Are you struggling to sort fitness fact from fiction? We asked the expertsto explain once and for all how extra activity affects your weight loss…
Myth #1 I have to exercise if I want to lose weight
When it comes to weight loss, experts agree that it’s what you eat that counts most, not how much you exercise. ‘When you’re Food Optimising, you’ll be eating at least 500 fewer calories a day, without feeling hungry. To burn off 500 calories by exercising, you’d have to run for about an hour a day, which most of us would find impossible,’ says Dr Jacquie Lavin,
Slimming World’s head of nutrition and research. ‘So if you don’t feel confident enough to start exercising straight away, don’t worry. Food Optimise 100 per cent and you’ll easily lose 1-2lbs a week – and sometimes more – regardless of exercise.’ Many people find they naturally become more active as the weight comes off, which can be an extra boost and a big help when it comes to maintaining your weight loss.
Myth #2 If I do 30 minutes’ exercise, I can enjoy 10 more Syns each day
While exercise brings a load of rewards – more energy, better sleep and improved body image to name a few – an extra Syns allowance isn’t one of them! ‘The problem with using exercise to “earn” Syns is that most people naturally overestimate how much they’ve done, and overcompensate,’ says Jacquie. ‘That would mean you’re back at square one and might not lose the weight you’ve been working so hard to shift – or, worse still, you might gain weight.’
Myth #3 Exercise is the best way to target my ‘fat zones’
‘It’s understandable to think that if you’re exercising a specific area, your body will
draw on fat from there for fuel,’ says Dr Daniel Bailey, sports scientist at the University of Bedfordshire. ‘The reality is that your body uses fat from all over.’ So no number of sit-ups will magic away a tummy – although they’ll help improve muscle tone. ‘Exercising regularly and following a healthy eating plan [like Food Optimising] will tone you up and help you
gradually lose body fat, including from problem areas,’ explains Daniel.
Myth #4 Muscle weighs more than fat, so it’s because of exercise that I’m not seeing results on the scales
There’s no doubt that regular exercise strengthens and tones muscles, which is why it helps you look better both in and out of clothes! Actually adding muscle, though, is not an easy task – just ask any bodybuilder. ‘Unless you’re regularly doing intense weight sessions (that is, four or more times a week, where the weights are so heavy you struggle to do more than
six to eight reps) it’s highly likely there’s a non-exercise related reason for the scales sticking,’ says Daniel.
Myth #5 Energy drinks don’t count as Syns because I need them to exercise
Unless you’re a serious athlete or a long-distance runner, you don’t need special drinks, shakes or supplements to exercise. ‘Energy drinks and shakes are often packed with sugar and can be high in Syns,’ says Jacquie. ‘Although it’s important to keep hydrated when you
exercise, your regular drinks are fine, and stick to your normal meals and snacks too. If you do feel hungry after exercising, make the most of your Free Foods.’
Myth #6 I can’t exercise because I’ve got diabetes/arthritis/ backache/I’m pregnant
These days, doctors think that having a long-term health condition is all the more reason to exercise. There’s growing evidence to show it has pain-relief effects, and can alleviate symptoms of arthritis, migraine, backache, IBS and more. Even just simple stretches and strengthening moves can help reduce back pain. And studies have found that exercise can boost your energy levels, too, even if you do have a long-term condition. ‘Exercise
is recommended for people with diabetes because it helps regulate blood sugar
levels,’ adds Daniel. ‘And when it comes to arthritis, both exercise and weight loss
can improve joint function and help to reduce pain.’ Research also shows most
exercise is both safe and beneficial in pregnancy, may shorten labour and can reduce the risk of complications. So, as long as you’ve checked with your health professional first, don’t let health concerns hold you back.
Myth #7 If I’m not losing weight, I must need to exercise more
‘We often hear our members say they haven’t lost weight this week because they didn’t exercise,’ says Jacquie. ‘It’s much more likely, though, that they weren’t Food Optimising completely – so our advice would always be to take an honest look at what you’re eating.’ Are you keeping an accurate count of what needs counting? Are you checking Syn values, or guessing? Is everything you’re counting as Free really Free? ‘Sometimes going back to keeping a food diary like you did at the beginning is all you need to kick-start weight loss again,’ says Jacquie. ‘Switching to more Speed Foods (foods low in energy density) and Superfree Foods (almost all fruit and vegetables) can make a difference, too.’
Myth #8 All exercise will give me the same benefits
‘Any type of exercise brings health benefits,’ says Daniel. ‘If your aim is to help lose fat, though, you’ll get the best results from choosing aerobic exercise.’ That’s the stuff that really gets your heart and lungs working – like brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling and studiobased classes such as Zumba. Once you’ve got a routine going, think about adding in some toning work, says Daniel. ‘Resistance or strength-based exercises help to tone you up and improve posture.’ Pilates, weight training, circuit training or gym classes such as Bodypump all count. And finally, don’t forget some gentle stretching – increasing your flexibility can help keep niggling injuries at bay and keep you mobile as you get older. Opt for yoga and you could reduce stress levels into the bargain! ‘Variety is the key to getting the most out of exercise,’ says Daniel. ‘It’s also the best way to stave off boredom and help you stick to it long-term.’
Myth #9 I won’t maintain my weight loss unless I exercise
‘Food Optimising is a long-term lifestyle change. If you stick to it and don’t go back to old habits, you will keep the weight off, whether you exercise or not,’ says Jacquie. There’s no doubt, though, that getting into the exercise habit does make it easier to stay slim for life – around 90 per cent of people who have maintained a loss long-term say keeping active has helped. And you don’t have to go anywhere near a gym to exercise if you don’t want to. According to a recent study, clocking up 30 ‘active minutes’ spread throughout the day – whether that’s walking, vigorous housework or gardening – brings the same key health benefits as a 30-minute workout. ‘The secret is changing your mindset so you’re always looking for ways to squeeze some activity into your day,’ says Jacquie.
all fitness___ sally brown