The 3 Myths of ‘Toning’

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toning

A common phrase uttered by the majority of women who enter the gym with looks of determination and matching lulu lemon attire is, “I want to be toned!”  But, what does she mean?  Does ‘toned’ mean a Charlize Theron kind of physique?

Or does ‘toned’ mean more of a Cameron Diaz physique?

Both women are considered to be amongst the most beautiful women in the world, however, they have completely different physiques.  The look most similar to Cameron Diaz has a delicious curve to the medial deltoid and a fine line between front of the shoulder and pectoral muscle gathering.  The torso continues down to tight, flat abdominal muscles; a hint of a six pack is complimented by defined obliques and enhanced by the slight curve of the hip.  Then, the eye descends to the juicy, round glutes that slope down with a tease of the voluptuous bulge to the hamstring; wrapped around by the soft, yet noticeable sweep of the quadriceps. And finally, the hint of a teardrop on the inner thigh.  THAT is how ‘toned’ shall be defined.  In order to begin the journey of trying to look like Cameron Diaz, it is important to understand the effort behind the physique and that there’s a few myths that must be confronted…

#1 LIFTING HEAVY WEIGHTS WILL MAKE WOMEN BIG AND BULKY

WASH THAT MOUTH OUT! The misconception is that when a woman lifts heavy weights, she’s going to end up with a physique that rivals this:

Women who lift with heavy weights will NOT look big and bulky like a competitive bodybuilder.  Quite the contrary is true! It is rare that a woman is capable of putting on muscle mass easily; and, it is actually more of an uphill battle for most women to obtain it.  However, MUSCLES are what give a woman’s body the Cameron Diaz’s ‘toned’ physique.  The time-tested, trusted and true method to grow muscle is to lift weights, as heavy as possible, without neglecting any muscle groups.  Treat the body like a machine with the knowledge that time and effort will result in muscle conditioning and physique composition changes. To that point, this isn’t a race!  Patience is going to be a woman’s best friend throughout the fitness journey to build muscle mass.  The experience should teach women to listen to their bodies, feed it proper nutrition and promote recovery.  Which leads to the next myth that…

#2 CALORIC DEPRIVATION IS THE ONLY WAY TO OBTAIN/MAINTAIN A LEAN PHYSIQUE

Could not be more wrong, please throw this idea out of the window.  The concept of caloric deprivation for prolonged periods of time will result in the wasting away of muscle tissue and produce a less muscular look, such as the Charlize Theron physique.  As such, if Cameron Diaz has more appealing body, then rethink the concept that food is an enemy to the goal physique.  Food is fuel to grow muscle mass, provide energy to kill leg day, the motivation to complete an hour on the stair mill and yields the fullness of a muscle curve.  Proper nutrition can increase a body’s metabolism and burn fat more efficiently.  Eating ENOUGH healthy calories will fuel the body to be better than it already is.  Fats (including saturated fats), complex carbohydrates as well as protein are all needed to aid in bulking muscle, weight loss and overall health.  Remember that diet and proper nutrition are arguably the most important aspects of achieving any physique and the keys to feeling as good as you look – repeat and embrace the saying, ‘food is fuel.’

#3 YOUR WEIGHT WILL GO DOWN AS YOU SEE RESULTS

This is not always the case.  It is somehow drilled into women that the scale needs to go down in order to see the results they want in their bodies.  Why let silly numbers dictate how you look in the mirror? It’s as if weighing less means that muscles will magically appear – not so much.  What is not understood by many women is that muscle needs to be built before leaning out can happen.  Building muscle means eating lots of healthy food to fuel muscle growth, lifting heavy weights, limiting cardio time (YAY!!); and, during this process, weight gain can happen – IT’S A GOOD THING! Watch that scale go up with pride knowing you and your body are doing EXACTLY what you want it to do.  It’s ok if the scale goes up when the body fat is lowering while muscle mass is replacing it.  The whole look of a woman’s body will change when her weight on the scale is derived from muscle rather than from fat. View the positive numbers as earned success and NEVER as a failure.  Watch the former jiggle of the triceps slowly harden to smooth skin taunt over a hint of a croissant shaped muscle with some arrogance – who cares what the scale says?

The myth of having to weigh a certain amount to achieve a certain physique is outdated and tired.  What makes a physique appealing is the aesthetics that meet the eye.  If the scale messes with your head too much, find another method of measurement, such as a tape measure or a body fat caliber.  Whatever the choice of instrument or measurement, be consistent, be healthy and don’t let silly numbers derail your goals.   The crucial aspect of working towards the desired physique is to trust the process and method to get there.  Watching the scale rise is a difficult feat for any woman, eating a lot of food is not everyone’s idea of a good time either; but, in the next weeks or months to come, when you have shoulders that give Cameron Diaz’s a run for their money, it will all be worth it. 

– Samantha DiSabello

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