Many women are finding the time and energy to workout more, which is good news for the health and fitness industry for sure. But as more women pack their gym bags or take their fitness outside, a lot of misconceptions exist on exactly how to stay fit. Here I breakdown some common mistakes many of the women I worked with over the years make, as they try to get in shape and stay healthy.
Ignoring Emotional Eating
Despite working out more, the obesity statistics have remained pretty similar. One major reason why is emotional eating. Studies show that is the number one issue you must resolve to get and stay in shape. If you suffer with emotional eating, seek out ways to figure out the problem and take the steps necessary to solve it. Whether it’s counseling, journaling, or one-on-one meetings with family and friends to discuss past hurts, you must address the emotions that lie beneath. Don’t ignore emotional eating as if it’s just your problem. Find the cause so you can get past using food for comfort.
All Workout, No Play
Working out is supposed to be fun, exciting, and meaningful for you from within. If you need a jolt of motivation, maybe you could incorporate some play-like elements such as team sports, or the excitement of a workout partner. A little competition goes a long way, so incorporate games every so often. What you do doesn’t have to be the most strenuous thing in the world, but bear in mind the risk (of sweating your butt off) justifies the reward. One way women are challenging themselves with competition is through Cross Fit where bragging rights are more important than the routine class workout format. If you’re too competitive learn how to make it fun, cause it’s not about winning, or crossing the finish line first, it’s about crossing the finish line with pride.
Comparing Your Body to Others
How many times have you picked yourself apart for not having what someone else does body-wise, or worse, reminiscing on what you may have looked like in another point in your life. Instead, find ways to boost your confidence and accept your body for what it is. Of course you want to look and feel your best, but the only way you can get there is if you stop beating yourself up, and be nice to what you already have. The body you own now is the body you need to get the body you want. Treat it well, and it will reflect how you feel about it.
Not Getting Enough Rest
As I mentioned, you have to be nice to your body. Rest and recovery is just as or even more important as gaining endurance and getting stronger. Not getting enough deep sleep can weaken our body’s ability to fight fat. Weight loss has a lot to do with hormones, and deep sleep is when our growth hormone and testosterone are produced in higher numbers, which helps our bodies lose weight more efficiently. In addition to getting enough sleep, take active days off from hard workouts. This is where the play-style workouts come in, or where you can incorporate yoga, stretching, or other leisure physical activity like a game of basketball or a hike into your day. Be sure to also allow your muscles to recover by alternating strength training days.
Leaving Your Cup Half-Empty
With many of the women I’ve trained, I’ve found that they put their needs last on their daily to-do list. To fill up other people’s cups, you have to have a full cup yourself or you’ll burnout. A healthy person is one who can balance the needs of others without forgetting about themselves. Don’t guilt yourself out of finding me-time. It is in that time of self-reflection that you can refresh and be re-invigorated to do things for others. Especially if you are a Mom, being a good example also includes teaching your family how to take care of themselves.
No Strength Training Strategy
If I did a Facebook survey on comments women made about working out, cardio would probably be a trending topic. Unfortunately, lifting weights would not. Many women miss out on the advantages of lifting weights because they don’t want to bulk up. But, this misconception could hinder some from getting the best results from their fitness routine. Two reasons women should lift weights are muscle burns more calories and stronger muscles can do more without as much work. Another plus of lifting weights is muscle tone. Feminine curves, like Michelle Obama’s arms or Beyonce’s quads, are created in the weight room, not on the elliptical.
Another bad habit that prevents results, that I’ve seen women succumb to is skipping meals. It seems counterintuitive to tell some to cut down on eating, and still eat three meals and a snack, but it’s a must to eat as you get healthy. Your body needs food to operate and feel great. Not only does skipping meals cause a drop in blood sugar that will make you feel sluggish and tired, but it can also make you feel crabby. If you get a little moody sometimes it may have nothing to do with being a woman, you may not be eating as often as you should. Try not to go more than 3 hours without a meal or snack and see if that makes a difference.
Obsessing About Spot Reduction
Ok, I mentioned arms and quads earlier, but women focus too much on one or two muscle groups and lose site of the overall strength of their bodies. You can tone a certain area, but not until your entire body is strong. Only about 25% of your workout should be focused toning exercises. If you really want to see results in certain areas you’ll have to burn the fat off of the entire body. “That means you’ll have to burn more calories, which means tricep kickbacks, curls and butt lifts won’t do it on its own.”
Only Doing Cardio
“While spot reduction shouldn’t be a focus, neither should doing the same cardio exercises.” Mix up your cardio workout arsenal. High intensity cardio is an easy way to burn calories and keep your fitness levels on the up and up. However, it will take work to keep the progress going. Instead of doing the same set of time at the same intensity on the treadmill or elliptical, add resistance along with higher intensity intervals to challenge yourself. Doing the same cardio session day in and day out is like lifting the same weight: you’ll never get stronger. You might also incorporate some short bouts of cardio into a circuit that includes core exercises, strength training, and dynamic movements that allow for full range of motion movements.
Ignoring Long-Term Goals
Now to the hardest thing for both men and women to do: take a big-picture approach to health and fitness. Beyond your weight loss goals, or trying to fit a certain size of skinny jeans, getting more fit and eating healthy is a long-term goal. This goal isn’t about other people, it’s about you. Your health, your happiness, and your ability to accomplish the goals you have in life. How many people have you seen say they can’t do this or that. You can be the difference if you look at your health and fitness from within.
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