Fitness is always evolving. It has evolved from hunting for prey, fights to the death in a colosseum, war battles, going full Rambo just to see how much muscle you could pack on, to spending hours on the elliptical just because magazines told us that's what we need to do to get as skinny as the girl on the cover page.
For the most part, as North Americans, we have lost our need for true fitness. We have vehicles for transportation, grocery stores for our food, we use our words in the face of confrontation, and its only a small percentage of our population that compete in physical activities requiring more than 4 hours in a gym per week. But still, the majority of us are still in search of health and fitness in other ways. However, given the generality of modern fitness, its hard to know what information is current and what is the best way to achieve our goals.
I hear it the most from my Mom when she asks me for fitness/nutrition advice. I tell her to eat protein and do resistance training. Instead, she goes on Atkins and her treadmill. But its not her fault; she's spent the majority of her life in the age of Jane Fonda workout videos, the introduction of overly processed foods (and fat-free everything), and the evolution of an industry where science is just starting to actually differentiate between fact and fiction.
Therefore, we've brought up what we think are the most important old-school/dated concepts of fitness that have changed throughout recent years. To be honest you shouldn't even trust us; instead take everything the fitness industry tells you with a grain of salt and do your own research in actual science (no, not WebMD). Think about the information you gather.. Does it truly makes sense from a biological point of view? Who is the source? Is it relevant and effective for your lifestyle? Your search for answers should be never-ending. Enjoy.
Top 10 old-school fitness mindsets to overcome:
1. Women shouldn't lift heavy weights
Bitch please. We're hope no one still thinks this way. If anything, resistance training is more important for women than it is for men (ok, that's a bold statement, but hear me out...). Compared to men, our muscles are smaller naturally, we store more fat, and lets not forget our bodies go through extremely demanding tasks such as bearing life. In order to prepare our bodies for this physically and mentally, lifting weights (and yes, heavy weights!) will help build muscle to maintain a high metabolism, healthy muscles, and a strong frame for baby-bearing if that's in your life plan.
2. No pain, no gain
While I can appreciate this motto to some extent, back in the days of men bulking to hulk-size, we would throw weight around without a care in the world about proper alignment, core engagement, spine stability, etc. Reasons why we don't encourage this motto anymore is because the guys that used to go by it are now suffering of chronic back pain, vertebrae displacements, sciatica, etc.
With the development of physical fitness science, machines at the gym can now focus on keeping proper alignment, protecting our joints, and achieving full range of motion. As should you. This will ensure you can continue to bulk up for decades to come.
3. Eating too many eggs is bad for your cholesterol
So eggs got a bad rep because the yolks are high in cholesterol. And its true; a single egg yolk has 186 mg of cholesterol, 62% of the average recommended daily intake. HOWEVER.. the right kind of cholesterol (i.e. HDL, not LDL) is actually good for you and vital to your health.
To clarify: LDL Cholesterol = bad. It clogs up in your arteries. HDL Cholesterol = good. It moves cholesterol around, like away from your heart, back to your liver, where its removed from your body.
All of your cells are made up of cholesterol molecules and it helps make all those fun hormones like estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol. If we don't get cholesterol from our diet, our liver starts producing more of it. But when we eat cholesterol-rich foods, our body doesn't have to any more (yay, our liver can take a break!) - either way, if you get cholesterol from your liver or your diet, your body is smart and will balance it out.
In 2013, the Journal of American College of Nutrition published a review that reiterates that eggs in particular aren't correlated with higher cholesterol levels. Epidemiologic literature doesn't support its link to coronary disease. The American Heart Association also no longer restricts egg consumption. So eat up. And if you're still freaked out, we can compromise - eat some whole eggs, and supplement the rest with egg whites.
4. Carbs are bad for you
So, lets first be clear: carbohydrates are sugars, starches and fibres found in fruits, vegetables, milk products and grains. They're a macronutrient which mean its 1 of 3 ways your body takes in calories. For energy. Like living. Not just running a marathon.
Carbohydrates fuel your central nervous system, are important for brain function and are an energy source for working muscles. Because your body will break down carbs into smaller units of glucose and fructose, if you don't supply your body with this source, it will instead start breaking down protein, which means your muscles will start to break down. Not your fat, your muscles. So you'll start to lose the part of your body that burns calories naturally (i.e. muscles) and accumulate more of the stuff most of want to get rid of (i.e. fat). Plus, breaking down protein instead of carbs cause also cause your kidneys stress and you may end up peeing out some painful byproducts. Eeek.
Because carbohydrates are also found in fruits and vegetables, it makes some people not want to 'waste their calorie and carb count' on those. But its also important to know is:
1) these are good carbs - they're more nutritious for our bodies and will keep us full longer (a lot longer than a bag of chips),
2) their carbohydrate content is low compared to a lot of the other bad carbs (like that previously mentioned bag of chips),
3) more of the carbohydrates come from fibre, which is essential for digestion (no one wants to be constipated), and decreases the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.
In summary: eat your vegetables, don't be afraid of fruits, and if you cut carbs and start to get moody, don't say we didn't warn you. Limit your carb intake to your body type and goals but still be sure to go for the good carbs (whole grains, dairy, fruits and veg) and avoid the bad (everything that's bad for you that tastes so good; i.e. donuts, cake, chips, please don't make me go on, I'm starting to salivate)
5. Fats are bad. (aka motivation to buy low-fat, fat-free, fun-free stuff).
Just because something says "fat-free" doesn't mean its "problem-free". And also, all the terminology can be confusing, so lets clarify:
- "Fat-free": < 0.5 g of fat per serving
- "Low-fat": < 3 g of fat per serving
- "Reduced-fat": contain 25% less fat than the regular version
- "Light": contain 1/3 fewer calories or 50% less fat
So, here's our beef with these products: They remove fat that may not even be bad for you. Fat is a macronutrient, another 1 of those 3 ways our bodies take in energy. So when products are 'low-fat' and remove something to replace it with a processed/synthetic/filler version of it (i.e. sugar, flour, thickeners, salt), it could actually be making that food worse for you (nevermind probably higher calories to boot).
The good kinds of fat you want to go after include monosaturated fats (i.e. canola and olive oils), and polyunsaturated fats (i.e. those found in fish). Both of these also help to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad kind of cholesterol we mentioned earlier) and fuel your body with fat it needs to provide and store energy, to lubricate our nerves (in the form of myelin), maintain healthy skin and tissues (as part of cell membranes), and transport fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D and E.
Saturated fats and trans fats, on the other hand, are not so good. These are fats that are single-bond, carbon-based molecules that are saturated to the max with hydrogen bonds. This means they have less of the good stuff you want fat to have and more of the bad stuff. While they're usually found in meat sources, its still ok to have these, as long as intake is limited.
6. Diet pills will help you lose weight
Breaking down this fad is simple: diet pills are stupid.
Usually, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And that's what diet pills are. If we could all buy diet pills to solve our weight problem, we wouldn't have gyms or personal trainers or unhappy overweight people. Instead we would have people who would be shelling out money for whatever it cost, screwing up their insides, and having daily diarrhea. In addition, gastrointestinal doctors would be on year-long waiting lists.
Diet pills are most likely made up of herbs and supplements that may or may not be good for you. They usually contain ingredients such as caffeine, rooibos, and magnesium; aka random things I thought of that are stimulants, appetite suppressants and diuretics, respectively. This makes them sound attractive in diet pills. Instead just sip on a green tea, top your protein pancake with cinnamon, and take a daily vitamin. Its the same thing and it'll probably be easier on your wallet and your digestive tract.
7. To lose weight you must eat much less food
Yes, counting calories has been around forever. But if you dramatically reduce how much you eat for too long you could end up doing more harm to your progress than good. Yes, you will lose weight if you dramatically cut calories but this is not going to be sustainable. You will plateau and some people end up gaining more weight and then some after they come out of a dramatic diet as such. Spending a long time on an extremely low calorie diet can leave people very low energy, stressed and down right grumpy! This is not to mention that your body itself can go into such a state of stress where instead of dropping fat it holds on to it as hard as it can. When you begin to cut calories you have to do so in a way that you can sustain life for good. So that does not mean going from 2000 to 1000 calories over night. But instead a very gradual reduction in calories, concentrating on whole foods that keep the mind and body satisfied.
8. Eating after 8pm makes you fat
Wait, what? How does your body know what time it is? The time you eat your food does not matter. What matters is the over all calorie and macro nutrient intake along with food quality. So feel free to eat when you are hungry, even if it is after 8pm as long as you are staying within your daily recommended needs based on your goals.
9. I exercised today, so I can eat whatever I want
Not so fast. You absolutely cannot out train a bad diet. When you eat bad food all the time it not only leads to a surplus in daily caloric needs but it creates hormonal imbalances such as insulin resistance that make it impossible to lose weight. Do not fool yourself. You also probably do not burn as many calories in a workout as you think you do. So if weight loss is your goal, aim for at least 80% of your choices to meet your caloric needs to reach your goals. I do not believe its a certain % diet and a certain % exercise, I believe it is 100% commitment to both! That is how you will reach your goals.
10. Health food are expensive
Okay, yes, if you shop at the fancy organic food stores for foods labelled as "health foods" or "organic" or "all natural", they may be expensive still. However, it has been proven that a lot of the trendy "super-foods" or "weight loss snacks" cannot be compared to good wholesome whole foods. Some of the healthiest whole foods in stores are actually the cheapest. So stop looking for labels that say organic this or all natural that. Keep it simple. Shop the outside of the grocery store and look for items that are only one ingredient or do not come in a box, they are actually some of the cheapest foods you can find.