Have you been avoiding carbs after dark, busting your gut doing sit-ups and spending hours on the treadmill but still aren't reaching your weight loss goals?
According to personal trainer and lead fitness vlogger, Aj Odudu, being time-poor and drowning in misinformation can make it tricky to attain a healthy lifestyle.
She believes that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is all about balance, setting yourself realistic fitness goals and, most importantly, having fun.
With this in mind and to help you achieve that all-important balance, Aj, who has just been signed by adidas to create a free 12-week summer workout programme and also features in the latest campaign, has debunked the most common myths, so you can focus on having fun whilst getting fit this summer.
DOING A SET OF SIT-UPS A DAY WILL GET RID OF THOSE EXTRA INCHES
A sit-up is a very basic exercise that only focuses on one small portion of your abs. If you want a washboard stomach you need to work all of your core.
Planks and medicine ball twists are actually more effective than a sit-up. If fat is being stored around your stomach, you’re going to have to tease out those Ennis-abs from behind that layer of flab with a well-planned diet and exercise regimen. Cut down on sugar and increase your protein intake to build muscle.
THE MORE YOU SWEAT – THE MORE YOU LOSE
A sweaty workout is a slimming one right? Errr, no. How profusely you sweat depends on your body's conditioning, hereditary tendencies, the room temperature and your clothes. Sweat is by no means the main indicator of the intensity of your workout, it's just your body's way of trying to cool down and regulate its temperature.
Lots of women claim to see instant weight loss after having worked out in thick clothes, sweat suits or one of those ridiculous waist trainers that promote 'targeted fat loss around your stomach', but the weight you’re losing isn’t fat, it’s water, therefore forcing your body to become dehydrated, which can be dangerous. Besides, the water weight lost will soon be regained once you’ve rehydrated so why put yourself through that in the first place?
The more intense your workout, the more calories you burn and the more fat you lose, but fat is oxidised inside your body and it is not going to vaporise because you're sweating.
NO PAIN, NO GAIN
In this respect, no pain, no gain is not my philosophy. In the past, I have defined soreness as either 'good', meaning it was just enough to feel like I really worked my muscles, and 'bad', meaning that I was so sore I couldn’t actually function and might possibly be injured. Believe me, I’ve had plenty of experience with both. Not being able to walk properly and finding it difficult to sit down can actually be the sign of overtraining.
Basically, soreness is simply the chemical response to inflammation and so DOMs (delayed onset muscle soreness) is a poor indicator of whether muscle growth is actually occurring. The only yardstick by which you need to measure progress is that of your goal.
I often feel zero pain the day after my workouts and many top athletes train without any desire to experience muscle soreness. Why? Because it impedes their ability to perform. Judge your workout by what happens during that workout not on the DOMs you do or don’t feel the next day.
NO CARBS AFTER 6PM
Excessive eating and lack of exercise are to blame for weight gain, not carbohydrates
No need to ditch the bun from your burger at this weekend’s BBQ! Carbohydrates have been unjustly vilified as the cause of weight gain. The false perception that large meals at night time cause you to pile on the pounds because you’re not being activate is so wrong – after all, carbs cannot tell the time.
If you want to lose weight, just find that balance.
Excessive eating and lack of exercise are to blame for weight gain, not carbohydrates. We actually need carbs to fuel our bodies and carbs provide a vital source of energy for our brains.
IT'S HEALTHY BECAUSE IT'S GLUTEN-FREE
Summer is the ideal time to pack a picnic but don’t get bogged down by gluten-free myths. Eat healthy in the week and enjoy those picnic treats at the weekend; balance is key.
Gluten-free diets are all the rage right now because of the illusion that gluten-free products are automatically healthier. That’s just not true.
Of course if you have a medical sensitivity to gluten, then go gluten-free, but be warned - going gluten-free without actually figuring out if your body needs to can actually be more harmful in the long run, creating an intolerance within your body that was never there to begin with.
LIFTING IS FOR GUYS
One of the biggest misconceptions amongst women is that lifting weights is for guys. In actual fact, lifting is an effective route to weight loss and will help develop amazing muscle definition in the process.
Lifting weights is not going to bulk up those biceps and turn you into the local Arnold Schwarzenegger, try incorporating light weights into your regular summer workout moves like squats and lunges.
Lifting weights is important because it strengthens and maintains bone density and supports the joints. This aids the prevention of bone and joint conditions more common in women.
Don’t have weights? That’s no excuse! Two bottles of water will do just fine (filled with sand if you want a bit more weight). Plus, you can take them to the park, use them in the garden or get lifting in the kitchen.
YOU SHOULD ONLY SQUAT TO 90 DEGREES
How low can you go? It all depends on your flexibility, balance and how comfortable you feel. If you want to squat below your knees, go for it! It’s going to work the hamstrings, glutes and lower back more, and tighten up that booty.
If you can’t get all the way down there just yet, fear not. It’s still effective if you don’t go below your knees. Don’t push yourself too hard - just work to your range and that Beyoncé butt will come!
A BOWL OF CEREAL IS A GOOD SUBSTITUTION FOR A MEAL
No! Breakfast cereals are highly processed and highly processed food requires fewer calories to digest, so that benefit is diminished. Everyone loves a bowl of cereal, but treat it as exactly that – a treat! Breakfast cereals tend to have a high glycemic index meaning that the food will cause a faster spike in blood glucose and then leave you feeling tired and hungry.
Think about it, does it contain a good source of protein, carbs and healthy fats? No. It contains sugar and carbs (a little fibre if you’re lucky). It’s simply not nourishing enough and if your body isn't getting enough nourishment, it begins storing fat.
It’s a minefield out there but hopefully I’ve cleared a few things up. Don’t overthink what you’re doing – the fact you’re doing something positive is good enough. Just get out there and enjoy the summer.