I'm not an expert on fitness – not by a long shot. But I am interested in health and fitness is part of healthy living. I've never been great at being consistent with exercise. I have a pattern of starting some kind of routine and then sticking with it for a couple of days before I get bored. I suspect I'm not the only one with this issue!
I've learned that there are some people who enjoy working out for the sake of working out (or at least have the will power and desire to just do it consistently) … but I'm not one of them. What works much better for me is to fit exercise in around things that I already do – running to the post office to get the mail, for example. Wearing my baby while I clean to keep him happy and get strong!
The best part of using this approach to exercise more is that it doesn't take up any extra time. And that's one of the biggest myths about fitness that I believed for a long time – “I don't have time to exercise.” It's not the only one, though – there are a lot of commonly held beliefs about fitness that just aren't accurate when you really take a look! Here are some that I've encountered:
Myth #1: “I don't have time to exercise.”
About 30 minutes or so per day of exercise can do dramatic things for an otherwise sedentary person's health. And as busy as anyone is, a half hour usually isn't impossible to carve out.
Even when you are going through a particularly busy season, it's still doable (and still important!). A few things I have started doing successfully (though not perfectly) are:
Running to the P.O. and back to get the mail. It is a very quick run, but I'm a total beginner so it has been a completely perfect start! It takes no extra time and in fact saves me time since it is something I do anyway and I'm doing it faster. Also, knowing that it's so short and so quick makes it hard for me to talk myself out of it. 🙂 I look forward to running longer distances when it's not colder than death outside.
Wearing Timothy Noah around in a wrap carrier while I clean and work. He's teething and fussy and wants to be held anyway, so wearing him keeps him content while I get stronger by carrying him. I used a bit of extra time at first doing this, but have gotten used to doing things while wearing him and don't feel like I'm any slower at all now.
Standing while working on the computer. Have you heard of this? Some offices are encouraging workers to stand by installing standing desks to combat obesity. Well, I do it sometimes at home too. Except with my freezer (it's the perfect height). I don't stand while working all the time but when I do I'm certain I save time because I seem to focus better.
Do all these things add up to the amount of exercise necessary to be healthy? Not for me… and probably not for most people. But it's a good place to start if you feel like you don't have any time. There are probably a lot of things you do every single day that you can adjust or otherwise fit exercise in around.
Myth #2: “I can't afford the gear.”
Yes, exercise equipment is pretty expensive. That's not really the myth. The myth is that we need all that stuff in the first place. You don't need much to get in shape! A good pair of shoes is really all that's necessary, and even that is negotiable depending on what kind of exercise you like to do.
There are all kinds of exercises you can do that use no gear whatsoever, or that use stuff you probably already have. Zen Habits offers a guide to designing your own minimalist workout plan. Using less workout equipment is green too! Just like anything that involves using less.
Even if you're really wanting to get some sort of machine or piece of equipment, you can search Craigslist or ask around to buy used and get a good deal. When buying used fitness equipment, though, you would definitely want to make sure that everything is in working order and that it doesn't need any repairs, of course!
Myth #3: “I have a long, long way to go to be at a healthy weight.”
I don't know if this is a myth for everyone. But it was for me. The way I was thinking about health was totally wrong. I had thoughts like “XXX is a healthy weight for me.” And so I thought that until I see THAT number on the scale, I must be unhealthy.
Weight is totally weird! I have one friend who is the same height as me and at one point we also wore the same size – but she was 20 pounds lighter than me! Does this mean she was healthier than me? Not really – we just have totally different body compositions. I naturally have a lot of muscle, especially in my legs. Muscle weighs a lot more (and makes your body use more energy) than fat.
The point is, you can be healthy at a higher weight than you probably think if you, like most women in our society, have been bombarded with images of celebrities and models your whole life.
How you feel is a much better indicator of health than how you look.
Myth #4: “I can't keep track of all the supplements and what they're supposed to do and when to take them and what's necessary and what's a scam and what Dr. Oz recommends and -“
Similar to workout gear and equipment, you don't really need any of this stuff. A lot of the shakes and supplements and stuff have their place and can be useful in certain situations, but they are totally not a necessity for most people! I see most supplements fit one of these categories:
Weight loss/fat burning
And you'll also see all kinds of bars and stuff to, many of which claim to be have “optimal nutrient ratios” for building muscle or losing weight – even though there is no one perfect percentage of nutrients for perfect health.
The marketing behind a lot of these products is pretty disturbing. Since men and women alike are conditioned from birth to be very conscious of how their bodies look in this day and age, it's not very hard to use predatory marketing to sell products that promise to deliver something “better” – it's the same as what you see in the beauty industry.
Am I saying you should never buy any of this stuff and it's all a big scam? No – some of these things can be helpful! For example:
Whey protein powder is the quickest and easiest form of protein to grab quick after a workout, which is good for recovery. Eating real food is best, though!
Certain herbal supplements can give you more energy, which can be helpful when you're just starting to work out.
On the topic of protein powder specifically, Barbara Lewin, RD, LD, a dietitian and sports nutritionist who has worked with NFL, NBA, and NHL athletes, shares a few instances protein powders have the advantage on WebMD:
When you’re growing. A teenager needs more protein to fuel his workouts because his body is still growing and uses more protein in general.
When you’re starting a program. If working out is new to you and you’re trying to build muscle, you’ll require more protein than you normally would.
When you’re amping up your workouts. If you normally work out for half an hour a few times a week, but now you’ve decide to train for a half-marathon, your body will need more protein.
When you’re recovering from an injury. Athletes with sports injuries frequently need more protein to help them heal.
If you’re going vegan. People who pursue a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle eliminate a number of common protein sources from their diet, including meat, chicken, and fish, and sometimes dairy and eggs as well.
The article states, “Most people, even athletes, can also get everything they offer by eating sources of lean protein like meat, fish, chicken, and dairy products.”
If you're letting certain beliefs stop you from getting started with fitness and getting more exercise, I encourage you to look further into those beliefs to find out if they're actually true. There are just too many “smoke and mirrors” with the over-polluted marketplace that is the fitness industry to just trust what you hear.
Did anything in this article surprise you? What myths have you held when it comes to fitness?
Kylie Wiser is an herbalist specializing in skincare and women's health. She shares recipes and resources on Everblossom to help others live a more holistic lifestyle. She lives in Fargo, ND with her huge family and lots of houseplants.