Special Report

28 Weight Loss Myths That Pack on Pounds

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6. You can only be happy and healthy if thin

The idea that you can only be happy and healthy if you’re skinny is a dangerous one. Eating can easily become something people feel guilty about, which can make them try unhealthy ways to lose weight, according to Brown. In more severe cases, it may even lead to eating disorders. Research has shown that social interactions, traveling, having friends, meditating, and positive attitude — none of which have anything to do with weight — play a key role in being happy and healthy, she added.

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7. Spot reduction is possible

Spot reduction is the idea that you can target a particular part of the body and exercise in a certain way that would make you lose weight specifically there. “There is no such thing,” Fink said. Working on a certain muscle will only change its shape, but just a little bit, she added. Doing exercises that work several muscle groups is a very efficient way to lose weight — over your entire body. Muscle mass and muscle tissue — wherever it is on the body — burn a lot more calories than fat, even at rest.

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8. You burn enough calories exercising to have a big meal

Wishful thinking and reality get mixed up sometimes. This is especially common in the fitness world. Most people think they burn a lot more calories exercising than they actually do, according to Hirshberg. “The truth is you can’t realistically burn as many calories in one workout as you’d consume in one meal.” So many times people exercise and end up eating more than they should, leading to no weight loss at all or even weight gain.

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9. Eating a lot of fruit leads to weight gain

Not even fruits can survive being blamed for gaining weight. The culprit in fruit is sugar. Fruits do contain sugar — that is not refined or processed. They also contain a lot of fiber, which the body needs. Fiber keeps you full for longer, which is beneficial for weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight. “Fruit won’t make you fat,” Brown added. They certainly make for a healthier snack. But, as is the case with almost any food, you shouldn’t overdo it.

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10. Lifting weights will make you bulky

People don’t want to be extremely thin anymore — like they did in the 1960s when the popular model Twiggy was the beauty standard — but they don’t want to be bulky, either. Unfortunately, women especially think that lifting weights to build muscle will make them look that way, Fink noted. “This will not happen.” Women don’t have the same hormonal structure as men, she added. They have a lot less testosterone, which is the hormone that makes building muscle easier.