It seems like despite the U.S.’s rising obesity rates our obsession with fitness and health has never been stronger. Never have there been more goods and services on the market promising to make you stronger, faster, healthier, or more beautiful. It seems like every time I turn around there is a new ‘health’ food being included in everything from salads to ice cream, or there is a new exercise class that promises celebrity athlete level abs in just ONE CLASS (for the low price of way too much money plus tax).
Don’t get me wrong, I am a strong proponent of health, nutrition, and fitness, and I do recognize that most of these trendy products and classes are just harmless trends with great marketing. However, there are some products and ideologies that keep permeating the fitness industry and are actually making it harder for people to get to the fitness level they want, or they are just downright damaging and dangerous to the body. The items below are myths that seem to stick to the industry no matter how many people debunk them, but dammit if I’m not going to at least tell my friends and family what they should be wary of.
- Right off the bat, my least favorite myth is that weight lifting makes you bulky. This one hits home for me as a woman because so many of my girlfriends have been terrified of lifting heavy weights or doing anything besides cardio because they didn’t want to become too buff. I want to point something out about this myth that should be obvious. Have you ever seen a bodybuilder? Do you have any idea how many hours and how much work you have to put into lifting to even get close to being described as bulky? The answer is A TON! And I promise you that you would definitely know if you were putting in that kind of work. We’re talking multiple hours at the gym every day, lifting HEAVY weight, and a strict diet to get those muscles to grow. I’m willing to bet that most of the people who will read this are definitely not putting in that kind of work, I know I’m not.
- In the same vein, another fitness myth that persists is that cardio is the only way you can lose weight. I’ve had a lot of friends only do cardio in the gym and tell me it’s because they want to lose their fat before they start building muscle. While cardio is an effective way to burn calories, I wouldn’t say that only doing cardio is the most effective. Many people don’t know that the more muscle you have on your body, the more energy you burn even while at rest, even while SLEEPING! Doing a combination of cardio, and other types of exercise can make your weight loss journey faster and more efficient than just running endless miles on a treadmill.
- Alright, let’s get to a flat out ridiculous trend that has gained traction in the past couple years: Detoxes. A whole slew of ‘detoxing’ juices, teas, and supplements promise to decrease the nasty things in your body, decrease bloating, and increase your energy. ALL, I repeat, ALL of these products are a load of crap. Your body already does an amazing job of detoxifying itself. Ever heard of your liver? Your kidneys? Those are your detoxifying instruments. Your body is already working to clarify your body as you read this, and I promise you an overpriced juice cleanse will only make you hungry and cranky. Furthermore, some of these products are downright dangerous. The detoxifying teas you see all over Instagram are nothing more than glorified laxatives. Most of them are not necessarily even FDA approved and can seriously damage your intestines and stool if you’re not careful.
- Ok last one, and this one is more cautionary. Scientific studies about health and fitness products appear all the time. You know the ones: “Studies show that one cup of coffee a day can increase weight loss!”. I’m not saying ALL these studies are complete BS, I just want to note that MANY are. First off, we have the problem of fake news so it might literally be completely made up. Secondly, many scientific studies are sponsored by companies and are therefore swayed to a certain result (like if Starbucks sponsored the coffee study. SURPRISE SURPRISE, coffee is good for you, buy more coffee, give your money to Starbucks, who cares about your health). And lastly, even if these studies are real, and not swayed by capitalism, many haven’t been replicated, and many haven’t even used sample sizes that are big enough or control groups. Scientists need to get published and flashy experiment results are great marketing. Quite a lot of problems with these ‘studies’, huh? I don’t want to make it sound like ALL research is bullshit, just make sure you do a bit of your own before believing someone else’s.
The world of fitness, nutrition, and wellness is flush with information and it can be easy to get caught in these niche tips and tricks that promise great results. When looking for advice, ask yourself if you find yourself being sold something as you’re reading/watching/listening? If a product is being pushed, chances are you need to dig in more before committing. And just for the record, the only method I know of that GUARANTEES results is hard work in he gym, and keeping your diet on track. Pure and simple.