“Busting myths one truth at a time.” ;)

Myth Busted: You have to go hard, workout 6 days a week and give up all your favorite foods to lose weight and keep it off.
Here’s a weight loss success story to motivate you! My client, Clarissa, lost 40lbs in 9 months. And she did this by taking the slow and steady approach to weight loss. Not only is this method healthy and sustainable, but it really allowed her to enjoy the balance in life and not feel too much deprivation. Read it here.

Myth Busted: When you’ve taken a few weeks (or more) off from working out, you should come back with a vengeance and work extra hard right away to make up for it.
If you've been on a "break" from working out for more than a few weeks, please don't just return to your workout with a vengeance.

Don't hit the workout hard and heavy on the first day, picking up exactly where you left off without giving your body a chance to transition from your "off" state back to your "on" state. Here’s why: Read more.

Top 3 Reasons Why Women Should Lift Weights
To lift or not to lift? If you’re still wondering if weight-lifting is going to bulk you up or bring any harm to your body, perhaps the top 3 reasons here could help you decide once and for all. Read it here.

Before you conclude, get your facts straight!
Question for Penny: I don't think I want to ever do exercises like jumping (plyometrics), squats and running up the stairs. I hear it will totally destroy the knees. So I don't know why trainers would even recommend this?

It's almost certain you'll have back problems at one point or another if you're not doing anything relating to these 3 areas: cardiovascular exercise, strengthening and STRETCHING!

When it comes to lower back pain, it is usually what we do not do that cause the problems. Often people attribute sore back to a specific "event" — sure, while a particular movement might be "the straw that broke the camel's back," however, the stage for the injury has in most cases, been set long before the occurrence of the actual triggering event.

Myth Busted: When you are sick with a cold or fever, it’s good to go workout and sweat it off.
The answer here really depends on how you feel. One way to figure it out is to do the “Neck Check”. You “may” continue to exercise while you are sick if you experience symptoms above the neck such as a runny nose, sinus irritation or a scratchy throat.

On the other hand if your symptoms are below the neck, such as in your chest, or if you have a fever and muscle aches, then you are better to refrain from exercise.

Myth Busted: Running on a treadmill puts less stress on your knees than running on asphalt or pavement.
Running is a great workout, but it can impact the knees -- and since it's the force of your body weight on your joints that causes the stress, it's the same whether you're on a treadmill or on asphalt.

The best way to reduce knee impact is to vary your workout. If you mix running with other cardio activities, like an elliptical machine, a stationary bike, or even swimming, you will reduce impact on your knees so you'll be able to run for many more years.

Also, try to be light on your feet when you run. Don’t pound all your weight on the surface when you land or your joints are really going to suffer. Practice landing lightly and roll your feet forward. Yes, it may seem harder to do at first, but you’ll adapt; having better form will be much easier on your knees, keeping them safe and strong for a lifetime of quality mobility.

Myth Busted: Doing crunches or working on an "ab machine" will get rid of belly fat.
While an abdominal workout might help strengthen the muscles around your midsection and improve your posture, being able to "see" your abdominal muscles has to do with your overall percentage of body fat. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a six-pack or a two-pack; if you don't lose the layer of belly fat, you won’t be able to see the muscles hiding under there.

But why can’t doing abdominal crunches help you lose that belly fat?

You can’t pick and choose areas where you’d like to burn fat. So crunches aren't going to target weight loss in that area. In order to burn fat, you should create a workout that includes both cardiovascular and strength-training elements. This will decrease your “overall body fat percentage,” including the area around your midsection. As the layers start to melt away, your hard earned abs will be able to reveal themselves.

Myth Busted: Women and Strength Training: "I'll bulk up."

You won't, in large part because women have only a fraction of the "male" hormone testosterone, which helps promote muscle tissue growth. As a result, women build less muscle mass than men, and they do so at a slower pace. Also, when you strength train, your body will need a bit more energy than usual, and you may feel the need to eat a little more food.

Now, here’s the thing: if you’re not eating the right kinds of foods and portions, and simply eating to satisfy hunger, you could very well gain unwanted pounds and mistake that look of weight gain with “bulking up because of strength training,” but in fact it’s not the strength training that’s “bulking you up,” but more so the not-so-clean foods you were eating or started to eat.

Keep this in mind: a pound of muscle takes up about 18 percent less space than a pound of fat, so as you burn fat and replace it with lean muscle tissue, you'll actually look leaner, not bulkier.

Myth Busted: Yoga can help with “all sorts of back pain”.
The truth is that yoga can help with back pain, but it's not equally good for all types of back pain. If your back pain is muscle-related, then yes, the yoga stretches and some of the positions can help. It can also help build a stronger core, which for many people is the answer to lower back pain.

But if your back problems are related to other problems such as a ruptured disc, yoga is not likely to help. What's more, it could actually irritate the injury and cause you more pain. Instead, talk to a trusted expert who can guide you through strength exercises and stretches that are specific to your condition.

Myth Busted: If you're not working up a sweat, you're not working hard enough.
Sweating is not necessarily an indicator of your rate of exertion. Sweating is your body’s way of cooling itself. You could sit in a sauna and sweat. Or you could stretch in a heated room and your body would sweat buckets. So you see, obviously, it does not mean you’re sweating as a result of working hard and burning up a ton of calories.

On the other hand, it's also possible to burn a significant number of calories without breaking too much sweat: Try taking a very long walk or doing some light weight training.

Myth Busted: As long as you feel “okay” when you're working out, you're probably not overdoing it.
One of the biggest mistakes people tend to make when starting or returning to an exercise program is doing too much too soon. The reason we do that is because we feel “okay” while we are working out. You don't really feel the overdoing it part until a day or two later.

No matter how good you feel when you return to an activity after an absence, you should never try to immediately duplicate how much or how hard you worked in the past.  Even if you don't feel it at the moment, you'll feel it in time. And when that happens, it could take you back out of the game again.

So learn to take it slow, ease in one step at a time, warm up, go through your moves, focus on your form, add a little more the next day, go a little further than you did the last time every time you come back. Give your body a chance to adapt so you can prevent injuries. Your body will thank you.

Myth Busted: Machines are a safer way to exercise because you're doing it right every time.
Although it may seem as if an exercise machine automatically puts your body in the right position and helps you do all the movements correctly, that's only true if the machine is properly adjusted for your weight and height.

Unless you have a qualified coach or trainer or someone (who knows what they’re doing) figure out what is the right setting for you, you can make just as many mistakes in form and function, and have just as high a risk of injury on a machine as if you work out with free weights or do any other type of non-machine workout.

Myth Busted: When it comes to working out, you've got to feel some pain if you're going to gain any benefits.
Of all the fitness rumors ever to have surfaced, experts agree that the "no pain-no gain" holds the most potential for harm.

While you should expect to have some degree of soreness a day or two after working out, that's very different from feeling “pain” while you are working out.

A fitness activity should not hurt while you are doing it, and if it does, then either you are doing it wrong, or you already have an injury.

There’s a difference between working hard feeling a “burn” and working through it feeling a “pain”. Feeling your heart pumping hard, body heating up, and muscles burning are all the “gain” you should feel. The “pain” is not supposed to be part of the equation.

If you’re actually "working through the pain," if it hurts, stop, rest, and see if the pain goes away. If it doesn't go away, or if it begins again or increases after you start to work out, seek a credible professional for help. Don’t deny what you feel and aggravate the pain.