Getting ripped, losing weight – debunking the common myths

I need to start by stating that I am not a nutritionist.  I have had a few nutrition classes, I understand the human body but am not a licensed dietician.  The following blog is based solely on experiences from treating over 1000 people and seeing first hand what works and what doesn\’t.  It is that time of year where one of the most common questions I am asked is \”How do I get ripped?\” or \”How can I lose belly/leg/arm fat?\”  And what I realized as I listened to people explain the workout and eating regimine they were on, is that people truly don\’t know.  They don\’t understand, people do not understand food or working out.  People assume it is easy and it is not.  It is once you take the time to understand.

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Myth #1 – Being fat is in my genes.  That guy is ripped it must be genetic.

I hear this constantly.  Well my parents are heavy so I will be too, there\’s nothing I can do.  There is a small kernel of truth to this, a very small kernel.  Your body type, meaning your bone structure and where you gain fat has something to do with genetics.  But the amount of fat you add and the amount of fat you carry on those bones is entirely up to you.  Most likely people learn poor eating habits from their parents and this, yes, can be passed on from genereation to generation but not the amount of fat you carry.  People who are \’ripped\’ are extremely food conscious.  Bland food, not a lot of it and very very very good nutritional content.  People who are able to have well defined muscles often plan all of their meals ahead of time and prepare them accordingly.  They are very very strict eaters as that what it takes to have serious definition.

Myth #2 – I spent an hour on the elliptical so I worked out.

I HATE the elliptical machine.  I think it gives such a false sense of working out.  I walk into gyms at any given time and see people just droning out on these things barely breaking a sweat and thinking they worked out.  And I know I get arguements every time I say this to people on how I don\’t understand, they really do work hard, etc.  I\’m telling you you are wasting your time.  People still have their make up in perfect shape when they get off those machines.  You need to challenge your muscles.  If you want to go and escape and get on the elliptical for an hour, go for it, I have done it myself.  Just don\’t think that you are getting a great workout.  Your muscles need to be stimulated and challenged.  The fact of the matter is you can do a better workout in 20-30 minutes than wasting an hour on the elliptical.  Click here for an example of a good workout that challenges your muscles.

Myth #3 – I need to diet.

One of the worst words in the English language – diet.  In Webster\’s dictionary the definition of diet should be failure.  Period.  You don\’t need to diet.  You need to change you lifestyle.  You need to make changes, permanent changes that you will be able to carry on for the rest of your life.  If you aren\’t comfortable making certain changes then don\’t.  Every 10 years the latest fad diet comes through, first it was fat free everything then it was low carb everything.  Now we are all waiting for the next latest and greatest thing.  Well it is already here and it has never left, moderation.  That\’s the only diet trick you need to know, moderation.  Learn to eat everything in moderation and you can eat whatever you want.  Do you like pizza?  Having a slice of pizza for lunch once a week is fine.  You won\’t gain weight and most likely it is less calories than what you are already eating.  But that\’s it, that\’s your lunch.  One slice of pizza.  Most people have a hard time with that.  Like ice cream?  Have a scoop, ONE scoop, once a week, enjoy it.  Have the pizza on Tuesday and ice cream on Wednesday.  Nothing wrong with that.  Because at the end of the day if you ate moderately that day it will fit nicely in your calorie count.

Myth #4 – You shouldn\’t count calories.

This is the only thing you should do.  If you are trying to gain muscle mass or \’get ripped\’ then you should be counting calories but also counting protein intake.  But if your only goal is to lose weight the only thing you need to worry about is counting calories.  Period.  Do not focus on fats, carbs, sugars etc.  If you stick to a calorie goal you will lose or gain weight (depending on your goal), no matter what.  Now this is very very tricky for people but now that we have an app for that, it has gotten easier.   People get frustrated and overwhelmed by all the information we are fed through TV and the internet.  The bottom line is ignore it.  If you want to get ripped.  Up your protein intake drastically.  If you want to lose weight set a calorie goal, most likely in the 1500 a day ball park range and stick to it.  There are several apps for counting calories and you would be shocked at how fast they add up.  People underestimate how many calories they eat in a day.  I once had a patient tell me that she was on a \’diet\’ and went to Rita\’s but she was good and didn\’t have any ice cream or water ice instead she ate 3 soft pretzels.  3 soft pretzels from ritas = approx 400 calories a piece or 1200 calories total.  A LARGE custard from Rita\’s approx 400 calories.  Almost an entire days calories for dessert!  And she genuinely thought she did well.  So it\’s like I said people don\’t realize how many calories they consume.  A snack here, a handful of this there and calories add up quick.  And make sure you count each drink you have, that is not water, those count as calories too and can add some serious numbers to the end of the day total.

Myth #5 – I should be able to look like the people in magazines.

First of all you need to understand most of them are air brushed. I know this is hard to tell your brain as you\’re looking at the perfect body of someone but it is true.  Most people in magazines are perfect, because they are computer generated that way.  If you have ever seen a star in person, it is a far cry from the magazines they are on the covers of.  And I get angry at those magazines who put such pressure on new mothers to get back to a super skinny weight.  That is not reality and should not be strived for.  Sure give me a nanny that gets up with the kids at night and a personal chef to make me a healthy meal of fish and steamed vegetables 3 times a day and I would look like that.  But in reality I am eating easy mac at 10:00 at night because at the time I am hungry and just want food to eat.  That is how most of us are.  Do not put pressure on yourself to look like the magazines, they don\’t even look like that.

Myth #6 – It is not all or nothing.

So many people I know have one \’bad\’ day and completely trash making over their life.  Everyone strives for the 6-pack abs but very few people are willing to eat nothing but dry grilled chicken in order to do it.  Most of us would be happier if we were skinnier or in some cases had more muscle mass.  The answer to this is simple you must makeover your diet and it is not easy and sometimes you fail.  The important part is you don\’t give up when you fail.  You refocus and restart.  So you had a hot fudge sundae tonight instead of one scoop of ice cream.  Let it end there.  Don\’t use that as an excuse to overindulge.  Restart right after that sundae is done.  Don\’t dwell on it, don\’t overthink it, don\’t feel bad about it.  Move on and recommit to eating in moderation the next meal.

Whether your goal is to gain or lose weight, the main point to realize that it is a life style CHANGE and it won\’t change overnight.  It takes practice and sometimes you will have set backs.  The only thing that matters is that you don\’t dwell on the set backs, you start fresh the next meal and move forward on creating the best you.

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