It’s that time of year again. We’re sharing our resolutions and doing our best to ensure we’re not eating our words come February. In the spirit of setting you up for success, we spoke with fitness experts around the South to pick their brains for expert advice and the fitness myths they’d love to debunk. Keep these 10 tips in mind as you tackle your wellness goals this season!
Natalie Eubank, Fitness Trainer
The Yard | Memphis, TN
Tip #1: You can’t spot reduce fat from different parts of your body.
Do you have a “problem area” you’ve always wanted to eliminate? It would be nice if we could target those spots and slim them down through exercise, but unfortunately, that’s not how it works. “Eating in a caloric deficit and losing weight will help, but your body is going to burn fat from wherever it wants to burn fat,” Natalie says. How your body stores fat is largely determined by your sex and genetics. You can, however, build up the muscles around these areas, which in turn helps burn more fat.
Tip #2: Lifting weights is necessary to burn fat.
Cardio gets your heart pumping, but if you want to burn fat, you need to pick up the weights. “The more muscle you have, the more fat you can burn, even at rest,” Natalie says. Weightlifting sessions don’t have to be super intense to pack a punch. Moving weights slowly but steadily and making a “mind-muscle connection” as you lift will keep you burning fat long after you leave the gym.
Tip #3: Soreness does not equal a good workout.
While it’s normal to feel some soreness after trying a new movement or working a muscle that hasn’t been used in a while, you shouldn’t feel sore after every workout. In fact, soreness is more likely a sign that you need to rest for a day or two, Natalie says. It can also mean that you need to drink more water or eat more protein, she adds.
If you’re working with a trainer, it helps to be transparent about your fitness level from the get-go. “If something doesn’t feel right, speak up,” Natalie says. “Muscles that feel warm and fatigued are normal, but if your pain is hot or sharp, you need to stop and listen to your body.”
Josh Gamble, Chief Instructor & Founding Trainer
Barry’s Bootcamp | Nashville, TN
Tip #4: Carbs are not the enemy.
“Carbs are good for you, and you NEED them,” says Josh.
This Mayo Clinic article backs up Josh’s sentiment with science. Despite their bad rap, carbohydrates are crucial to our diet and should make up 45% to 65% of our daily calories. You can consume carbs smartly by selecting fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, picking whole grains, opting for low-fat dairy products, and adding beans, peas, and lentils to your plate.
Sam Butts, Co-Owner & Director
SHED East Nashville | Nashville, TN
Tip #5: Lifting weights won’t “bulk you up.”
“A big fitness misconception is that lifting heavy doesn’t always mean adding bulk or size for women,” says Sam.
Here’s the deal. It takes an INSANE training regimen with super high loads and curated eating to get body-builder muscles. Even three days a week working with weights will not make us “bulk up” in the negative way we might imagine. Self goes into more detail in this article.
Raven Holloway, Fitness Trainer & Certified Yoga and Medication Coach
Wellness Worx | Hoover, AL
Tip #6: Your trainer should not be your #bodygoals.
Don’t let social media mislead you. Signing up for your favorite fitness influencer’s weight loss program doesn’t mean you will have the same figure she’s flaunting in her Instagram Reels. “A huge misconception is that you’re going to look like the trainer who’s training you,” Raven says.
While diet and exercise can help you transform your body, genetics still play a role in how you look. “What folks have to understand is that our bodies are made different, and they are beautiful in their own way,” Raven says.
Tip #7: Meditation may be the missing ingredient.
Raven, a certified yoga and meditation coach, includes yoga and meditation in the regimen for each of her clients. A 2017 review of existing studies found that mindfulness meditation can help change eating habits, which then helps with weight loss. Furthermore, studies also show that dieters practicing mindfulness are more likely to keep off weight.
Tip #8: For proper recovery, think beyond rest day.
You probably already know you shouldn’t work out every muscle group every day. Rest days are essential for preventing burnout and reducing the risk of injury. But Raven believes proper recovery is about more than a rest day.
Firstly, genuine recovery requires adequate sleep. “We’re like a computer,” Raven says. “We have to allow ourselves time enough to shut down.” Like a computer, Raven believes we can run out of storage too. “What that computer and our bodies are saying is something’s got to go because I’m carrying too much.”
Zoe Yarborough, Certified Pilates Instructor
Club Pilates | Nashville, TN
Tip #9: You won’t stick to workouts you hate.
“The best workout is the workout you enjoy,” says Zoe. “Dreading your workout is a tell-tale sign that it won’t stick. If you hate pure out-of-breath cardio like running or cycling, find something that’s medium- or lower-intensity that you actually enjoy. When we celebrate our bodies instead of punishing them or denying them certain things, we are more likely to be consistent. And consistency yields results.”
This study reiterates Zoe’s advice that the enjoyment of an activity is a predictor of how often you’ll do the activity. Set yourself up for success by finding workouts you actually like.
Tip #10: Fitness isn’t just about looking good — it’s about longevity.
“A wise mentor always repeated to me that our body is literally the only thing we have in this world,” shares Zoe. “When we approach exercise from this perspective, exercise becomes a non-negotiable for our body and mind’s future well-being.”
Zoe wishes everyone treated exercise through the lens of longevity. “It’s being kind to your future self,” she adds. “What you do NOW helps how you’ll feel later. There is no wrong time to start. There is no wrong place to start.”
She also shared her favorite fitness stat from ACSM: 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week can reduce the chances of cardiovascular disease and diabetes by 50%. “That’s a small price to pay for such huge health implications!” says Zoe.
Here’s to a happy and healthy year!
Meet more inspiring experts around the South through our FACES series!