When you are trying to lose weight, a million and one people are telling you a million and one different things. It’s an informational nightmare, and unfortunately, out of this storm of fitness advice comes a lot of rumour, myth, and untruth. I have admitted on this website before that I was an obese teenager. It was terrible and it gave me great compassion for people who gain weight and who don’t know why. Sometimes it just feels beyond your control.
What are some common weight loss myths?
Unsurprisingly, weight loss myths can cause a lot of damage to people that follow these bogus guidelines, and it can be incredibly disheartening when you think you have been working hard but don’t get the results you crave.
So, let’s sort out the truths from the untruths. Here are some incorrect and bogus weight loss myths that you might have heard. Get the right advice to push your new regime back on track. And the most important thing is consistency and believing in yourself.
Myth #1: “The scales don’t lie”
I am very passionate about having a good set of scales – I honestly don’t think you can start a proper weight loss journey without them. Read my post To Weigh Every Day or Not? My Love/Hate Relationship with the Scale for more detail.
“A study of more than 4,000 women aged 40-65 published in Preventative Medicine in 2007 looked at the relationship between frequency of self-weighing and body mass index. They actually found that weighing yourself more frequently is associated with greater weight loss.”
But exercise a sense of caution. The scale is a machine – and it might miss some daily nuances that you need to factor in. The first myth to debunk is the one being told by your scales every time you weigh yourself. This is a huge problem because so many people get disheartened when they have been eating the right food and working out for weeks, but haven’t shifted any weight at all. There is, however, a very good reason why the scales might be telling you lies.
As you will learn on good personal training courses, your workout regime helps you build muscle while burning off fat. As muscle is denser than fat and weighs more per square inch, it can seem as if you aren’t losing weight at all – or even put it on. But don’t despair – the weight loss will come. For now, focus on your figure, not the scales. But weight yourself every day (in my opinion) and learn what works from one day to the next.
Myth #2: “Diets work”
OK, I have to admit that I love a good diet – but honestly, they never work. I have put myself on just about every diet known to man. Here’s my take on the seaweed diet, here’s where I did a vegan detox and here’s where I got into fasting and the 5:2 diet. You name a diet – I have bought the book, the scales, the shakes, the powders and the hopes and dreams!
The biggest dietary myth of all is that diets are effective. They aren’t. Sure, you might lose some weight, but what happens when you have completed the diet period? In most cases, it won’t be long until you start piling on those kilos again. It’s changes to your lifestyle habits that will make the biggest difference of all, so avoid quick fixes and make sure your nutrition is sustainable for decades to come, not just months.
Myth #3: “Success with supplements”
Regular pills, powders and drinks labelled as supplements are not a proper substitute for a better all-around diet, exercise, and hard work. Supplements are not the magic bullet, so many manufacturers claim, and while some can be effective in helping you towards your goals, without exercise and the right nutrition, they won’t work – and can sometimes even cause health problems.
I am not a fan of vitamins, pills and powders – the only time I ever took vitamins is when instructed to while pregnant (iron tablets) and they didn’t seem to make much difference to my iron levels (but that’s my experience – please do what your doctor tells you to do!).
Myth #4: “Just exercise”
Years ago a very smart friend told me that I wouldn’t lose weight by exercising and I laughed in his face. But it’s true. More and more experts are now coming out and saying that weight loss is 80% food, 20% exercise – and I have to agree with them. If you run for 40 minutes on a treadmill, you might burn less than 500 calories, depending on your body composition. I’m more of a fan of simply restricting calorie intake, as exercise puts me into the binge/reward category.
However, no one can deny that regular exercise and workouts are a good thing. They will keep you healthy and help you lose pounds, build muscle to burn fat, and improve your overall lifestyle by a significant amount. However, the reality is that working out alone is not going to help you achieve your weight loss goals – you have to combine it with a healthy eating program, too.
To illustrate this, let’s say you eat a Subway Melt (by the way I find Subway has very inconsistent calorie labels) with all the toppings. Right there, you have consumed over 400 calories. To burn this off through exercise, you would need to over an hour of circuit training! If your goal is to lose weight, make sure you watch what you eat.
Weight loss myths – busted!
So, the good news is that good, old fashioned weight loss comes down to one simple metric – Just. Eat. Less. Another tip is to Know. Your. Calories. Because you might be eating more than you realise.
This is the part where I always say “I am not a nutritionist” and I have no qualifications. Like you, I’m just a regular dieter who wants to look good.
The best weight loss tip is to love yourself and treat yourself nicely. If you have gained weight, then be gentle with yourself, love yourself and you’ll be back to your old self in no time.