So… it’s been 2 weeks since I first wrote about my getting fit project at RGym. My initial idea was to give you a first update on my progress, but unfortunately, I had a big cold last week and I couldn’t train at all. Despite that, I can proudly say that I have already lost 3% body fat, primarily from the triceps and hips. I have also lost 1 cm at the waist and 2cm on the hips. When I hit the scale, though, I was very surprised to see I hadn’t lost any weight.
As you can imagine, I was a bit upset, but Patrick (if you remember, he’s The Mind), told me that I should be happy, because the real important numbers weren’t related to the scale. Plus, we all know that muscle weighs more than fat. Like a lot of people, I do want to lose weight, but if I’m honest with myself, my real objective is to become healthier and leaner. This little conversation made me want to tackle training’s biggest myths, so I sat down with Patrick and asked him about the misconceptions most of us share. After all, how often do we have a trainer and a nutritionist on hand?
The best way to get a flat stomach is to do sit-ups.
Unfortunately, doing one hundred sit-ups a day won’t make you loose your tire… We ALL have abs! We just have to have the right strategy to find your abs underneath the layers of fat. And the very best strategy is a healthy diet because abs are made in the kitchen! If you want numbers to back that up… 80% of fat loss happens through diet.
The 2nd thing you have to do is hit the weight room. The equation is pretty simple: When you lift weights, you increase your muscle mass. When you have more muscle mass, you burn calories faster. The extra calories you need to burn will then come from fat.
Women shouldn’t lift weights because it will make them bulky.
That is such a big myth! Women have too much oestrogen for that to happen. To get bulky, you need to produce testosterone and that won’t happen… unless you take anabolic steroids.
Aerobics are the best way to burn fat.
Once again, such a big misconception! Aerobic exercise (also known as cardio) is physical exercise of relatively low intensity that you can practice for extended periods of time (that’s why we can do Zumba for an hour). To meet the energy demands during cardio, you need oxygen. This can easily be compared to long distance running. The problem with this type of exercise is that when you eat a meal after the effort, all the calories are going to serve to replenish the fat you just lost. That’s why the marathon runners, even though they’re skinny, often have a high percentage of body fat.
In opposition, anaerobic exercise is a high intensity exercise that you can only practice for short periods of time… like weight lifting and sprinting. The main difference here is that when you eat that same meal, the calories will first go to tissue repair and growth, then it will serve to replenish the glycogen (which is a long-term energy storage). Only then, if there’s extra calories left, it will replenish the fat. If we use the runner image again, sprinters are usually very muscular and their body fat percentage is super low.
Sleep is secondary in a weight-loss (or health gain) program.
You can have a perfect diet and a perfect exercise plan, if you don’t sleep well – which means getting between 6-8 hours of sleep & going to bed before midnight – it’s simply not going to work. Ideally, we should follow the natural day and night cycle. So during the summer, we should go to bed at around 11pm and wake up between 6 and 7am. Unfortunately, most of the population (especially when you’re under 40) go to sleep much later! A lot of it has to do with the fact that we live surrounded by artificial lights… all of these computers and iPhones actually trick our body into thinking it’s still day and when we are ready to close our eyes, it’s usually because of extreme exhaustion.
You are wondering how this affects weight loss? Well it’s simple, when you go to bed late and don’t sleep enough hours, your cortisol level doesn’t go down as it should, and like in a stress situation, high cortisol levels increase the risk of gaining weight.
After getting a reality-check on all these myths I believed in, I was still left wondering how we can really prepare to start working out. Here are Patrick’s best tips!
Specific: You shouldn’t just say I want to loose weight, but “I want to loose 5% of body fat in 3 months”.
Measurable: It can be the weight on the scale, but it’s not always the best reference. So how your clothes fit is a very good indicator.
Attainable: To respect this point, you have to look at your genetics. In my case, for example, I could never go down to 105 pounds.
Realistic: Loosing 15 pounds in two days is NOT realistic!
Time: This one’s easy. Give yourself enough time and a specific time frame to achieve your goals.
Once you know your goals, you need a plan, especially if you don’t have a personal trainer! So do the research according to what you want to achieve!
1. Build a schedule that you will actually follow.
2. Find the right motivation! This is different for every single person, so find what works for you. It can be accountability: talking about your plan to your friends can motivate to stick to your program. In my case, I showed you what I looked like at the beginning of my journey, so I am accountable to keeping my promises. You can also train with a friend, that will usually force you to show up to the gym…
3. Visualize your goal. A good way to do that is keeping magazine clippings of the body you want. And don’t forget, it has to be realistic, I have a latina type body with good hips and thighs, so I tried looking for similar silhouettes…
4. Keep a workout journal. Write everything down, including your weight and measurements, but also the type of exercises you do in each session. It’s the best way to not always target the same body-parts and it will really improve your game!
5. Control your mind. Unfortunately, our biggest enemy is our mind, so we have to find ways to make it work for us! Know your strengths and weaknesses and develop strategies to increase the positive and tackle the negative. In my case, my strength is definitely my will, which is triggered by my desire to be healthy and forever cancer-free. As for my weaknesses, there are many… starting by my love of gastronomy and fine wine. So to work around this weakness, I have to try to cook more at home and opt for healthier aliments and combinations.
But we will get into nutrition in another post…
In the meantime, don’t hesitate to send me any questions for Patrick, Rocky or Andre… or even go to R Gym for a free try-out! Just tell them I sent you;)