Weight training is an enormously beneficial activity for men and women alike. It burns fat, protects against osteoporosis, improves posture, prevents age-related loss of muscle, and helps maintain healthy blood sugar control. Unfortunately, many women are scared away from this extremely beneficial activity due to a number of highly misleading myths.
Ladies, today I’m going to blow these myths out of the water so you can go ahead and start lifting your way to a leaner, firmer, healthier, and sexier body!
Myth 1: Weight Training Makes Women Look Like Men
When women think of weight training, they typically conjure up images of professional female bodybuilders strutting masculine-looking physiques on a contest stage. Understandably, a lot of women simply do not consider bulging muscles, razor sharp definition, and a network of veins reminiscent of a road map as attractive and feminine traits.
Ladies, please know that if you do not intend to become a competitive bodybuilder, your chances of looking like this are somewhere between zilch and zero. Regardless of what bodybuilding magazines would have you believe, the vast majority of professional female bodybuilders are using anabolic steroids. In their natural state, even the most athletic women simply do not produce the amount of muscle-building testosterone that healthy males do. And without male-like levels of testosterone, it’s nearly impossible to build a male-like body. Testosterone plays such a critical role in muscle growth that even men with deficient levels of testosterone have a hard time building large muscles!
The other thing to remember is that the pictures of female bodybuilders you see in magazines are typically taken at contest time. Since one of the judging criteria is muscle definition, these women have dieted down to extremely low body fat levels. By shedding so much fat, their physiques take on a hard, striated appearance that few women would consider feminine, even on someone with relatively small muscles.
However, this incredibly lean condition is maintained for only a very brief period. Bodybuilders slowly diet down to very low body fat percentages, strut their stuff on contest day, then promptly return to a more normal body fat level after the contest is over by increasing their caloric intake.
Most of the women I train and consult with do not want rock hard, super lean physiques. Nor do they want flabby physiques that bulge in all the wrong places. Instead, they want a body that resides somewhere between these two extremes: a body that looks firm, toned, shapely and healthy.
Guess what? The very best method for getting such a body is weight training. No other form of exercise can tone muscles so quickly. No other form of exercise allows you to shape and sculpt your body into a symmetrical masterpiece. For example, do you have wide hips, carrot-shaped thighs, and narrow shoulders? No problem start doing weight training exercises that emphasize your shoulders and lower thighs, and watch as your hips begin to “appear” smaller and smaller! Do you have a flat saggy butt that seems to have given up in the fight against gravity? Don’t worry several weeks of dedicated squatting, lunging and dead lifting will quickly turn that problem around!
The bottom line is that your body contours can be dictated by either fat or muscle. Which would you rather have?
Myth 2: Muscle Turns Into Fat When You Stop Weight Training
This is the bit where even the most serious scientists can’t help but burst out laughing. You simply cannot turn muscle into fat. It is as likely as transforming a block of cheese into a bar of gold. Muscle and fat are two entirely different entities with starkly different functions and structures. You simply cannot turn one into the other.
Despite the utter absurdity of this myth, it just refuses to die.
Here’s what will happen if you stop weight training. First of all, your muscles will gradually lose their attractive toned look. An intelligently implemented weight training routine is a lifelong endeavor, not a quick fix. The benefits last only as long as you keep training.
Depending on your dietary habits, you may also gain some fat due to the reduced calorie expenditure that occurs after you stop training. Again, the answer is simple. Keep training and eating right! That way, you’ll keep reaping the immense benefits that weight training has to offer.
Myth 3: Women Don’t Need to Do Weights. They Get All the Benefits they Need from Walking, Jogging or Aerobic Classes
Aerobic activities cannot even begin to replicate the effects of weight training. As mentioned, weight training is unrivaled in its ability to build muscle and strength. Aerobic activities simply cannot provide the same level of progressively increasing resistance that tones and strengthens muscles. In fact, an excess of aerobic activity can cause loss of precious muscle tissue; compare the stringy, emaciated physique so typical of marathon runners with the far more attractive and athletic-looking physiques of sprinters.
Furthermore, most popular aerobic activities tend to work the lower body but place no meaningful stress on the upper body. Don’t settle for an attractive set of legs but a flabby set of upper arms that jiggles in a most unflattering manner whenever you wear sleeveless outfits!
One very important benefit of weight training is its ability to fight off potentially debilitating loss of bone. Similar to muscle, bone loss worsens with age, and bone fractures are a common cause of debility and death in elderly citizens. Weight training has been shown to improve bone density in a manner that aerobic activities simply cannot hope to rival. The reason is that weight-bearing activities cause the tendons of your muscles to pull against bones during lifting. The body’s response is to strengthen your bones, which enables them to more easily withstand future stresses of a similar nature. Further amplifying the bone-building advantage of weight training is the fact that most aerobic activities fail to impose any significant resistance upon the upper body.
An optimal fitness regimen includes both weight training and cardiovascular activities. Both have their unique benefits so don’t neglect either of them!
Most women do not even begin to appreciate the huge advantages that weight training can bestow. An intelligently implemented weight routine is a key component in achieving a strong physique that radiates a healthy, toned appearance. So ladies, start hitting the gym and become the envy of all your friends who still believe the erroneous myths about women and weight training!
[Ed. Note: Anthony Colpo is an independent researcher, physical conditioning specialist and author. Learn more about Anthony's latest book, The Fat Loss Bible, by clicking here. ]
By Dr. Matthew Anderson
Holiday season is fat season. Comfort food abounds and so does stress. It’s a dangerous and fattening combination. Research shows that the average person gains a couple pounds this time of year. But with a few tough-minded guidelines, you will get through the next few weeks without having to go to a larger dress or pant size.
1. Do not try to lose weight during the holidays. Simply staying the same weight will be a great accomplishment.
2. Expect the Fat Season to be tough. Plan for it.
3. Find and use daily support for eating properly. Weight loss is best done with the help of a support system, particularly during a stressful time. If you attempt to go it alone you will probably fail.
4. Pay attention to emotional family issues. Holidays usually mean family and this means that any unresolved family issues will emerge and create strong emotions in you. Then you will eat to “kill” these emotions and get fatter. If you identify these issues prior to family gatherings you will be better prepared to manage the feelings they generate. If you simply walk into family gatherings unaware of the emotional land mines that cover the ground, you can count on having your diet plan blown to bits.
5. Tell family members that you are working hard to lose weight and that you want their cooperation. Ask them to provide alternative foods for you and to resist the urge to tempt you to eat fattening foods.
[Ed. note: Dr. Matthew Anderson is an author (The Prayer Diet), counselor (35 years) and national columnist/expert on weight loss, motivation, self-management and relationships. To find tough-minded, outside-the-box guidance for taking charge of your life and/or your weight,click here. ]
By Shane Ellison
Food labels that scream “fat free” have been a goldmine for the food industry since 1993. They have also hoodwinked millions of unsuspecting victims. Overweight people seek out these labels in the hope of waking up skinny. It never happens. But that doesn’t stop them from getting ensnared over and over again. I can hear their rationale: “I’m fat, so I should eat fat-free foods.” Wrong.
After the fat is removed, sugar is added. Sugar is great if you’re at a birthday party, but that’s it. It is nothing more than fat fertilizer and a heart attack waiting to happen. Look for it listed as sucrose, dextrose or cane sugar on the labels of your favorite foods. Then buy something else like an all-natural food high in healthy fat.
Healthy fat, which you can find in grass-fed beef, seeds, nuts, avocados, and eggs, is essential for proper growth, development and the maintenance of good health. It provides your body with vital energy without causing you to gain weight. In sharp contrast to carbohydrates, sugar and trans-fats, healthy fats tell your body to burn fat and make you feel fuller quicker. Add them to your grocery list. And forget the fat-free labels.
[Ed. Note: Shane Ellison is known as "The People's Chemist." He holds a Master's degree in organic chemistry and has first-hand industry experience with drug research, design and synthesis. He is the author of Health Myths Exposed and The Hidden Truth About Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs. Get his FREE Life-Saving Health Brief by clicking here. ]
By Jesse Cannone
Each year millions of people struggle with lower back pain. Unfortunately, many of them suffer unnecessarily.
The surprising reason for this is that most of the treatments that patients receive only address the symptoms of back pain. And while treating the symptoms can provide some pain relief, it is often only temporary. If you want to get lasting relief, you have to look deeper than just the symptoms or even the condition.
The Two Words that are Keeping You in Pain
If you suffer from lower back pain, or any other physical condition or injury for that matter, I am willing to bet that you have never heard these two words from the mouth of your doctor, physical therapist or other health care provider.
So what are these two mysterious words? Muscle Imbalances.
See, what most people don’t realize is that lower back pain is typically a process, meaning it develops over time. While people tend to attach it to an incident like shoveling snow, sneezing or picking up a box, the fact is the problem has been there for months or years but you are just now aware because there’s now pain.
Here’s what happens…
Over time, various muscle groups in our body become out of balance. One muscle gets stronger while the opposing muscle gets weaker. This imbalance pulls our bones, joints and spine out of alignment. These muscle imbalances force our body to function in a dysfunctional way and this places excessive, uneven and unnecessary strain and wear and tear on our muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones, cartilage and spinal discs.
While we can function with the imbalances, it usually isn’t long before the body breaks down. A good analogy is to think about your car. What happens when your steering is out of alignment? Your car pulls to one side and the tires wear down unevenly. If you don’t deal with the underlying problem, eventually you’ll have a blow out. Well the same is true for your body.
The real key to eliminating lower back pain (or any other ache, pain or injury) is to start at the beginning and that means you need to identify and address the underlying cause, which is almost always muscle imbalances. You can do this by consulting with a fitness trainer or other health care professional who can then lead you through guided exercises to remedy your muscle imbalances.
So if you are dealing with lower back pain, or any other condition, I suggest you make identifying your muscle imbalances your number one priority and once you do, you’ll be on your way to lasting relief.
[Ed. note: Jesse Cannone is a certified fitness trainer, rehabilitation specialist and co-founder of the Healthy Back Institute. His bestselling "Lose the Back Pain" system has helped thousands of people with underlying muscle imbalances eliminate their back pain for good. Jesse is a recognized expert in the treatment of back pain and has been featured on major TV news programs, radio programs, magazines like Woman's World and Entrepreneur and on leading website like Spine-Health.com, Ediets.com and About.com. For more information on his "Lose the Back Pain" system, click here. ]
By Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS
Blind women don’t get breast cancer or at least their risk for breast cancer is substantially less than sighted women. And the reason has to do with two things: light and a hormone called melatonin.
Most people who have heard of melatonin know it as a supplement that can help with sleep (more on that in a moment). And that it’s great for jet lag. But the melatonin story is alot more interesting and complicated than its ability to serve as a natural cure for insomnia. Melatonin may have a role in protecting you against cancer. It also supports the immune system and is one of the most powerful antioxidants we know of.
Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland, a gland in the brain that helps regulate circadian rhythm. It’s actually made along the same metabolic assembly line as serotonin. Both start out as the amino acid tryptophan, which then gets converted into 5-HTP and then to serotonin. Two more steps along the pathway and you’ve got melatonin.
Melatonin is stimulated by darkness, and turned off by light. One reason scientists believe that the risk for breast cancer is lower in blind women is that they have less exposure to light and presumably more melatonin. We don’t know for sure if that’s true, but we do know that in one study(1), scientists grafted human breast cancer tumors on to rats and then exposed them to blood taken from women during darkness and after exposure to light. The blood taken during darkness slowed the growth of the cancers by a whopping 80 percent; meanwhile the blood taken after light exposure accelerated it.
Then there’s melatonin’s most famous use helping regulate sleep. Melatonin helps set the brain’s internal clock. It’s terrific for jet lag and for anytime that your sleep cycle is artificially disrupted. A good deal of research shows that melatonin is useful for insomnia, though there’s some debate about which is best regular melatonin or the time-released kind. The immediate release kind might be more effective for decreasing the time it takes to fall asleep, but the time release kind might be better for improving sleep quality and maintenance.
If all these benefits weren’t enough, melatonin is one of the most potent antioxidants known. It’s believed to be many times more effective at protecting cell membranes than vitamin E, and more effective than glutathione (one of the body’s antioxidant stars) at neutralizing one of the most dangerous of the free radicals hydroxyl radicals. And on top of it, melatonin supports immune function in a variety of ways.
Melatonin may interact with certain medications, especially benzodiazepines, antidepressants, and CNS (central nervous system) depressors like alcohol. Don’t take it and drive.
If you’re going to try melatonin for a better night’s sleep, start with 3 mg right before bedtime, though you may find 6-10 mg more effective.
[Ed. Note: Dr. Bowden is a nationally known expert on weight loss, nutrition and health. He's a board certified nutrition specialist with a Master's degree in psychology. Dr. Bowden is also a life coach, motivational speaker, former personal trainer and author of the award-winning book, Living the Low Carb Life. For more information, click here. ]
Recipes & Nutrition:
By Kelley Herring
This delicious dessert is lower in calories, carbs and sugar, thanks to a cutting-edge, all-natural sweetener called erythritol. Erythritol is a “sugar alcohol” that requires no insulin to metabolize and has no impact on blood sugar. This makes it perfect for weight watchers and diabetics alike. You can use erythritol cup for cup just like sugar in your favorite recipes.
Time to Table: 40 minutes
Healing Nutrient Spotlight
Good source of fiber
1 cup Kashi Organic Promise Autumn Wheat cereal
3/4 cup organic rolled oats
1/3 cup organic whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp organic cinnamon
1 organic, omega-3 egg
1 organic egg white
1/3 cup organic, expeller pressed canola oil
2/3 cup organic erythritol (try ZSweet)
1/3 cup organic walnuts, chopped
1/3 cup dried, unsweetened organic cranberries
1 tsp organic vanilla
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, combine whole-grain cereal with rolled oats, flour, flax seeds, walnuts, cranberries, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Set aside. In a food processor, add yogurt, egg, egg white, oil, erythritol, and vanilla extract and process until smooth. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and mix well. Pour batter into a lightly oiled 13 x 9 baking dish. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool, cut into squares and serve.
176 calories, 10 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat, 4 g monounsaturated fats, 4 g polyunsaturated fats, 18 mg cholesterol, 120 mg sodium, 20 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 6 g sugars, 4 g protein