To the contrary, lifting heavy weights is one of the best ways to increase strength while simultaneously improving muscle tone. I've been lifting heavy weights for years, and I don't come close to having Arnold Schwarzenegger proportions.
The truth is, strength-training helps reduce body fat and increase lean tissue. Muscle takes up less space than fat. Muscle is also more metabolically active and, along with diet and the appropriate amount of cardiovascular exercise, will help accelerate your weight loss. The payoff? You'll be leaner, more toned and more defined.
MYTH 2: Women should avoid high-intensity or high-load training.
Women are often encouraged to use only weight machines or small hand-weights with high reps. They're typically encouraged to use limited resistance, such as light dumbbells, in their strength exercises.
Women need to train at intensities high enough to cause adaptation in bone, muscle, cartilage, ligaments and tendons. When exercise intensity provides insufficient stimulus, you'll gain insufficient benefit. Women should perform their exercises at or near the repetition maximum for each. Lifting heavy weights will produce the firm, fit body most women covet.
MYTH 3: I exercise, so I can eat whatever I want.
Honey, please. Exercise is no substitute for poor nutrition. Contrary to popular belief, you cannot exercise poor food choices away in a 30-minute jog on the treadmill.
MYTH 4: You can spot-reduce.
Contrary to the latest infomercial, there is no such thing. Fat is lost throughout the body in a pattern dependent upon genetics, sex, hormones and age. Overall body fat must be reduced to lose fat in any particular area.
MYTH 5: You can turn fat into muscle (and vice versa).
Nope. Fat and muscle are separate types of tissue and not interchangeable. But by gaining muscle mass through strength training, and losing fat with diet and cardiovascular exercise, you can transform your body.
The denser your muscle tissue, the more calories you will burn at a state of rest. For each pound of muscle you create, you will burn an additional 35 to 50 calories a day! A pound of fat, on the other hand, burns 1 to 3 calories a day.
MYTH 6: Weight training makes you inflexible and stiff.
Performed correctly, using a full range of motion, strength-training exercises increase flexibility. Flexibility exercises also should be incorporated into your overall fitness routine.
MYTH 7: Women should do only cardio.
Cardiovascular exercise works the heart and will help burn some fat. It's essential to your overall health, but you'll need some weight training to tone and reshape the body.
MYTH 8: Eliminating carbs from your diet is the best way to lose weight.
The only carbs that need to go are processed, refined products like doughnuts, chips, pretzels, instant-grain products, white rice and white-flour products. The carbohydrates in a wholesome diet should come from vegetables (especially the dark-green, leafy variety) and fruit.
MYTH 9: Eliminating fat is the best way to lose weight.
Essential body fat is an important source of energy for normal bodily functions and especially vital in maintaining heart and immune-system health.
The only fats you need to eliminate are saturated fat (primarily flesh foods) and trans-fats found in processed foods with hydrogenated oils. Up to 30 percent of your calories can come from poly- and monounsaturated oils. Good sources of fat are avocado, peanut butter and olive oil.
But remember, a little dab'll do ya. Fat calories are dense - 9 calories per gram vs. 4 calories per gram for carbohydrates and protein.
Body After Baby Week 6
I have always been a pizza, sushi and chocolate aficionado. Top Tomato Pizza Kitchen and Shiroi Hana in Center City are my two favorite restaurants, and I haven't met a piece of chocolate I didn't like. However, I knew I would have to give those habits the boot if I wanted to successfully slim down post-baby.
Luckily, I've discovered some satisfying substitutes.
First up, pizza.
I love white spinach pizza and decided to do some experimenting at home. Here's the delicious recipe I came up with.
Instead of pizza dough, I use a base of three egg whites in a nonstick pan. I start cooking the egg whites, then add a handful of fresh spinach, an ounce of shredded, low-fat skim mozzarella cheese and 4 teaspoons of ricotta cheese. Mmmm, it's delicious, and a mere fraction of the calories in just one slice of regular white pizza.
For years I was duped into thinking sushi was healthy low-fat eating. So I was shocked when I discovered that some of my favorite sushi rolls were packing more than 500 calories each. Now when I go for sushi, I eat primarily sashimi (fish without rice) with a little seaweed salad. A slice of salmon sashimi is only 33 calories. That's a huge difference from the typical roll.
Now comes chocolate. That's a tough one. However, I have managed to find a chocolate replacement that I can eat every day without guilt.
I've fallen in love with Adora chocolate calcium supplements and treat myself to one every day. Funny, I always forgot to take the regular calcium supplements, but not these.
Kimberly Garrison is a certified personal trainer and owner of One on One Ultimate Fitness in Philadelphia (www.1on1
ultimate fitness.com). Email her at
firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears Thursdays in Yo!