by Rebecca Cronk
To many personal trainers’ displeasure, myths and half-truths associated with diet and exercise abound; much like rumours at a high school dance. The reality is that it’s easy to fall victim to a fitness or diet myth. We’ve all done it. If everybody is talking about it, it MUST be true…right? WRONG! Let’s dispel a few of these myths right now.
Myth #1: If I start exercising, my fat will turn into muscle.
Oh, if only it were that easy. Fat DOES NOT turn into muscle. It doesn’t matter if you are sedentary or active; fat and muscle are two entirely different types of tissue. Having fat turn into muscle is about as likely as having a lump of coal turn into gold. If a person who was once very active stops exercising, muscles will eventually atrophy (waste away) and become less efficient, and the body’s ability to burn fat will become compromised. The bottom line is, when an exercise routine is abandoned, oftentimes so too is the healthy diet; resulting in lost muscle and subsequently gained fat.
Myth #2: Postmenopausal women should not do strength training.
This could not be further from the truth! In fact, it is the perfect time to start. Strength training does so much more than make you look and feel great. After menopause, the potential for osteoporosis increases substantially. Strength training promotes increased bone density and improves balance and mobility. Many women experience fewer symptoms associated with other diseases as well, such as, diabetes, arthritis and heart disease. The bottom line here is that the older we get, the benefits of exercise multiply.
Myth #3: Women will get bulky if they lift heavy.
This is one of the biggest untruths disseminated in the fitness industry today. YOU WILL NOT HULK OUT BY LIFTING HEAVY…I PROMISE. Look; I have been weight training very regularly for over ten years now, and I am FAR from the Incredible Hulk. Yes, we’ve all seen those pictures of the incredibly muscular and rather masculine looking female bodybuilders that many of us might find disturbing. What you must understand is that these women look that way by choice; after training and dieting excessively for many years, and often pumping themselves full of anabolic steroids to enhance muscle growth. That coupled with the fact that they likely had insane genetics to begin with. The reality is that women have between 1/15 to 1/20 the amount of testosterone (the main hormone associated with muscle growth) compared to men.
Ladies, listen, if you want to look healthy, feel great, and be strong, DO NOT be afraid to lift heavy things. The benefits are immeasurable! Carting your toddler around in your arms, chasing after your grandchildren, carrying in your family’s groceries, stacking wood, rearranging furniture, and climbing stairs will be a breeze.
In conclusion, remember that, because the health and fitness industry is, by and large, unregulated AND is comprised of many ferociously competitive entrepreneurs, sadly, sometimes the volume of sales and company profits come before customer health and well being. DO YOUR RESEARCH. Find a personal trainer and/or a gym that conducts business with integrity, putting the interests and wellbeing of their clients above all else.
My finals words…”Beware of the half-truth. You may have gotten a hold of the wrong half”. ~Unknown
Rebecca Cronk is a fitness specialist and owner/operator of Get Cronk’d Fitness Studio. She has an Honours Bachelor of Science with a Specialization in Human Kinetics from the University of Ottawa, is a professional member of the Canadian Society of Physiologists, Exercise is Medicine Canada, Canadian Fitness Professionals, and the Ontario Society for Health and Fitness.