August 15, 2001

Fitness Expert Phil Kaplan shares some of the most common mistakes that sabotage fitness and weight loss success!

The Following Myths, Fallacies, and False Beliefs can Keep Even Those With the Best of Intentions From Ever Finding the Results They Seek:

Believing That Aerobic Exercise is the Secret To Long Term Weight Loss

Even exercise physiologists are often caught up in the partial view thinking that "aerobic exercise burns fat." The truth is, you might enhance fat release during aerobic exercise, but you can burn fat as fuel anytime you are in an "aerobic state." Aerobic, by definition, suggests that you are meeting oxygen demand. That means any time you are meeting the demand for oxygen you are capable of burning fat. Are you meeting oxygen demand when you drive? Yup. When you read? Uh-huh! When you sleep? You know it! If you learn to balance out supportive eating with result oriented exercise, you can shift your body into a state where it is slowly releasing and burning fat literally ALL DAY LONG! Too much aerobic exercise, or exercising beyond your body's momentary ability to supply fuel, can actually result in a loss of muscle and metabolic slowdown. If you've been on a strictly aerobic program, and neglected the resistance training or supportive eating, it's no wonder you feel as if you failed to get the results you seek. Don't misunderstand me. I don't suggest aerobic exercise is bad. It's vital for enhancing the function of the heart and lungs and for better delivering nutrients to every cell in your body. It's just that it should be viewed as a piece of the overall puzzle, not the solution in and of itself. A slight modification in any exercise program is usually enough to turn this mistake around so improvement is constant and ongoing!

Buying into Infomercial Offers

I'll make this simple. They lie! Infomercials may in fact be selling potentially valuable products, but by making the claims that suggest results will be quick, will be easy, and will be miraculous, they almost always cross the lines of truth and journey into hype and wild exaggeration. You don't NEED any infomercial product. In fact, anything you can buy from an infomercial can be found, perhaps under different label, in other forums where honesty is more likely to be an instrument in the sale. I know it's often tempting to believe. The "shows" are very well produced, but without some "over the top" hype and a very carefully designed enticement known as a "CTA" or "call to action," there's no way an efficacious product can sell in that forum. Contact a qualified fitness professional, preferably one certified by ACE or the NSCA, to guide you in making wise fitness purchases.

Using the Scale as A Gauge of Progress

If you haven't read it yet, read my article on Quick Weight Loss. It'll reinforce what I'm about to tell you. The scale is not all that intelligent. You give it far too much power over dictating how you feel about yourself. It can not distinguish between fat and lean body mass. It is in fact possible to lose fat and weight more due to muscle increase. That's actually supportive of long term fat loss. Even worse, the scale might suggest you're doing "great" on your diet by revealing that your losing pounds, but muscle loss will result in a slowing of metabolism. Judge progress by the way your clothing fits, by your reflection in the mirror, and, if you work with a qualified Personal Fitness Trainer, have your body composition measured in 90 day intervals. Throw away the scale!

Believing the Solution is in a Pill Bottle

The pharmaceutical companies are making a few billion dollars at the expense of those seeking weight loss. Not a single one of the pharmaceutical releases has had any significant impact on reducing obesity. Some, such as Phen-Fen, have resulted in death. Others, addiction. Others have resulted in side effects ranging from intestinal discomfort to organ rejection in transplant patients. The drug companies are researching how they can generate massive profits by creating something that "appears" to aid in weight loss. Whether it does or not is irrelevant.

Fruits and Vegetables Make Up a "Healthy" Weight Loss Plan

Yes, fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, loaded with anti oxidants and valuable phytochemicals, and can certainly provide fuel for energy. A reliance, however, on "fruits and veggies" often puts dieters into a caloric deficit. Because fruits are so water dense and most veggies aren't very high in calories (relative to animal foods, nuts, dairy products, etc.), weight loss is usually imminent, but short lived. Like any calorie restrictive diet, the "healthy fruits and veggies" idea can lead to loss of lean body mass and a deceptive water loss. The minimization of complete proteins in random vegetarian diets often leads to further muscle catabolism (the body begins to feed off of muscle tissue for fuel) and over time energy and metabolism decline. Don't get me wrong. Fruits and vegetables are very healthy! It's just that it's far simpler to get all of the valuable nutrients for optimal metabolic function, cell growth, muscle maintenance, and energy when meals contain a supportive balance of proteins and natural complex carbohydrates. It should also be noted that while fruits are indeed healthy, the sugar content can alter blood sugar and decrease the likelihood of fat release. When fruits are ingested with proteins and essential fats, the release of sugars into the bloodstream is slowed. Can you be a vegetarian and be healthy and fit? Of course! You just have to be a bit more educated in how to get the nutrients you remove from your diet when you give up animal foods. There are a great many vegetable based foods and food combinations including soy products, beans, whole grains, and nuts that can work together to fill in the amino acids and minerals that are most often delivered through meats and animal foods. Supplements can also play a valuable role for vegetarians, but a supplement program should be carefully designed by someone highly qualified in nutrition. Bottom line . . . fruits and veggies are not likely to be the mainstay or foundation of a successful weight loss program, although they can certainly be an integral and valuable part of it.

Common Excuses:

"I Can't Eat Healthy, I Eat Out All The Time"

I sometimes spend two weeks on the road and more than half of my meals are in restaurants. Japanese restaurants are wonderful. They usually have lean cuts of chicken and fish (sushi and sashimi), nutritious salads, and many have brown rice. Restaurants are always happy to prepare non-marinated chicken breasts if requested, if baked potatoes aren't available, sliced tomatoes can always serve as a starchy carb, and the vegetable selections can usually be found between choices of fresh salad veggies or steamed side dishes. Egg white omelets are available any place they crack eggs to make breakfast. Oatmeal's a great side. All fine restaurants will grill or broil fish at your request. Once you learn how to order, you can get supportive meals anywhere. With some careful study of the menu and salad bar, you can even get a decent meal at Wendys!!!

I Need Someone To Motivate Me

Most trainers in today's field of "professionals" act as rep counters, yet they thrive on individuals who believe they "need" a motivator. "Four more, three more . . . " How motivating is that? You don't NEED a rep counter. You simply need to get started. Motivation comes from within. As long as you tell yourself you need something external, something outside of your own self-determination to get you into an exercise mode, you'll continue to put it off. If you feel you need some direction, enlist the services of a qualified Professional Fitness Trainer, but view the trainer as a program designer and limit your sessions initially to direction and advice. If you enjoy having a trainer, and find it affordable, by all means continue, but please don't use the absence of a trainer or economical concerns to keep you from taking a walk and buying a couple of pairs of dumbbells that you can use at home. Once you begin to see results, I assure you, motivation escalates daily!

I'm Too Old To Exercise

Nonsense. Exercise simply means moving in a manner that increases blood flow and oxygen delivery and/or challenging resistance for planned periods. If you're capable of walking, you're capable of exercising. Even if you are limited, if you can raise your arms or lift your leg, you can get started. I've worked with clients who reported being in the best shape of their lives in their 50's. I've worked with clients who made incredible results in their 70's and 80's. I've often told the story of the client who made ongoing gains that shocked my entire staff . . . in her ninth decade! I'm thankful that I've had the opportunity to spend time with people such as Jack La Lanne - well into his 80's, a bundle of energy, and more vibrant, fit, and full of a passion for life than most 20 year olds I meet! As a population, if we take some responsibility for movement and nutrition, we can completely redefine the concept of aging. Oh . . . here's the crazy part. Most people who tell me they're too old to exercise . . . haven't even approached 49 yet!

Oh . . . and the frequency of this question motivates me to add one final "mistake" to this update.

Following an intense aerobic exercise session with Weight Training

. . . A Strategy That Can Prove Extremely Self Defeating!!!!

I know many of you in search of fat reduction were taught that your aerobic exercise session warms up the muscles. An often overlooked physiological consideration involves the energy systems at use. When you are in an aerobic state, your body can use fat and/or glucose (sugar stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen). The energy mechanism for anaerobic movement (weight training) is purely glucose (glycogen) driven. If you do your aerobic exercise first, you run the risk of using or expending all available glycogen. Now, when you move to your resistance exercise, there's no fuel in the fuel tank! In order to manufacture glucose to fuel your weight training session, your body may break apart muscle tissue to use specific amino acids as the raw material. That means your intense exercise session can result in muscle loss! If you do your weight training first, your glycogen stores are full, and when you move to your aerobic exercise, fat can be accessed to meet energy demands. If that was complicated, let me make it simple. If you want to preserve muscle and burn fat, do your resistance exercise first. It's OK to do a light intensity aerobic warm-up for five minutes prior to your weight training to increase blood flow, but that should not be considered your aerobic exercise session.

Forget the excuses. Make a commitment to yourself and to the ones you love. Begin a process that takes you right up to The Best You've Ever Been! You can do it! Nobody's going to do it for you . . . take responsibility. Take control. And be prepared for the most empowering dramatically positive experience of your life!


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