When it comes to weight loss, myths about diet and exercise abound. Many exercise myths frame exercise and healthy eating as chores. Some exercise programs imply we can work out a specific area of the body to eliminate the fat, referred to as “spot targeting fat,” or that we can “burn off” junk food.
The old adage “if it is too good to be true, it’s probably false” applies here. Once you recognize the faulty premises behind common fitness myths, you can learn to use mindfulness to overcome the real barriers to your health goals.
“Fat can be spot-targeted through certain exercises.”
You cannot “spot-target” fat with certain exercises. When exercising, we lose fat stored all over the body, not in specific spots targeted by strengthening exercises. For example, crunches will strengthen abdominal muscles, but they won’t remove fat from the abdominal region specifically. Ultimately, programs that emphasize spot-targeting fat are focusing on negative insecurities, setting people up for frustration and disappointment.
Real, lasting change, begins by altering the way we think about exercise and food. Instead of having to lose weight or having to workout, try a positively-oriented, mindful approach. You don’t have to do either of these things. You can, however, choose to live a vibrant, healthy lifestyle that you enjoy. If want to strengthen your body, you choose to exercise. If you want to fuel your body properly, you can choose to eat delicious foods that also happen to be healthy. Experiment and discover things that you enjoy that also support what you want to achieve.
“I can burn off the junk food.”
A nutritious diet is a component to any weight loss program. Nutritious foods allow us to get adequate vitamins and minerals from our diet and properly fuel our bodies. While you may be able to “burn” enough calories to nullify occasional junk foods, this statement sets us up for failure. How? Like many health myths, it frames food as a reward, and exercise as the punishment.
Real, lasting weight loss is about more than counting calories; it’s about addressing the root causes of poor habits. We all have ingrained beliefs about our own self image and capabilities. To enjoy lasting success, become aware of these self-limiting, ingrained beliefs about health, nutrition, and self-image and begin to challenge them. Replace them with positive thoughts and positively-framed goals which will lead you to positive outcomes.
“Some people just enjoy exercising more, and that will never be me.”
People who enjoy exercising regularly are often motivated by more than appearance, and even look forward to exercising. But they weren’t born that way. Rather, their mindset toward exercise is likely internally motivated. Perhaps they love how they feel after exercising, they notice they have more energy, or they sleep better.
By reframing your thoughts about exercise to focus on positive beliefs and responses to the experience, you too can become that person who enjoys working out. Seem impossible? Try starting small; even five minutes of exercise can be beneficial to your health. During these short sessions, focus on how capable you are, how your muscles use energy, or how strong you feel when you do each exercise. Mindfulness practices like this can help you create positive experiences with exercise and reshape your entire mindset around it.
These three myths frame exercise as a chore and food as a reward. Enjoy real, lasting change by altering the way you think about the elements of a healthy lifestyle. With mindfulness, you can challenge your ingrained beliefs about food and exercise and enjoy a sustained healthy lifestyle. “Change the mind and the body will follow.” Want to learn more about how mindfulness can help you on your weight loss journey? Check out what makes MindFirst Health & Fitness different from other programs.