A lot of people get intimidated and overwhelmed by health and wellness because there are so many different perspectives, ideas and concepts on what is "good for you." With all of these varying viewpoints on health comes a great deal of false ideas and myths. This is when health and wellness just become confusing and seemingly too much to keep up with. It's important for people to decipher what is best for them, individually, and learn how to best apply it to their health and well-being.
Diets are the best way to become healthier. There are a great deal of diet fads that people tend to follow, such as low-carb or high fat. Sure, some diets may help people successfully lose weight, but they are not sustainable for any length of time and aren't exactly healthy. Low-carb diets, for example, do not allow us to give our bodies the carbohydrates that we need for energy production. Carbs are not an enemy. The keys to healthy eating for weight loss are portion control, whole foods and getting your body the vitamins and nutrients that it needs to function properly.
Women will become bulky if they lift weights. This couldn't be further from the truth. Men who lift weights consistently have a tendency to become bulkier because they have something that women do not have: testosterone. Because we women lack testosterone, it is highly unlikely that our muscles will become astronomically large from lifting weights. Women who do become quite large and who lift weights consistently likely did not become that way just by lifting weights.
Crunches and sit-ups will get you the six-pack abs you've been wanting. Actually, abs are created in the kitchen, not necessarily the gym. Abdominal exercises are great to strengthen our core and its muscles, but if you are not eating healthy foods, washboard abs are probably not going to happen.
Working out as often as you possibly can is the healthiest option. Rest days are important and necessary. Our muscles need recovery time. Not allowing muscles appropriate time to rest can lead to the opposite effects that we want (lack of strength and muscle gain, etc.) and potentially even overtraining syndrome.
You can "spot reduce" certain parts of the body. As a personal trainer, I frequently hear, "I want to lose this fat here," or, "I just want to tone up my thighs." It is true that certain exercises work certain muscles, but you can't actually reduce body fat in certain areas. Our bodies just do not work that way.
Being overweight means you are unhealthy. Weight is not a great factor to use in determining health. Muscle weighs more than fat, anyway, so even muscular athletes seem to be overweight according to the scale, but in actuality have a low body-fat percentage, which is one of the best means of determining health.
You can eat whatever you want if you burn enough calories at the gym. Overall health and wellness are maintained by several factors, two of them being regular exercise and eating healthy. You cannot make up for the 2,000-calorie nachos by putting in a couple of hours at the gym. Our bodies still need the vast and wonderful benefits of consuming healthy whole foods.
No pain, no gain. A little discomfort, such as straining while pushing out those last couple of reps, is usually OK. However, any serious pain should not be taken lightly and should be addressed immediately. Be careful of muscle strains and tears, bone fractures and more. Working out is great for our bodies, but injury is always possible.
At the end of the day, every body is different because everybody is different. Do what works for you when it comes to health and wellness. Don't believe everything you read, see or hear without researching first. The most important practice in health and wellness is self-education and learning what is actually good for health and what is not.
Amanda Oppenheim is a graduate of Stevenson University and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.