Busting fitness myths: Debunking common misconceptions for busy mums

fitness myths

There’s more to losing weight than ditching a big slice of cake for a fruit salad. And there’s more to getting fitter than walking to the shops to get the fruit rather than having Tesco bring it to you. Of course, those are good things to do, but there’s a bit more science involved. And that science often fails to cut through because of a number of fitness myths. To stop misconceptions hampering your healthy lifestyle efforts, here’s what every busy mum needs to know. 

7 fitness myths that need busting!

Running is all about good shoes

Running is a common exercise undertaken by busy mums. It can be scheduled at convenient times, and because you don’t have to book an appointment or specific space there is a flexibility that can be really useful. You do need good footwear, but you should be thinking about increasing your capacity to push your cardiovascular system and increasing your strength to produce greater force with each running stride.

To increase capacity, you need to add interval training to your run programme. The point here is to run for short bursts of uncomfortably fast pace with sufficient recovery to maximise each interval effort.

To increase strength, add in resistance training to your running programme. Resistance training means specific exercises with some form of resistance to increase muscular strength, power, size or endurance. For example, squats, lunges, press ups and planks. By adding in full-body resistance training, you’ll improve your strength to generate more force when you run. You’ll also improve joint resilience and stability to help prevent injury.

Food myth: calorie cutting equals fat loss

When you decrease your calorie intake too much or for too long, your body will hold onto body fat instead of losing it. This is because your body will view the decreased calorie intake as a limit of resources and will decrease your body’s metabolism to conserve energy. 

Your body will also start using other resources for energy (i.e. muscle). This can lead to looking ‘skinny fat’, where you lose weight but also lose muscle tone.

The key to losing body fat is to avoid processed foods and to manage portion sizes. For help managing portion sizes, there is a free guide available that will help you determine the right quantities of protein, fats, fruits, and vegetables you need to consume to lose body fat (no weighing involved!): https://fittolast.co.uk/the-portion-control-guide/

Exercise myth: lifting heavy weights makes you bulky

The idea that lifting heavy weights leads to bulging muscles has been a long-held myth. However, muscles can only be built when weight training is partnered with vastly increased calorie intake. Getting ‘bulky’ means gaining muscle and weight at the same time.

Gaining lean muscle means your weight may not increase but your body composition changes: i.e. your muscle increases while your body fat reduces. Gaining lean muscle means you won’t look bigger. 

So, unless you’re adding an extra 2800plus calories a week alongside your weight training regime, all you’ll get from lifting weights is a lean, strong, healthy body. 

Food myth: carbs are the enemy

Ultra-processed carbs are unhealthy and should be avoided if possible. But, in small quantities, things like brown pasta, brown rice, and other wholemeal items have an important place in a healthy eating regime. 

In addition to providing the daily energy you need to function, carbs are a necessary component to help you maintain lean muscle. When you work out, your body breaks down muscle tissue. When you recover from a workout, your body will build muscle tissue to repair and adapt muscle that has been broken down during the workout. When you build more muscle tissue than you break down, you get stronger. 

So, try and make sure you consume a small amount of unprocessed carbs after your workouts as part of your healthy eating plan. 

Exercise myth: the more you exercise, the fitter you’ll get

Going from not exercising to exercising is obviously a good thing, but if you already exercise and want to improve your fitness, don’t just do more of the same thing. For your fitness to improve, your body needs new challenges to adapt to. Doing the same workout repeatedly means your body won’t change. For example, even if you are increasing your weights every week when resistance training, you’ll need to change the movements you’re doing every 4-6 weeks as well.

Food myth: eating fats makes you fat

Dietary fats have long been the nutritional whipping boy when it comes to the causes of excess body fat. There are some fats that really are bad, namely trans-fats. Trans fats can be found in deep-fried foods, as well as processed cakes and biscuits. These are the ones you want to avoid, and which can contribute to increased body fat, not to mention a host of other health conditions.

But good fats; like butter, nuts, olive oil and avocado; in balanced quantities will help you maintain a lean and healthy physique. These good fats are responsible for helping your body produce hormones, as well as preventing heart disease, and managing blood cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Hormone production is essential because, when you work out, you’re putting pressure on your body to help illicit a small change. That small change is executed through hormones and this is why hormone production is so important.

Exercise myth: just by exercising you can change your body

A common approach to changing your body is to start a fitness programme only. But even if you worked out every day, if you don’t pay attention to your nutrition and your recovery, your results will be limited and short-term. It is healthy and consistent eating habits and effective sleep, not exercise alone, that will yield the largest changes to your body.

You have 168 hours in each week. Three hours should be exercise. Allow 21 hours for preparation of food and eating. And 49 hours (7 hours each night) should be spent sleeping.   

We’re not saying that exercise won’t help the process along. But, to change your body in a lasting way, preparing and eating healthy meals along with quality recovery through sleep, along with a progressive training programme, will always yield a better result than exercise alone.


James Staring is the founder and lead fitness coach at Fit to Last Personal Trainers, which offers a high-end, all-inclusive fitness solution for those who’ve tried everything in the past; crash diets, exercise fads, regular gyms etc., all with little to no success or results. Fit to Last works in partnership with you to create a personalised programme of exercise, nutrition (no calorie counting or weighing) and small, simple lifestyle changes, to keep you on track to your goals, injury free and bursting with energy.  See: www.fittolast.co.uk, Facebook, Instagram.

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