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The Truth About Weight Loss

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The Truth About Weight Loss

When you’re trying to lose weight, it’s easy to overcomplicate things. Many of us search for secrets that will help us drop those unwanted pounds even faster. You may easily fall prey to weight loss myths, but the truth is, losing weight isn’t as complicated as it seems.

We asked Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainers Paul Mossa and Stephanie Hill to give us their perspective on some of the most common weight loss myths. 

Myth: The more you sweat, the more weight you'll lose.

Fact: “People think if you’re sweating, you’re working hard. But sweat is not fat,” explains Mossa. “You’re not dropping fat if you sweat, you’re losing water. You will temporarily lose weight, but you’ll gain it right back as soon as you put water back in your system. If you want to increase the intensity of a workout and you use sweating as a measurement of how hard you’re working, that’s different. However, the fact that you’re sweating doesn’t necessarily mean you’re losing weight.”

Myth: Exercising more than an hour at a time will cause you to burn muscle tissue.

Fact: “It all depends on your diet and the intensity of your workout,” says Mossa. “If you’re on a low-carb diet and you’re running on empty when you come to the gym for an intense workout, you have a greater chance of burning more muscle than fat. Your body needs fuel. If you don’t have any carbohydrates for your body to burn, it may break down muscle tissue. If you’re exercising for an hour or more, what’s more important is what you put into your body after your workout. That nutrition is what can help build up the muscle you’ve broken down and replenish your energy.” 

Myth: You can target one area, such as belly fat, and get rid of it.

Fact: “There is no such thing as ‘spot-reducing’ an area of fat on the body,” says Hill. “Just because you’re gaining muscle and increasing strength in the abdominal area doesn’t mean you’re losing fat in that area. To reduce fat, you must lose weight on the entire body as a result of regular exercise and diet.”  

Myth: Crunches are the key to flat abs.

Fact: “Abs are made in the kitchen,” laughs Hill. “You could work out three hours every day, but if you’re lacking a nutritious diet, you can forget that toned six-pack. You might still get it, but it will be hiding under what’s called subcutaneous fat. This is the fat that’s above the abdominal muscles—the stuff you can actually pinch and move around. If you’re not seeing the results you want, take a step back and examine the foods you’re eating.” 

Myth: No pain, no gain.

Fact: “If you’re in a gym and experience acute pain with a particular exercise, stop,” warns Hill. “You don’t need to try to push through the pain. If your shoulder hurts when you’re bench pressing, stop or you may end up injuring yourself more. On the flip side, your workouts have to challenge you in order to see the benefits. If you use the word ‘pain’ to describe ‘intensity,’ then yes, the more ‘pain,’ the more progress you will see.” 

Myth: You won't burn fat if you exercise over your target heart rate zone.

Fact: “Your body is always burning a percentage of carbohydrates and fat,” says Hill. “The level of intensity determines which you burn more of. Higher intensity workouts burn more carbs, while lower intensity workouts target fat. If you walk for a mile and you burn 100 calories, 70 percent of those calories are burned from fat and 30 percent are from carbs. Instead of walking a mile, try running at a high-intensity pace for 15 minutes. You’ll burn about 300 calories and because you’re working at a higher intensity, you could burn 50 percent fat and 50 percent carbs.”

Myth: Cardio exercise is the only kind of exercise you need to do to lose weight.

Fact: “Cardio will definitely help you increase your calorie burn for the day, but it won’t necessarily change your body composition,” says Hill. “Cardio can aid in weight loss in the form of fat and muscle. To create a lasting change, you need to incorporate strength training into your routine. Lifting weights can help build lean muscle mass which helps boost your metabolism and helps you burn more calories at rest. Try incorporating strength training two to three times a week for best results.”

Myth: You need to work out for at least 45 minutes to see any benefit to your health.

Fact: “You can do three, 15-minute workouts during the day and it’s just as good as one, 45-minute workout,” explains Mossa. “Your body doesn’t really know the difference between time. If you burn 200 calories in the morning, 200 calories in the afternoon and 200 calories in the evening, it still equals 600 calories. You could burn the same amount of calories in one 45-minute or hour-long workout. Cooper Clinic recommends exercising 30 minutes a day most days of the week. If you don’t have one long break during the day, break your exercise into 10-or 15-minute segments instead.” 

Myth: Lifting weights will cause you to bulk up.

Fact: “This is a common fear for many women,” says Hill. “However, lifting weights, even heavy weights, will eventually make you stronger, but not bigger. As long as you create a caloric deficit (burn more calories than you’re eating) and put good nutrition into your body, you will not ‘bulk up’ while lifting. You will, however, begin to burn the top layer of fat on the muscle and begin to look more toned. Women, in particular, who have a bulkier look eat, train and train to look that way.”  

Looking to lose weight and not having much success? Here are some additional tips from Mossa and Hill.  

Track what you eat. Pay attention to what goes into your body. Keep a food journal and write down everything you eat and drink. Doing so will open your eyes to what you’re putting in your body and help you see the areas where you need to improve. 

Be consistent. It’s easy to do the work when you feel good, but there will be plenty of days when you don’t feel like going to the gym or eating well. Those are the days that define your success. Continuing to show up and giving everything you have is crucial to your success.

Get an accountability partner. Find someone who will ask you if you’re working out and eating healthy and will hold you accountable. This may be a friend, family member or even professional fitness trainer.

Create a plan. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Write down how often you would like to go to the gym and then put it on your schedule. You wouldn’t cancel a meeting with your boss, so why cancel a meeting with your health?

Be your own cheerleader. Celebrate your progress every step of the way and don’t obsess over the setbacks. We all have rough days, but continue to push forward and be proud of the work that you are doing. Also, celebrate your victories without a food reward. Congratulate yourself by buying those shoes or shirt you wanted or treat yourself to a pedicure or massage. 

Interested in learning more about weight loss training? Visit to schedule a session with one of our professional fitness trainers

Article provided by Cooper Aerobics Marketing and Communications.