When I first started making changes to improve my overall health and fitness, I was shocked that so many of my friends and family produced such a variety of diet stereotypes, none of them true, but all of them silly. It took months of my new diet and fitness regimen before they dropped their stereotypical misconceptions! If you’re about to start a new diet or exercise plan, you ought to know what these diet stereotypes are, so you can avoid them… and so you can nip them in the bud if and when someone you know mentions them.
1. If You’re Vegetarian, You’re a Hippie
This is one of my very favorite diet stereotypes, one I hear all the time. I was surprised how many people assumed I was some sort of hippie, Boho chick when I told them I was vegetarian. I’ve never worn or owned any clothing made of hemp, I don’t like the scent of patchouli, I shave my legs every day, and have never smoked a Clove cigarette. See? Not a hippie. And only ONE of my vegetarian friends is a hippie, while the two dozen others are merely hipster-ish. (Full disclosure: I did grow up in rural California, I like to recycle, and I am a tree hugger.)
2. If You Lift Weights, You’ll Become Manly
We’ve all seen the horrific photos of female body-builders, and they make us shudder when our personal trainers recommend adding a day of weight-lifting to our fitness programs. No worries. Adding a day or two of weights isn’t going to turn you into one of those unattractively bulgy, masculine women. I promise.
3. If a Guy Lifts Weights, He’s a Muscle-head
The flip side of the female body-builder coin is the myth that all guys who lift weights are muscle-heads, like in that TV commercial for Planet Fitness, “I pick things up and put them down.” Sure, there are guys who are way too into their biceps and triceps to hold another, more important, thought in their heads… but it’s certainly not true across the board. This is another diet stereotype we can call “busted.”
4. The Gym is Packed with Muscle-heads
Okay, this is my last muscle-head item. My gym has exactly two muscle-head members — the rest of us, numbering nearly 200, are all normal people who just want to lose our muffin tops or run indoors rather than freezing all winter long. And those two muscle-heads? They’re polite, kind, and helpful.
5. Sweating is so Not Sexy!
Actually, if you poll your male friends and your own sweetheart, they’ll tell you — sweating is sexy! It shows that you’ve gotten physical. Rather than going to the gym to look cute, you actually worked out! And once you’re done at the gym, you can shower and get cute all over again.
6. If You Want to Lose Weight Fast, Skip Meals
Here’s another silly diet stereotype, one that’s actually the opposite of reality. Skipping meals will slow your metabolism, and even make it more likely you’ll indulge more the next time you eat. Experts recommend eating five small meals per day, rather than three large ones… see? This stereotype is popular, but ridiculous!
7. Carbs Are Bad!
Fiber is one of the most vital nutrients we can eat, and because it keeps us feeling full for a long time, it’s a dieter’s best friend. So why do we all think carbs are bad? They’re not! What’s bad is blaming the weight gain you’ve experienced from all sorts of unhealthy eating (fast food, no fruits and veggies, diet soda) on one of the most healthful things you should indulge in. Load up on fiber from healthy whole grains and drop the fast food… let’s see how quickly you realize this diet stereotype is untrue!
8. Eating Healthy is Expensive
While it’s true that organic foods are often pricier than their non-organic counterparts, overall, healthy eating isn’t more expensive than muffin top-inducing eating. Sure, Subway is more expensive than McDonald’s, but cheaper than both of them is cooking a healthy, hearty meal at home. Just shop smart.
9. Only Old People Have to Worry about Fitness
If only! The diet and fitness habits you form when you’re young stay with you for your lifetime, so the sooner you get fit and healthy, the better off you’ll be! It’s much easier to get, and stay, fit when you’re younger and your metabolism is naturally faster.
10. Marilyn Monroe is My Role Model
I can’t count how many girls I know who are about 50 pounds overweight, and use Monroe as an excuse for not changing their unhealthy lifestyles. Yes, she weighed more than models today, and yes, she’s an enduring symbol of what’s sexy. But she didn’t lead a sedentary lifestyle, or eat fast food every day, or drink soda like it was going out of style. She didn’t have a tell-tale unhealthy muffin top around her middle; she was healthy and fit. If you find yourself using her as a role model, then you have to walk the walk, and be fit and healthy, too.
Aren’t some of these stereotypes and myths ridiculous? The vegetarian-hippie one and the weight lifting ones are particularly silly to me, but which of these made you giggle or roll your eyes? Or is there another diet stereotype or myth you know of that I ought to add to my list?