There is so much information about health, diet, and exercise swirling around. Every day, I see articles on my Facebook feed, on the news, and in the publications I read online telling me about a new finding or trend.
Like most people, I want to stay healthy and active not because I want a certain number on the scale, but because I want to go hiking in Park City, Utah when I visit in the summer, climb Diamond Head for the breathtaking Hawaiian views, and kayak between islands in Casco Bay off the coast of Portland, Maine. I don’t believe in saying no to a glass of wine and if you know me at all, resisting chips, salsa, and guacamole is impossible.
In order to maintain a balanced life, I live by a few guidelines. Actually, most of them are myths I have debunked. I wanted to share them with you so you’ll have some filters in place that may help you live a better, balanced life.
Health Truths and Myths
- Most white food is unhealthy. Think ranch dressing, mayonnaise, sour cream, cream cheese, and queso. Many of these foods are filled with chemicals and highly processed. Even plain white potatoes and white rice are simple carbohydrates and are processed in your body just like sugar. When in doubt, leave white out!
- Sugar is sugar is sugar. For example, you can eat a large mango, which has about 46 grams of sugar, or a Snickers bar for less than HALF of the sugar; 20 grams. A mango has vitamin A, C, B6, fiber, and potassium. The nutritional value of a mango is much greater than a Snickers; however, your body responds to the sugar of a mango the same way it responds to the sugar in a snickers (or two). Blood sugar spikes causing insulin levels to rise which tells your body two things: 1. STORE FAT and 2. Let’s party as hard as we can for 45 minutes and then go to sleep. Sugar is your enemy and eating a TON of fruit is just as bad as eating a ton of candy. Green apples or raspberries are great low sugar fruits with good nutrition.
- Protein is good, but too much is a waste. Many people say protein will keep you fuller longer; protein will curb your appetite; protein will help you develop lean muscle. This is all true; however, your body is only using all that protein if you are a bodybuilder (essentially). Most men and women need somewhere between 45-55 grams per day. That shakes out to about 15 grams per meal. If you participate in CrossFit, or consistently lift heavy weights, perhaps you could use more.
- This one is for the ladies…LIFTING WEIGHTS WILL NOT MAKE YOU BIG. When you have more muscle, you burn more fat. Period. Yes, long distance runners (40 or more miles a week) are typically thin; however, unless they supplement with a weight routine, they will lack muscle definition and strength. Weight training makes you stronger, more resistant to typical injuries that occur while doing cardio, and can even help your body fight against age-related muscle loss. Doing a mix of cardio AND weight training will give you the best results. Need any easy routine? Perform compound movements like bench, squat, deadlift, and pull-ups twice each week. Three sets of 10 reps is a starting point.
- Juice is not a health food. My grandfather used to drink a large glass of Sunny D every morning and swear he was immune against the common cold because of it. If you are trying to get vitamin C, try one of these vegetables that have MORE vitamin C than an orange: Any color of bell pepper, kale, broccoli, or brussel sprouts.
- One diet and exercise program will never trump another. There are so many options. 5:2 diet, carb cycling, low carb, Weight Watchers, gluten free, organic, juicing, Volumetrics, South Beach (yeah, it’s still a thing), Paleo… I could go on. Don’t buy into one thing. I know people who truly believe their way is the only one way to eat and exercise and quite honestly it’s HIGHLY annoying, mainly because it’s a LIE. Examine your life, your habits, your sleep and be honest about who you are and what you can do. Then pick something and stop making excuses and don’t project your choice onto someone else.
- Organic is not always worth the money. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and The Environmental Working Group (a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy group for human health and the environment) found foods like cantaloupe, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, onions, mangos, asparagus, and avocados all contained little to no pesticide residue and were considered as safe to eat as their organic counterparts. Check out the the shopper's guide to pesticides in produce to see what to buy organic and what you can save money on. Meat and dairy are a very different issue. Buying organic meat and dairy actually ups the nutritional value of what you are eating by about 50% according to a new meta-analysis published in February of 2016, in the British Journal of Nutrition.
Some are scared to lift weights because of bulk. Others drench their salads in ranch dressing. Many munch on mangos instead of Snickers, thinking they’re making a healthy choice. It’s tough keeping up with what’s real and what’s hype. Hopefully these seven myths make a difference in your journey toward becoming your best self.