Realizing the need for a healthy diet,  proper exercise— and a positive mindset has allowed me to make realistic fitness goals for myself.

My fitness journey was not always smooth. There were some bad habits and misconceptions about my body that kept me from progressing. Realizing the need for a healthy diet,  proper exercise– and a positive mindset has allowed me to make realistic fitness goals for myself. So, here are a few of my “mythconceptions.”

Mythconception 1: It’s all in the weight.

THEN: The weighing scale was the ideal measure of how “fat” I was.

There was a time in college, when I dropped down to 104 lbs. That was very much below my ideal weight, yet I seemed to think that I was happy. I was not exercising, and I was on my “see food” diet. Hey, I was still losing weight. Obviously, this would leave my friends in awe. My so-called skinniness did not last long. I noticed that I was experiencing muscle atrophy, which made me initially look slimmer, yet my body was starting to store fat as a response to my lack of regular meals. Soon enough, I was not only putting on the pounds, but also gaining inches.

NOW: Stop the scale-shaming, and measure Body Mass Index and inches instead.

Having a fixation of achieving a number on the scale does not equate to a person’s fitness level.

Measuring your Body Mass Index (BMI) is a more reliable way of measuring a person’s body fat. While the scale can be an initial assessment of a person’s fitness level, making a number on the scale a fixation does not equate to a person being fit. While mathematically a pound of fat does equate to a pound of muscle, the difference lies in their density. Muscles are denser, and occupy less space in the body. So if you have not lost weight (or maybe gained) but have been losing inches in your body, you most probably lost fat and gained muscle!

5 lbs of fat vs 5 pounds of muscle – Muscle takes up less space than fat. Photo taken from Instagram @fitgianna.

Mythconception 2: If you don’t want to get fat, don’t eat.

THEN: I would skip breakfast and have my first meal at about 1-2pm.

I learned this one the hard way. There was a time that my late morning routine was to gym at a fasted state.  This would mean that I probably only had 2 and a half meals per day. By dinnertime, I would have been eating more than I should because I got hungry. I thought that by not eating, I would be ingesting less calories so I could lose weight. In fact, while I was exercising vigorously, I did not seem to be looking leaner and I was actually gaining weight.

I always felt low on energy, which I would misinterpret as hunger. I did end up going to a dietician, who made me take a Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) Test, Thyroid and Blood Sugar Exam. Lo and behold, my metabolism was slower than usual. Choosing to skip meals or eat only a few meals made my body go into starvation mode; hence, more fat was stored. Second and I hate to say it: my blood sugar reached pre-diabetic levels!

I would work out, but not give my body the proper nutrients. This resulted in a slower metabolism and pre-diabetic blood sugar levels!

Choosing to skip meals made my body go into starvation mode; hence, more fat was stored. Second, I became pre-diabetic!

NOW: Use food to keep my metabolism alive and kicking, and to stabilize blood sugar levels.

I have made a commitment to eat every 3 hours until 3 hours before I sleep. This would ensure that my metabolism would constantly be working, and my blood sugar levels would be stable. Since then, my energy level has not only stabilized, but I have also lost the stubborn fats. This has also helped me become more productive. (Coming Soon: How To Portion & Plan Your Meals For Optimal Fat Burning)

Mythconception 3: Lifting weights will make you bulky.

THEN: Strength training would give me a man’s body.

When I originally started, this was one thing that actually stopped me from lifting heavy. I thought that cardio was the best fat buster. I chose to carry light weights with high repetitions to avoid becoming bulky. I was not challenged physically, as I held back on the weights that I decided to lift. While I developed muscular endurance, I was not strong and toned.

NOW: Well, I am Gym Girl Jam. 

In the past 7 years, there is not one day that I regret making the decision to start strength training. Lifting heavy will not make you bulky. Female body builders have taken years of training and specific diets to achieve that kind of aesthetic. More so, men form muscles easier because of their testosterone levels. Having a balanced diet and developing muscles through strength training will not only make you stronger, but it will also make you burn more fat. Having more muscle speeds up your metabolism and makes you burn more fat even at rest.

With this, I do stress the commitment in getting into shape. If you decide to partake on this journey, going to the gym must be paired with a proper balanced diet. I do not mean resorting to yo-yo diets and slimming teas. I advocate having proper nutrition to feed your body with the vitamins and minerals to build lean muscle. Especially for the ladies, if you decide to lift without any care for your diet, do expect to look bulky. But if you are in it with the purest intentions and for the long haul, then let’s get fit!