I’ve spent years fighting the baby fat - bitterly disappointed that my body lost its shape after ‘twin skin’ settled in! I assumed that my tummy would return to ‘near normal’ after 6 months at the gym, but no! I embarked on a journey of trial and error, using my 15 years’ training and knowledge about fitness and have a few myths to bust!
Myth 1: General fitness programmes are long-term solutions for mums. Losing body fat requires specific training - cardio and weight training on different days. The cardio needs to be low intensity so that it burns more calories from our fat stores. With high intensity cardio, when the energy in the muscles is used up, the body starts to use the muscle protein itself (glycogen). So you actually lose the one thing you need; MUSCLE!
Myth 2: High intensity training produces more results long-term. Take aerobics classes, body pump, body combat, step aerobics... How many of you, who enjoy these classes actually change body shape over time? Honestly? The buzz of the class is great - I used to be an aerobics addict myself! But my body shape didn’t change until I started weight training.
Myth 3: No pain, No gain. High energy classes such as spinning, body combat, body pump are great to improve your fitness. But the pain is the production of lactate in the muscles which means that you are burning glycogen and sugar/carbohydrate - not fat!
Myth 4: High intensity cardio exercise reduces body fat more than weight training. To lose fat, you must increase your ratio of muscle to fat; the more muscle you have, the less fat you’ll store because your metabolic rate will increase. A pound of muscle burns 75 calories per day. A pound of fat burns 8 calories a day!
Myth 5: Weight training makes women look like men! Women cannot build unsightly muscle. Muscle growth only occurs when training programmes are structured for body building. To develop curvy, slender limbs and healthier appearance, we format the training differently - high repetitions and light weights are endurance exercises which just keep your body moving; they don’t promote muscle shape because the reps are too high for muscle growth.
Myth 6: You will reach your ‘ideal body shape; within 3-6 months. How long did it take for you to put on the pounds? Well, it’s going to take just as long or longer, to lose them! If you train intelligently when you reach your ideal figure, fat will stay off because exercise will be part of your lifestyle.
Myth 7: Eating less means you will lose weight. Eating less slows down your metabolism so each time you eat your body stores fat rather than burning it off!
Myth 8: Skipping meals will help you lose weight. Skipping meals slows down your metabolism. If you’re not hungry you should still eat the meal, but cut down the portion size.
Myth 9: Diets work. When you diet your body shuts down to preserve itself. Once you start eating normally again, the weight piles on - and more! Many women go back on diets because they think the diet has worked – if it had worked, you wouldn’t have to keep dieting!
Myth 10: Once you reach your goals you can revert back to the same lifestyle as before. The way you eat and the way you exercise go hand in hand. It takes a gradual change of behaviour to eradicate bad habits of the past. If you revert to bad habits, you’ll revert to the unhealthy you.
Myth 11: You have no time. You have time to shop, to eat, to chat, to meet friends for lunch, to take the car to the garage, to take kids to the cinema – find time for yourself!
Myth 12: You can’t afford personal training. What will motivate you to change? Staying stuck in a rut? Or finding an intelligent, tested training system that works?
Myth 13: New Year, New You? In the New Year most people have every intention of joining a gym to lose weight/ get fit. Even the cheapest gym is at least £15 a month. Yet still membership numbers increase every January - even in a recession. Buying your own exercise bike will save you money and time.
Weight training should be done in a gym environment, but if you have one personal weight training session each week and another by yourself at the local gym, you will gain the confidence and motivation to exercise by yourself and you’ll save money!
Fat loss expert Livia specialises in long term fat loss training programmes for women, helping them to regain their pre-baby figures. For details on the next seminar, find Fit Freedom on facebook.
First published in ABC magazine, Spring 2011