Whenever I start working with a new client, I’m encountered with some of the popular preconceived notions and misconceptions regarding nutrition, strength training (ST), the mindset needed for the process of improvements in those areas, and ultimately reaching one’s goals. Here’s an inconclusive list of all the facts I want my clients to know:
1. “I want my fat to turn into muscle”.
Muscle tissue and fat tissue are two very distinct tissues, you cannot change one tissue into the other. The goal is to gain muscle mass, and to lose the fat.
2. You don’t have to keep your heart rate up throughout a training session.
Unless you’re doing cardio and you have specific cardiovascular goals in mind, do not focus on your heart rate during strength training. The most important part is to get stronger by adding more weight, perform more reps/ sets; keeping your heart rate elevated isn’t the way to do that.
3. No foods burn fat.
If you’re eating ‘it’, it gives you energy. Energy=calories; and calories don’t burn fat. Your body uses calories for energy needed throughout the day or it stores them as fat, depending on your caloric intake.
4. Waist trainers are a NO-GO.
They restrict your breathing; restrict your internal organs and movement; prevent your core muscles from optimally working; and to top it all- you’re losing ZERO fat from it. You’re basically squeezing your fat to fit into a smaller volume. Waist trainers are a complete waste of your hard earned money, which can be spent in more productive ways.
5. Read this short article: "What the Diet Industry doesn't Want You to Know".
6. “Healthy” vs “fat burning”.
If a food is healthy for you- high in minerals and vitamins and minimally processed, it doesn’t mean you can eat it in unlimited amounts. It doesn’t mean it will ASSIST you in fat burning because no food on the planet can help you do that (see point 3). This is why people who eat ‘clean and healthy’ foods might not lose weight or even gain weight because what truly dictates weight loss or weight gain is the amount of calories consumed.
7. Timing of meals does not matter in the grand scheme of things.
Time your meals when you’re he hungriest, so if this means your last meal is at 9pm, then you do just that (assuming it will not cause discomfort at night). ‘When’ you’re eating doesn’t affect your diet outcomes; it is how much you’re eating overall throughout the day that does.
8. No foods are fattening.
Fruits aren’t fattening; Ice cream isn’t fattening; bread isn’t fattening; nuts aren’t fattening. The ONLY way to gain fat is to eat more calories than you burn per day; weight gain is NEVER the result of eating specific foods.
9. Eating smaller meals throughout the day doesn’t increase your metabolism.
The amount of meals you should be eating depends on your preferences and lifestyle. So if you eat 6 meals or 3 square meals per day, assuming you’re controlling for the calories, the outcome will be the same.
10. Protein will help you get leaner.
Amino acids are the building blocks of muscle and all the tissues in the body. Protein is the one macronutrient most people seem to forget about, and tend to not consume enough of. Sufficient amount of daily protein intake will ensure optimal results.
11. You can’t gain fat from something that provides ZERO calories, like diet- soda.
The aspartame found in diet beverages doesn’t lead to weight gain. If you’re trying to lose weight, you better drink the beverage that provides zero calories rather than the full sugary version which provides 100 calories per 8oz (!!!).
12. “I can’t lose the weight, should I trade strength training in for more cardio workouts?”.
NO. Never stop strength training. ST builds muscle, increases your metabolism, shapes up your body, and burns calories. While cardio burns more calories per minute, it’s ST that turns your body into a fat burning machine all day long.
13. You lose muscle as you age; we all do.
Regardless if your goal is to lose weight; gain weight; tone up; move without pain; increase flexibility; improve balance etc. -> we will strength train and get you stronger.
14. If you want to tone, you must strength train.
You cannot tone fat, you can tone muscle. The only way to shape up your body is by adding more muscle tissue to your frame.
15. We will strength train your entire body and not the only areas you want to focus on.
In order to prevent imbalances, movement dysfunctions, and possible injuries, we need to train in a way that encourages ‘better movement’. This means working on the muscles of the back and front, upper and lower.
16. Everything we do is to get you to move better, get stronger, look & feel better.
Even the little mobility/activation/breathing drills, stretching, soft tissue work- they all serve a purpose. The fact that we are not counting reps or making you exert as much as you do when lifting- doesn’t mean they don’t benefit you.
17. Expected side effects.
You will get sore; however, you will not be in pain. There is a difference between the two.
18. We will focus on the short term benefits of strength training rather than the long term benefits (better health, weight loss..).
We live in a world where instant gratification is the normal. We’re used to getting what we want with the press of a button. However, building muscle is different. Building muscle takes time; visual changes take time to surface. Nonetheless, stress reduction, exercise compliance, quality of sleep, energy levels, sense of accomplishment- all are great ‘immediate returns on investment’.
19. If the scale didn’t move, it doesn’t mean you didn’t lose fat.
Tracking your weight is just one way of monitoring progress; do not track your progress using only one measurement tool. Body pictures and circumference measurements are additional tools that you should be using for a more comprehensive picture on your progress. Oftentimes, the scale might not budge but you will lose the inches.
20. Weight is dynamic.
Over the length of a week, your weight can fluctuate between 5-10lbs. Weight fluctuations depend on multiple factors such as stress, hydration, carb intake, fiber intake, types of foods, time of the day, sleep etc. So keep things in perspective, and don’t let the number on the scale negatively affect your spirit.
21. You can’t spot reduce.
You can’t lose the fat from a certain area in your body. Thanks to your parents, your body decides where to lose the fat from first. With enough patience, a sound diet, and an effective strength training program, you will get to where you want to be.
22. Don’t think in absolutes.
A certain exercise isn’t bad or good for you, just like a certain food isn’t good or bad for you. Context is what helps us decide if you can benefit from doing something or not. This is the reason diet and strength training are individual to the person; and what works for one, might not work for the other.
23. Eat what you like, eat like an adult.
I will not instruct you on what to eat; my food preferences aren't necessarily yours. I will guide you and give you food suggestions, but essentially you will be the one to decide what and when you're eating in a way that supports your goals.
24. Anything that you can do ‘better’ than the previous session is worth celebrating.
You finally felt your glutes working? YES. You added 2 more reps in an overhead press? Excellent. You’re more confident with your abilities of executing a proper squat? Wonderful. You are progressing!
25. Consistency > perfection.
Focus on being consistent with your training and dietary habits. Do not focus on being perfect; no one is. Think of every day as a chance to get closer to your goal- create momentum and practice your new, positive, daily habits. The more you practice a behavior, the more ingrained it will become.
26. Don’t chase fatigue, chase performance.
We will pursue performance at the gym. This means- getting you stronger and improve your movement (patterns). Anyone can make you fatigued, just jump up and down for 30 minutes, you don’t need a trainer for that. However, not everyone can help you improve.
27. Exercise isn't punishment.
Training is meant to enhance your life, not consume your life. Once you start viewing exercise as a form of physical, emotional, and mental enrichment, the better your quality of life will be.
28. I’m not here to be your rep counter.
That would be the worst return on investment on your part ;) Instead, I will coach, guide, regress, progress, cue, encourage, motivate, push, and keep you accountable.
29. I’m all about the education.
If you have questions or you’re unsure about something, always ask. I enjoy teaching and explaining new concepts, and the more you know, the more you’ll be able to apply into your life.