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“Man, I wish my friend knew this stuff. She’s still doing 'xyz', thinking it will solve all her problems. I just want her to feel and experience what I am!”
About six months ago now, we had the first Strong Mommas Retreat, and it was a giant success. We had faithful moms that are in the Coaching Program come from all over to spend a weekend together. We ate good food (a lot of it!), worked out as a huge group, and just hung out and had adult conversations (without kids interrupting!). Pure bliss.
My favorite part was talking to the moms and hearing how much Strong Mommas has impacted their lives. They feel like brand new women, with completely new mindsets about their bodies, food and exercise. Their time training with the Strong Mommas program has been revolutionary for them, to say the least.
Many of the women look and behave dramatically different than before. They've lost bodyfat, built muscle, march into a workout with confidence, and have complete knowledge about what foods to choose. But oh, the happiness and joy that radiates from them!
But you could see the ache in their hearts for their friends and family members that “just don’t get it!”
“I want my friend to know what this feels like. To experience this kind of freedom! I want her to not be a slave to those methods that she thinks are the right way to do things.”
It's heartbreaking to see friends that are stuck their ineffective and entrapping ways, while you're experiencing life, abundant life.
Stop. Just stop.
So what are the heavy hitters? What are the things, the myths, that most women are doing in the pursuit of health and fitness, but are totally wrong?
Prioritizing cardio way too much. The majority of women (and honestly many men, too) believe that doing more cardio is the answer to losing bodyfat. But it's not. The answer to losing body fat is doing more high intensity, muscle building activity.
Yes, to lose weight you have to create an energy (or calorie) deficit. But it's not as simple as calories in - calories out. The type of activity matters. With cardio (hopping on a treadmill and running for 30 minutes) you burn a fair amount of calories during that workout, but your energy expenditure returns to resting levels fairly soon after.
But with high intensity, muscle building activity (like a fast-paced weightlifting session), you expend an enormous amount of effort during the workout, and then experience an elevated metabolic output for a long time afterward.
So why does "cardio" work for some? Because any movement is better than none, and for those that were previously sedentary, doing some cardio is a big change! A big enough change from their inactive lifestyle to make a dent in losing body fat.
For others that are already really fit and follow a well-designed strength and conditioning program, cardio could just be the "icing on the cake". Their extra cardio sessions could be creating just enough extra expenditure to push them into an "extra lean" state. But it's certainly not the foundation of their training.
For pretty much everybody, you have to do high intensity, muscle building exercise to experience a lean, athletic body.
(Clueless on where to even start with this? I'll help you out... click here.)
Here's another myth...
Thinking that walking is enough. This idea is most popular among women that are in their 40's, 50's, 60's. You cannot "walk yourself slim", I don't care how much those health tabloids at the checkout stand say so.
Yes, walking is very good movement, and it does wonders for reducing stress. However, for most women under 80, it simply does not challenge your muscle mass, balance, coordination, power, and cardiovascular conditioning enough to make a difference in your physical abilities (or leanness, for that matter!)
Walking is safe and accessible, but so are bodyweight squats, elevated push-ups, simple planks, and other strengthening exercises with the right instruction.
Do a circuit of 4 or 5 simple strength training exercises in half the time you spend walking, and I guarantee you'll feel in far better shape!
Go for walks, even brisk walks, but don't assume you can get into great shape just by walking. No matter your age.
This next myth is still so popular!!
Not lifting weights because you’re afraid of getting bulky. There is still a large contingent of women that are petrified of lifting weights because they think they're going to build massive muscles.
Let me set the record straight...you will NOT bulk up if you lift heavy weights. It's actually very difficult for a woman to grow really large muscles simply because they don't have the levels of testosterone required to do that.
Now, there are different body types, or somatotypes, that are more susceptible to being long and thin, compact and muscular, or broad and thick based on genetics, metabolic preferences, and lifestyle. Even so, it's still unusual for a woman to bulk up like a bodybuilder, even for someone that easily builds muscle (like a mesomorph).
The benefits of weight lifting -- increased metabolism, more strength, less body fat, a healthier body -- far outweigh the "risks" that you may have a secret bodybuilder living inside of you, waiting to bust out. (Not gonna happen.)
Counting calories. Still! Why are so many people still doing this? Ok, yes, I understand that it's important to have an energy imbalance (more going out than coming in) to experience fat loss. But it's just not that simple. Trust me.
Let me say a couple things about counting calories:
- It's incredibly difficult to get an accurate calorie count on any food, even an apple. So many variables affect the caloric value of a food item, so it's a swing-and-a-miss more often than not. You could be off by as much as several hundred calories by the end of the day!
- It's tedious, time consuming, and when done consistently leads to food obsession.
- Counting calories is an advanced eating strategy. There is a time and place for counting and tracking your calories (or macronutrients), but it's a very advanced strategy best left up to those that are higher level athletes needing to dial in the details. Most people would do well to simply focus on eating more veggies and protein with every meal. (Eat your PRO's!)
Restricting your intake. Usually those counting their calories are also trying to restrict them to some degree. "I'm trying to stay under 1,500 calories day." Sound familiar?
Restriction also appears in the form of cutting out entire food groups, limiting portion sizes, or intentionally restricting meal opportunities (skipping breakfast, for example).
Here's the problem with this: there's a tipping point. More restriction is not better. Yes, like I said above, you do need a small deficit to experience weight loss, but if it's too much of a deficit, you're going to experience a couple things:
- Lack of energy and umph to do a highly effective workout.
- A slower metabolism. Yes, your metabolism adjusts based on how much you stoke it. This may take years to repair if you severely restrict your intake for a long period.
- A general feeling of weakness and lethargy.
Instead of focusing on food restriction, turn your attention to eating lots of highly nutritious, quality foods. You will still reach your goals, and will feel great in the process.
Making the scale too important. This is a big one, and it's something many of us women don't realize we're obsessed with. We have a tendency to take that number we see on the scale and let it determine our value or our health. A lot of women weigh themselves every day, if not multiple times a day. It's heartbreaking.
Talking with the women at the retreat, freedom from the scale was something all of them were rejoicing over the most. They had spent years placing too much emphasis on how much they weighed, and for many of them, it's what drove them to the Strong Mommas Coaching Program in the first place. They were searching for another solution for weight loss.
But along the way, they realized that number is just not that important. They actually feel better than ever before, have energy and physical confidence in what their body can do, and have created a healthy lifestyle that they can do consistently forever.
And in many cases, women have dropped several dress sizes yet weigh the exact same number (if not a little more). They look and feel more trim, fit and healthy than ever before.
Who cares what the scales says at that point, right??
Thinking skinny equals healthy. This goes right along with obsessing over the scale. Being skinny and thin does not mean you're necessarily healthy and you feel good.
Every so often I'll notice someone that has lost a significant amount of weight through a drastic diet. They're much thinner, sure, but they don't look healthy. In fact, they actually appear ill, gaunt, and weak. I'm afraid their body is going to crumble under the weight of their mom-purse! ("Can I hold that for you? Do you need to sit down?")
Also, you could be a "physical specimen" with single digit body fat and perfect habits while having a completely dysfunctional mind, full of pain and obsession. This is not ok, either!
Healthy equals healthy. Being physically strong, having the capacity to fend off illnesses, resistant to injuries, having energy, color, tone, and balanced mindset about it all...these things make you feel amazing, not just being skinny.
Learn and Grow.
Which "myth" about fitness and nutrition have you been believing? Is it time let go of your fear of lifting weights? Maybe you need to stop being the "cardio junkie". Or the calorie counter. Or the mom obsessed about the scale.
It's hard to release these ideas, especially if we believed them so firmly for so many years.
I know a lot of moms are scared to death that if they stop doing their cardio and counting calories, they'll gain a bunch of weight.
But can you trust me on this one? Can you trust all these other women, especially the ones in the Strong Mommas Coaching Program, that are feeling better than ever?
Don't do this alone!
Yes, putting good eating and exercise habits into place can be very challenging.
But it doesn't have to be!
Can you imagine what it would feel like to have a good relationship with food, to confidently exercise regularly, and to be happy in your body? It feels amazing!
Learn more about the Strong Mommas Coaching Program and how you can completely transform your lifestyle and feel incredible in your body without selling your soul in the process.
Try it out for a full month for just $1! Click here now!