...Monday Myth Buster Edition!!!
1. I should avoid eggs because they'll raise my cholesterol: Eggs, nutritionally speaking, are second only to mother's milk. The cholesterol hype of years past has mostly died down, thanks to studies showing that eating a whole egg or two everyday is most certainly not going to put you on cholesterol-lowering meds.
2. Eating fat will make me fat: Multiple studies show that people who regularly consume a higher level of omega-3 fatty acids are slimmer – while obese individuals are almost always deficient in these type of fats. Our bodies need fat to absorb nutrients. That's why a spinach salad dressed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar is better than a naked spinach salad. The key is to avoid saturated fats and seek out "good fats" like the ones found in olive oil, flaxseed oil, and foods like eggs and avocados.
3. If a female lifts too many weights, she'll look like a man: If she takes steroids along with those dumbbell curls, then yes Roberta might start to look and sound like Robert. But I lift weights often, and heavy ones - 12 reps of a 360-pound leg press, thank you very much! And I'm pretty sure I still look like Shannon, not Shane. The fact is, lifting weights builds lean muscle -- whittling us into shape, boosting metabolism and strengthening our bones to stave off osteoporosis.
4. I can't lift weights everyday: We should definitely give our bodies a rest day, but you can absolutely lift weights on multiple days in a row as long as you're dividing up your program so that different body parts are worked on different days. Example: Glutes and hamstrings with abs on Monday, back and biceps on Tuesday, chest and triceps on Wednesday, quads and calves with abs on Thursday, and shoulders with core work on Friday.
5.For a six-pack, I should do 100 crunches every night: Give me 15 minutes, and I'll work your core without ever doing a single crunch. With planks, mountain climbers, pikes, woodchops and other moves, you can strengthen your core in a functional way while developing that washboard - and eliminating a lot of those boring crunches.
6.The key to losing weight is to eat as little as possible: WRONG! The key to losing weight is to burn more calories than we take in. But our bodies are pretty much still the vessel of caveman days. So if we drop daily calorie intake too low (below 1,200 calories, as a general guide), our bodies go into "foraging for food" starvation mode and metabolism slows to a crawl. It's a survival mechanism. The best method is to feed your body moderate, sensible meals while exercising. Skipping meals or eating carrots for dinner is not the way to go.
7.Snacking is bad: Americans have been programmed to eat three, sometimes just two, big meals. But to keep blood sugar levels stable and to keep the 'furnace' that is our metabolism burning, the ideal formula is smaller meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner with a couple of healthy snacks thrown in. Think almonds, string cheese, fruit, hummus, carrots, whole grain crackers, etc.
8.Cardio is the best way to boost my metabolism: Cardio is a great calorie torcher, but for long-term metabolism boosting the best strategy is to build lean muscle through a combination of cardio and strength work (read: lift weights! Use resistance bands! Do pushups!). Muscle builds more calories, even at rest, than fat. So add muscle, and raise your metabolism.
9.Chocolate, coffee, and wine are evil: Lots of things are evil in moderation (I.e. murder, embezzlement, smoking crack, kicking the dog). But chocolate, coffee and wine do not belong on the "do not touch" list. Dark chocolate has antioxidants, it is a mood booster, and sometimes we just need it. Coffee has been shown to make those who drink it regularly far less likely to develop Parkinson's. And red wine contains antioxidants such as reseveratrol that may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of "good" cholesterol and protecting against artery damage.
10. The best diet for me is [insert diet-of-the-moment here] and the best workout plan is [insert the latest celebrity-driven workout here]: I hate the word "diet." It sounds inherently temporary, when in fact healthy eating should become a way of living. A part of your everyday life. So the perfect plan for you is the one that keeps you healthy, lean, strong - and HAPPY. There's no use going through life feeling starved and self-deprived. Find balance in your eating.
And as far as exercise, the best method for you is the one that you enjoy. If you hate distance running, don't force yourself to train for a half-marathon. If cycling is your thing, have at it! I often tell my cycling students, "This is your ride. Control it. Do what works for you." This life is your Badass Journey. So take it as your own. Find what works, and keep going.
Coming Wednesday: A new head-to-toe Badass busting routine!