Women are obsessed with dieting and weight loss – it’s just the way we were programmed. We are always on the lookout for the next “miracle plan” that will help us lose weight overnight.
How many times have you tried the juice diet, the grapefruit diet, the egg diet or the cabbage soup diet? How much money have you spend on coffees and pills that promise amazing results in just a couple of weeks?
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Did any of those things give you the results it promised?
Sure, you lost 3kg in one week – but will you be able to sustain that type of diet? Can you really just eat eggs or cabbage for the rest of your life? Because let’s face it – once the cabbage leaves the kitchen, the kilos will pile back on and you’ll trawl the Internet once again in search of the next diet that promises instant results.
You don’t need a miracle diet to lose weight, you just need to let go of these common weight loss and fitness myths that are most likely derailing your journey to a slimmer, fitter you.
Myth 1: You have to do a lot of cardio to lose weight
If you’ve been putting off your weight loss journey because the thought of spending hours on a treadmill or spinning bike fills you with dread, you’ll be relieved to hear that static cardio (running, cycling, etc) is not essential for weight loss.
While it does help to burn fat, which leads to weight loss, there are other things you can do to slim down faster and burn more calories.
Strength training is a great example as it builds lean muscle mass, which not only increases your metabolism, but also decreases fat. Some strength training workouts can even double as cardio.
Coupling a well rounded strength training routine, with slower cardio (55-65% of max heart rate) which falls into the fat burning zone is ideally what you’d like. In saying this, I also feel adding in some high intensity functional training is also a great option.
Myth 2: Weight training will make me bulky
This is one of the main reasons why women don’t want to do strength training. We’re worried that we will look ‘manly’ or end up with a ‘Hulk-looking’ muscular physique. These types of muscles can be achieved, but only if that is your goal and specific training and dietary needs are put in place.
Women don’t have the levels of testosterone to create the big muscular physique you see in men. Having a lean build will increase your metabolism which will in turn burn fat faster. By lean muscles I don’t mean bulging biceps. It is the toned arms, legs and abs we often admire on movie stars and the models that appear on fitness magazine covers.
When it comes to weight training for women (who don’t want to build big muscles), you should ideally be training in the 12 – 15 repetitions range with a weight that is challenging so the last 2 – 3 reps are a struggle. It’s important to use a weight that is heavy enough to force changes in your muscles.
Most of the time, women, and men, who are incredibly bulky from weight training look that way because of a high volume of training, genetic predisposition, and a nutritional programme that has been designed for muscle growth.
Myth 3: Skipping meals will help you to lose weight faster
Skipping meals is not an effective weight loss strategy and will lead to you overeating in the end because you are so hungry. We also tend to eat unhealthy foods when we reach a certain level of hunger.
Skipping breakfast or lunch so you can have a big dinner can also cause your metabolism to slow down, which can cause weight gain or make it harder for you to lose weight. It’s important to follow a balanced diet.
Instead, aim to eat 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day. When I say meals, these aren’t necessarily plated meals each time. These include snacks throughout the day as well.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that if you snack in between meals, you won’t lose weight. But, snacking at correct times helps keep the metabolism regulating.
Example Ladies Diet Plan:
Breakfast: 30g Low carb muesli with ½ cup strawberries and small double cream or full cream plain/Greek yoghurt.
Another breakfast option could be 2 eggs, a slice of wholewheat toast with half an avocado.
Mid Morning Snack: 50g Lean Biltong
Lunch: Protein (steak, fish, chicken) with green beans or salad and half a sweet potato, or brown rice.
Afternoon Snack: 25 almonds (Handful)
Dinner: Protein (steak, fish, chicken) with green vegetables or salad. No carbs at night.
Myth 4: Low fat or fat-free foods will help with weight loss
It’s the first thing we do when we decide we’re going on a diet – we reach for the low fat or fat-free options. Two common misperceptions about dairy are that full-cream milk is very high in fat and that sugar is added to low-fat and fat-free milk. This is, however, not the case.
Compared to other foods (eg. boerewors with 32% fat, hamburger with 30% fat, and a bar of chocolate with 20–30% fat), full-cream milk contains much less fat (3.4%) than commonly believed.
In low fat and fat-free milk, only fat has been removed along with some vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin. Nutritionally, low fat and fat-free milk contain comparable amounts of protein, carbohydrate and calcium, and is a good choice for people who are overweight, diabetics, or have high blood pressure.
The carbohydrates indicated on the label refers to the lactose (milk sugar) in milk. It is important for us to know and appreciate that the dairy industry is very tightly regulated. For example, dairy farmers are not allowed to add anything to milk, not even sugar. Further to this, dairy processors may not use the milk of cow’s that are being treated with antibiotics.
The choice between full-cream, low-fat and fat-free dairy is an individual thing and a matter of taste. If dairy contributes little to your diet, it probably doesn’t matter whether you opt for full-cream or fat-free. Should you want to reduce your calorie intake, the low-fat or fat-free versions are more suitable.
About the author:
Xanet is an award-winning journalist, who has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles including being a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009. She fell in love with fitness in 2013 when she started her weight loss journey. Having lost almost 20Kg’s and 20% body fat she understands how to be fit and healthy while still enjoying your life and having that glass of wine and cupcake when you crave it.