Resolve to Be Fit in 2018

The countdown has begun. It seems like it was just yesterday when I opened my fitness centre, Studio 101. On January 15, 2018, Studio 101 will complete seven years! Operating Studio 101 has been challenging, yet extremely fruitful and rewarding. The one thing I love about running my fitness centre is the regular interactions with a wide variety of people. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to listen to people’s concerns about health, fitness and nutrition, and advise them accordingly. In this last article, I want to address the more common concerns people have approached me with, and debunk some widely prevalent myths. While the truth may surprise you, I hope this information will better prepare you to get fit in 2018.

Myth 1 – Muscle Weighs More Than Fat: One kilogram of muscle actually weighs the same as one kilogram of fat – they each weigh one kilogram! However, fat tissue is more bulky than muscle tissue, so it occupies more space under the skin. Thus, one kilogram of fat tissue actually will appear larger than one kilogram of muscle tissue. For this reason, a person weighing 77 kilograms, whose body is composed of 20% fat tissue will appear much leaner than a person weighing the same, but with a body fat composition of 40%. Therefore, you need to assess your weight management efforts using the appropriate body measurements and health parameters – focusing solely on the number on the scale can conceal real and important improvements in body composition. Aim for the look and the feel – not just a number.

Myth 2 – Carbohydrates are Fattening and Bad for Health: Many popular “no-carb” and “lo-carb” diets have demonized carbohydrates. It is time to take a fresh look at carbohydrates, which are the primary source of fuel for the body. Without them, we would have a very difficult time functioning and going about our day-to-day activities. However, not all carbohydrates are equal. There is a big difference between refined carbohydrates, such as pastries, cookies, white rice and maida, and those that are not processed, like whole grains, fruits and starchy vegetables. Whole grains contain multiple vitamins, minerals and fibre, which help maintain healthy cholesterol levels, support optimal digestion, and stabilize blood sugar levels. Fibre also helps prevent constipation, while creating a feeling of fullness, which prevents us from overeating – good news for anyone looking to drop some weight in a healthy way. Some examples of whole grains are whole wheat, oatmeal, jowar, bajra, red and brown rice, as well as breads and pastas made of whole wheat. Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots are also rich in numerous health-boosting minerals and vitamins. Fruit is an excellent source of fibre, phyto-chemicals and antioxidants.

So, don’t shun carbohydrates. Just make sure you are consuming the healthier un-processed variety that will power your body and provide many essential nutrients.

Myth 3 – Crunches is the Best Exercise to Target the Abs: If you think crunches are the answer to flat, tight, rock hard abs, think again. As it turns out, crunches are unlikely to get you the flat tummy that you want and may actually damage your back.  The single most important factor in seeing your abdominal muscles is low body fat. If you want those really, really great abs, your body fat needs to be low… and I guarantee you are not going to decrease your body fat through crunches. Crunches burn little to no calories and actually work very few muscles — mostly neck and back (and arms, if you put your hands behind your head). Crunches can also hurt your back as the actual “crunched up” part of the crunch exercise puts an unhealthy strain on the weakest part of your back (the part of your back that bends and strains while doing sit-ups and crunches has the greatest potential for nerve damage). Even if crunches did work your abs (which they don’t), the back damage you could suffer definitely wouldn’t be worth it.

A better bet for flat abs? Focus on moves like the plank and side plank that develop the often-neglected areas of your core. Or try exercises that also work your core muscles – for example, the squat, push-us, and pull-ups.

Myth 4 – Skinny People are Healthier than Overweight People: The key to good health is not just your weight, but also health parameters like resting heart rate, blood pressure and cholesterol. A lot of people who appear thin may still have a high proportion of body fat, a lot of it “hidden” around the organs – a condition known as “skinny fat” – putting seemingly thin and healthy people at a high risk of developing obesity-related illnesses like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and more. In fact, experts believe it’s this hidden fat around the organs that could cause the most trouble. And this fat is prevalent in people who lead an inactive lifestyle – whether they’re thin or overweight. Overweight and active beats thin and inactive any day.

There are no shortcuts and there is no magic pill. Exercise has to be a part of your lifestyle!

Myth 5 – Weight Training “Bulks you up” and does not help in Weight Loss: Nothing can be further from the truth. Yes, if “bulking up” is your goal, weight training will help you get there. However, lifting weights or doing strength training exercises like push-ups and pull-ups on a regular basis can actually help you maintain or even lose weight. Strength training builds muscle and burns fat, speeding up metabolism in the process and ultimately leading to weight loss and long term weight control. Muscle burns more calories than fat during exercise and continues to burn calories even at rest. Weight training will also make you physically stronger and increase bone density, thereby strengthening the bones and decreasing your risk of osteoporosis.

Now that you know better, throw your biases and myths out of the window and resolve to make 2018 the year to get in the best shape of your life!

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