Since the beginning of the year, I’ve gone on a bit of a journey trying to get in shape since having a baby. My aim was not so much about being super skinny, and more about toning muscles and feeling fitter and healthier.
I discovered there is a wealth of information out there – perhaps more than ever before – but a lot of it is misleading. I have a bee in my bonnet about this, because I found the same thing when I was researching for Nuva. Things which appeared healthy, such as juices or food labelled low fat, could actually be full of sugar. It pays to do some research first before you trust things on face value.
With that in mind, I’ve put together some common myths about losing weight and getting fit.
Myth one: Carbohydrates are your enemy
Fat used to get all the blame, and a few decades ago a whole host of products were launched which had reduced it or cut it out completely, from yoghurts to margarine. Now its the turn of carbs.
The truth is a bit of both - you shouldn’t eat too many processed carbohydrates such as white bread, but carbohydrates such as kidney beans or brown rice are full of fiber. Not only are these very filling (reducing the temptation to reach for sugary snacks and drinks as an energy boost) but they are good for regulating your blood sugar levels and some can even lower cholesterol.
Myth two: Chicken skin is bad for you
For years now, I’ve seen women pull the skin off roast chicken as though it was poisonous. People think it is full of saturated fat, but actually it is a mixture of both saturated and monosaturated fat, the same kind which is found in olive oil. Fat, as we now know, is a necessary part of our diets, and apart from that, it is the tastiest part.
You will only save yourself a few calories by ripping it off anyway so go ahead, eat the chicken skin.
Myth three: Juice is one of your five a day
Most juices which you find in the soft drinks counter are full of added sugar, so even if you are getting some nutrients from them your teeth in particular may suffer. Even juicing fruits yourself releases the sugars contained in them. Depending on which kind of blender you use, you may be getting rid of the fibrous part of the fruit when you juice it. I like infusing water to give it a more interesting taste without all that sugar. Water rehydrates you without adding lots of calories.
It’s useful to remember that sometimes we think we are hungry when actually the problem is thirst. Reach for a bottle of water before indulging in a snack or a sugary drink of any kind.
Myth four: Lifting weights makes you beefy
I love yoga, as it helps me to relax as well as making me stronger and toning my muscles. A lot of women I know however are afraid to try other forms of exercise, believing that workouts such as weight lifting will bulk them up. In fact, if you want to increase in size you need to drastically increase the number of calories you consume.
Exercise such as weight lifting also burns calories as well as tightening muscles, so the chances are you will lose weight if you do it a lot and don’t increase your food intake, the very opposite of bulking up.
Myth five: You can’t exercise while pregnant
Obviously, it is much easier to get back in shape if you never lost it too much in the first place, but is it safe to work out while expecting? Some people treat pregnancy like it was some kind of illness, but while it can vary a great deal from person to person, there is no reason why many of the things you usually do can’t continue during pregnancy, including exercise.
Low impact exercise like swimming or the treadmill is best, and it is important not to push yourself too far and to listen to your body as the nine months progress.
Myth six: Eating late at night makes you put on weight
Calories are calories, regardless of when you eat them. Nevertheless, I try and eat a hearty breakfast and lunch as I tend to be less hungry at night. People who have skipped breakfast and grabbed something light on the go at lunch are more susceptible to snacking unhealthily or eating huge portions at night. It is also not easy to digest a big meal eaten just before going to bed, so it makes sense to have your bigger portions earlier in the day.
Myth seven: You have to exercise for 45 minutes to feel the benefit
As a Mum, I don’t always have 45 minutes to spare, and this idea made me feel like it wasn’t worth using the time that I had. However, a lot more research these days points to the value of short, intense workouts. And even if you only have 15 minutes, it is better to do something which improves your cardiovascular health than nothing at all. Walking instead of taking the lift or driving to the shops is good, as every little bit counts. To lose weight however, you will need to put the hours in over the course of a week.