When it comes to health and fitness, it can seem like a bit of a member's-only club. Not only can it be difficult to know what's best for your body when so many sources give you conflicting information, but it can also be intimidating to ask people how to start working toward a healthier lifestyle. We're here to answer some of the most pressing questions about health and fitness for beginners:
"Your body might need what you're craving."
Should I diet?
While it's true that a temporary diet can help you lose weight initially, it's not the best method for sustainable weight loss. Though most of us feel as if re-gaining weight after dieting, or slipping up and breaking our diet, is our fault, Psychology Today reported the the real reason diets aren't sustainable weight-loss methods is because there are metabolic, hormonal and neurological factors that work against us. Rather than focusing on foods that you do and don't allow yourself to eat, try to make an effort to change your approach to food. Eat healthy foods that nourish your body and make you feel good, and don't feel bad about giving in to cravings once in a while. Your body might need what you're craving. If you feel like you need to eat some sweets, your blood sugar levels might be low, so eat a piece of fruit. If you can't stop thinking about a cheeseburger, you might need iron.
What if I just want abs?
Before you can target certain areas of your body, you likely have to lose weight first. After all, your abdominal muscles are always there. They're just covered with a portion of your body's fat deposits. In order to start toning your stomach, you need to work out your entire body and eat a well-balanced diet, low in unhealthy fats and carbohydrates. According to Idea Fit, both strength training and cardio are necessary when it comes to getting your abdominal muscles to show, after getting down to a low percentage of body fat. Once you've shed some weight, you can get ahead on those abs with all of the planks and crunches, but make sure you keep up with your cardio, too.
What happens when I stop exercising?
When you increase your activity level, your body needs more fuel to keep your energy rate up. That fuel comes from the calories you consume. Chances are, when people lead highly active lives, they're eating enough food to make up for those calories lost. However, if you stop exercising, but keep eating the same amount of calories, you'll likely begin to gain weight and lose muscle mass. The Telegraph states that this is where a lot of the misconceptions about muscle turning to fat come from. While muscles certainly require maintenance, that excess fat likely isn't coming from a decrease in activity, but from the calories that are no longer being burned.