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Health: Weighing in on Fitness Goals

Health: Weighing in on Fitness Goals

Written by: Sabina Anna Rebis, MS, MD, SUNY Stonybrook Family Medicine, Resident Physician

With the simmering summer days just around the corner, many are hitting the gym and the running trails to get in shape. If you’re worried about keeping your waistline in check, don’t let these common weight loss myths deter you from your goals!

Myth #1: Extra weight just runs in the family.

Reality Check: Heritability is certainly not 100% destiny. It actually really is all about math. While it’s true that some may be more predisposed to emotional eating patterns and weight gain, a lot of those factors are based on the surrounding environment, and not necessarily genes that lead to a high body mass index. If mom and grandma are both overweight, it is more likely due to similar eating habits or psychological triggers that persist in the environment.

The solution: Identify key environmental factors that are contributing to weight gain and ax the hopeless idea that it’s all just genetic.

Myth #2: Eating more fruits and veggies will result in weight loss.

Reality Check: Incorporating fruits and veggies into your meals won’t get you anywhere if you don’t also give up the bad habits. Many believe that adding an apple or a salad into their day will equate with results, but this is only true if done in conjunction with cutting out the extra sugar, and squeezing in at least 2-3 hours a week at the gym.

Myth #3 Thou shall not snack.

Reality Check: Grazing on healthy snacks like celery, carrots, or grapes may prevent you from a late night binge by keeping blood sugar levels stable. Try frozen grapes, frozen bananas or even frozen yogurt if you’re craving something sweet.

Myth #4: It’s better to set realistic weight loss goals, rather than ambitious ones.

Reality Check: Studies have shown that more ambitious goals can result in better outcomes. Attempts to improve weight loss outcomes by shifting expectations to lower weight loss goals did not result in pounds shed. This means that setting bigger goals can actually set you up to work harder, reaching smaller goals faster.

Myth #5: Those looking to lose weight and commit to a healthy lifestyle need to be ready to commit on all fronts.

Reality Check: Let’s face it, readiness goes out the window when you’re a week into a sugar-free lifestyle and craving a cookie. Readiness does not predict the magnitude of weight loss or weight loss program adherence. In a number of studies, there was no major difference in weight loss in those who were gung-ho about it on day one, and those who were on the fence. Procrastinators, time to jump in and just do it.

Myth #6: Physical-education classes play an important role in reducing or preventing childhood obesity.

Reality check: Weekly physical education classes have not been shown to reduce or prevent childhood obesity. Studies show that even specialized programs were ineffective in reducing BMIs, especially if the home environment did not focus on healthy eating habits. There is definitely a level of physical activity that would be effective in reducing rates of obesity, but in its current state the school curriculum does not meet that dose–response relationship.

The solution? Get involved in your kids’ fitness education outside of the classroom. Find a sport they can get involved in after the dismissal bell, or make a commitment to a weekly family friendly fitness class.

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