Misconception #1— You can spot reduce.
One of the most common questions I hear every week is, "How can I get rid of this?" (As the person grabs a chunk of fat from some obscure place on their body). No, you cannot do side bends or leg lifts or even 1,000 crunches a day and get rid of fat.
No matter how many crunches you do daily, you will not be getting rid of the fat around your abdomen. You will build muscle when you do crunches, but you may need X-ray eyes to see the muscle because it is covered in fat.
That doesn't mean the muscle isn't there, it just means it is hiding. To burn the fat that is hiding that awesome six-pack, you have to do cardio and burn some calories: swim laps, run on the treadmill, ride your bike or hike in the mountains. Anything that raises your heart rate and makes you sweat are good options.
So no matter how many side bends you do, you will not get rid of your love handles unless you do cardio. Shoot for 30-40 minutes, three to four times a week.
Misconception #2 — Women who weight train will look like Arnold.
Not gonna happen. The differences between men and women — besides Mars, Venus, socks on the floor and toilet seats — are that women do not have enough testosterone to be able to build muscle as quickly as men do. We women have just a percentage of what men have, so we will NOT build large muscles easily.
A woman would have to work out for many hours a day and lift extremely heavy weights for this to even be a possibility.
Anyone training for a body-building event can tell you it is like having a full-time job. So women should never shy away from appropriate weight training. It is very important for us to lift weights, and to do so often. There are always exceptions to every rule, but in general we women are safe from looking like Arnold's twin.
Misconception #3— You can work out for 20 minutes then go to get a double cheeseburger and fries.
And last, the questions I get about calorie burn. So many people are confused about how much effort it takes to lose just one pound. Did you know that we have to burn 3,500 calories in order to lose one pound.
I know, this makes you want to bang your head on the table, but it's true. A better way to think about it is to cut 500 calories a day for one week. This will equal 3,500 calories.
That can be cutting three regular sodas or applying some portion control at each meal every day. It can be done. Educate yourself about fitness before you start by reading what you can on fitness, talking to trainers, or talking to friends who have been successful.
In the exercise and diet world, common sense goes a long way.
Have a question?Ann Angell is the fitness coordinator at the YMCA of Calhoun County.
Send her your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.