As Christmas fades away into the distance, New Years’ resolutions are still top of mind for many Australians and improving one’s health and fitness generally sits pretty high up the list.
But with so much information out there, it can become understandably confusing on how to get started.
We’ve reached out to several fitness industry experts to debunk some weight loss myths that will help you kick off 2018 on the front foot.
There is no magic bullet
Fitness takes time if you actually want to do it properly, and Christian Woodfood, Director of Athlete Performance at Woodford Sports Scientist Consulting says it is unfortunate many people forget about that.
“People need to stop thinking about these six week, eight week, 10 week challenges and start making it a habit, because fitness takes time, especially if you want proper longevity results,” he told Triple M.
“Everyone wants the quick fix and the magic bullet. There is no magic bullet out there, it just comes through hard, structured training along with the proper nutritional intake as well.”
Don’t underestimate strength training
Woodford says people also incorrectly believe strength training will simply bulk them up. “It just doesn’t happen like that,” he said.
“Strength training should be your number one arsenal in terms of health and fitness and actual fat loss, because we know that using strength training to help develop lean body mass increases your base metabolic rate.
“What I mean by that this, the more muscle tissue, lean muscle mass you have on your body that’s been derived from strength training, the higher your metabolic rate is, and the more calories you can expend at rest.
“Strength training actually burns fat, which is so critical.”
Don’t just do cardio
Woodford says another big myth is to place too much focus on cardio if you’re after pure fat loss.
“Some people call it cardio, I call it conditioning. I’m not saying cardio is bad because we need conditioning for cardio respiratory benefits which generally help with fitness, it is important,” he said.
“But I think far too many people looking for fat loss focus on what we call long slow distance cardio, which is 60 minutes to 90 minutes just continuous, aerobic training, when we know it’s a lot more efficient to do strength training to build lean body mass, which as I said before increases your base metabolic rate, but also doing some sort of high intensity conditioning.”
You don’t need to eat less
Accredited sports nutritionist Chloe McLeod told Triple M a big myth is the belief people must eat less in order to lose weight.
“More often than not, these days I’m seeing people who have already cut back their calorie intake pretty significantly before they come in to see me,” she said.
“Quite regularly, they’ve actually cut it back so far that they’re actually struggling to lose weight because they’re not providing their body with enough fuel.
“Sometimes it’s more about increasing the quantity of food they’re eating, and just making sure they’re increasing the quantity of the right things in order for that weight loss.”
Yes, you can also enjoy a beer or two
McLeod says our modern-day Instagram culture promotes a Spartan-like regime where people are overly strict around their diet, meaning they forget to enjoy that extra beer or burger over the summer period which is fine in moderation.
“You can certainly achieve your body composition goals with including some of those extra foods,” she said.
“It just comes down to frequency, portion size and what you’re hoping to achieve. Over restricting can often result in binging behaviours so it’s certainly not something that I recommend.”
More is not always better
Michael Cunico, the National Fitness Manager at Fitness First Australia often sees a “more is better” mentality among clients, which is essentially “the more exercise or the more work I put in, the better it’s going to be for me”.
It’s not always the case.
“Making change to that extent can something be a little bit too much for the body to handle,” he said.
“And that’s the sort of times when you wake up the next morning and you’ve got so much muscle soreness, or so much delayed onset of muscle soreness a day or two later, it’s almost difficult to even attempt to think about going back to the gym or doing something the next day.”
Find a compelling reason to get fit
Cunico says people will typically pick summer or New Year’s as the moment to start making changes to their health and fitness, but instead calls for a far more compelling reason.
“Generally change comes about slowly in sustainable chunks, but it’s also linked to a compelling reason,” he said.
“The reason I believe a lot of people struggle with New Year’s resolutions around health and fitness is because a date change isn’t really a compelling reason to start doing things differently.”
Cunico urges clients to dig a little deeper. “Generally if someone can find a more compelling reason to start changing their behaviours or the things they’re doing, the chances of them sticking to that is a little bit more,” he added.
“A compelling reason generally involves other people, family, children, something to keep you motivated when the things you may have enjoyed or was coming easy when you first started start to become a little more difficult.
“You see that when the cooler months roll around, it gets a little bit more difficult to bypsass the snooze button in the morning.”