In part 1, I discussed a few popular misconceptions that I believe have really hindered folks in actually achieving their health and fitness goals. Believe it or not, I thought of a few more 😉 So here are 3 more lies that keep people frustrated and unhealthy.
Lie #5. Eating protein will make you bulk up.
Protein is a macronutrient which means it’s essential for life and growth and it’s needed in larger quantities than most other nutrients. Protein aides in just about every metabolic function in the body and promotes a healthy immune system. It also takes more time and energy to digest, helping you feel full for longer!
Moreover, most weight loss is a combination of losing fat and muscle. Since most people don’t want to be soft and weak, the goal is to lose fat while maintaining as much strength (and muscle) as possible. Protein helps your body hold onto the muscle so that you end up with a tighter, leaner bod. It also helps fuel your muscles during a workout, so if you’re looking for a way to feel more energetic during your workouts, make sure you are getting enough protein.
Protein also happens to be sorely lacking in most American diets.
For all of these reasons, you’re probably used to hearing every fitness pro consistently bring up protein. HOWEVER, protein by itself is not some insta-bodybuilder nutrient. Eating too much protein will not make you bulk up (unless you mean gain fat, in which case, eating too much of any macronutrient can make you gain). For fat loss and a healthy lifestyle, there still needs to be a balance of macronutrients and you will still need to perform muscle-promoting exercise in order to maintain (or increase) strength and definition.
Lie #6. Running is a great way to lose weight
Some people will lose weight while running. However, for the most part, long distance endurance-style running is not great for fat loss. In fact, many runners will actually notice that they tend to get a little softer when focusing solely on endurance running. There are 2 big reasons why this happens:
1) Your body adapts quickly to doing the same things over and over. The only way to vary your running is by changing the speed, which most people don’t do. So over time, even if you’re running longer distances you will burn less calories even while doing more work!!
2) The other reason is too much time in the “fat burning zone”. Sounds like a good thing, right? The only problem with this is that when you make fat a primary source of energy, your body is smart enough to realize that it’s burning through a lot of fat and will start storing it so that it has enough for the next run.
Truth: If you’re looking to lose fat, stay away from a long, slow, steady-state running. You need to be switching up the intensity levels with things like intervals, sprints, and ideally, some strength training. For more ideas on how to do this, go here or here. 😉
Lie #7. Strength training is just for building muscle (and will, therefore, make you bulky)
Here’s the deal, unless you want to look like a skeleton, you will have some combination of muscle and fat on your body. That’s normal and healthy! 😉 So obviously, we want more muscle and less fat….or at least, that’s what I always thought. Let me explain…
Since your body works on a “use it or lose it”-type of system, strength training is meant to improve your strength so that your muscles continue to work for you and you continue to have the ability to do the things you want to do. This makes sense right? We like to be able to go up the stairs without feeling like we’re gonna have a heart attack.
Yes, strength training can help one increase muscle mass. I’ve written about this already here and here and here, so I’m not going to go into why it’s really hard for women to “bulk up” from strength training. But what I’m amazed at is how quickly and how often the term “bulky” still gets thrown around with such disgust and fear. “I don’t want to get bulky,” or “Careful, you don’t want to get too bulky”.
As a culture, we have gotten so far away from what health actually is that I’m not sure we’d recognize it if it came up and smacked us in the face. With the emphasis on size above all else, we are quick to think of “bulk” as the ultimate evil. As if the worst possible thing would be to be a little bit bigger or a little more defined than the media has determined is suitable for women. Forget if I’m strong or healthy, gotta fit into that size 2 if I want to be considered beautiful/healthy/feminine/worthy. What’s sad to me is that we have become so obsessed with size that most women really would rather be skinny and weak than have a little definition and be stronger.
I get that everybody is entitled to their own definition of beauty, (I myself admit that I’ve had a lot of time to work through my own process with this whole idea) but this just does not sit right with me.
The thing is….there is beauty in strength, in training your body and your mind to be strong and resilient, in discipline, in confidence, in taking care of yourself, and in being able & capable of doing the things you want or need to do.
Whether we want to believe it or not, we are all products of our culture. I’m not saying that you have to like the look of women with definition. What I am suggesting is that we all think twice before throwing around the word bulky. There are a lot worse things than being muscular!! And strong is beautiful, too. 😀