What confusion do you face as you prepare to face your short-term or long-term health and fitness goals? Here are the 5 lies of exercise that I allowed to sabotage me for years.
Lie #1: There is no sense starting an exercise program at your age.
It doesn’t matter if you’re 30, 35, 40, 45, or beyond, this lie is brutal. As each year passed and I remained sedentary and unhealthy, I felt like I had less and less of a chance to return to a life of fitness, let alone reach any sort of goal. And I was right. But it had nothing to do with age and everything to do with attitude. The longer I believed this lie, the longer it would remain true.
The truth is that regular exercise combined with strength training keeps you looking and feeling younger no matter your age. I learned that regular exercise also lowers your risk for things like dementia, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and, of course, obesity.
As I considered getting started, I did fear that I would no longer be able to do what I once could, but I knew that was a really shortsighted reason not to get moving again. Even if I was never able to do what I did in my twenties, there was no reason not to be the best I could be today.
Challenge: Face each year as a new endeavor. Strive to be the best you can be in each moment. Don’t exercise to compete against the you of the past. Instead, make your health a gift to the you of tomorrow.
Lie #2: I don’t lift weights because I don’t want to get bulky.
The second of our 5 lies of exercise was a tough one for me. Knowing that I tend to build muscle really easily, I sabotaged myself with that lie for a long time. But even if I didn’t want to lift weights, why should that have stopped me from jogging or swimming or whatevering? It became nothing more than an excuse.
There is no reason to fear lifting weights. It’s not the weight that causes bulk; it’s what you do with it. Simply put, if you’re trying to beef up and enter a bodybuilding competition, then you want to move the heaviest weight you possibly can the fewest times possible, and max out your muscle’s potential. If you want to get leaner and more toned, then lift lighter weights a lot of times. So don’t let this lie keep you from building strength. Muscle tone will help you burn more calories and lead an overall healthier life in a multitude of ways.
Challenge: Sign up for a personal training session at your local gym and let a professional teach you what you need to do to improve muscle tone. Many gyms even offer one free session.
Lie #3: I can reach my goal with diet alone.
In truth, I do believe that diet is 75% of fitness and exercise is the rest. I don’t believe that a person can out-train a bad diet. Some would argue that a calorie is a calorie and if you take in 500 and burn 500, you’re even. If only it were that simple. There’s a lot more that goes into how the body handles the fuel (nutrition) that we put into it. And, really, I think we all can tell that the body functions better on a nutrient-rich diet rather than one full of processed foods, salt, and sugar, even if the calorie count is the same.
However, a vigorous workout raises your metabolism, gives you added energy, and sets you up for better overall health. Increased muscle tone and lean body mass helps you burn more calories throughout the day. And, exercise is a great motivator to make better food choices. After all, if I spend an hour on the treadmill, I’m sure not going to reach for a donut and blow all that effort I just put in.
In the end, the best combo is a vigorous workout plan combined with a healthy, performance-driven diet. Both diet and exercise are great, but it’s when they’re used together that you’ll reap the most reward.
Challenge: Commit to three cardio sessions and two strength-training sessions this week. Add that to a healthy, balanced diet, and see how you feel.
Lie #4: Without this expensive piece of equipment, membership, or set of videos I’ll never reach my goal.
Trust me, I’ve fallen for it so many times. If I buy this thing, join this place, sign-up for this group, download this plan, wear these clothes…then I’ll magically begin to morph into the me I want to be. Problem is, all of those things, while not necessarily bad in themselves, are only plans; they aren’t the work. None of the things on that list will do the work it takes to achieve goals. You know how I know? Because they don’t break a sweat.
Muscle is built and fat is burned when we push our bodies to the limit. If you think one or more of those things will give you the framework you need to facilitate the hard work, go for it. But don’t mistake intention for effort. Your body won’t respond to good intentions.
Challenge: Don’t fall for the lie that says you have to wait until you “have” something in place to get started. Just put on your shoes, open your front door, and go for a walk.
Lie #5: Exercise is selfish and it takes too much time.
The last of our 5 lies of exercise deals with a hefty dose of guilt. As busy people, we’re always going find things we’re not doing and/or could be doing better. I figured I’d rather feel guilty for the time I spend working out than for the bad habits I teach my kids by not moving. The truth is, inactivity can lead to way more injuries, hospitalizations, doctor visits, and use of medicines for illnesses than exercise could ever cause. The body is a machine and exercise keeps it oiled and functioning well. The best gift you can give your loved ones is your health and longevity.
In the end, my family doesn’t suffer much for my exercise time because it’s usually before anyone wakes up. But when they do have to make a sacrifice so I can do a race or long training session, they love talking about it after, seeing pictures, or even coming along to cheer me on. You can make your family a part of your journey, which will benefit all of you.
Challenge: Choose a new activity that you’ve considered but feel challenged by (running, swimming, mountain climbing, etc) and set a big goal with a deadline. Now, involve your loved ones in helping you set and reach short-term measureable milestones as you reach toward that goal together.