Looking through the posts here, there are a LOT of misconceptions about fitness, and just a lot of uninformed people out there. With so many posts asking for information that seems so very basic to those that are more in-tune with fitness, it's easy to see why America is so overweight.
Not to say that the posters are dumb for asking. The only stupid question is the one not asked. It's GREAT that people are trying to shed the veil of mystery that seems to cloak weight loss and exercise in this country. In some ways, I feel the folks trying to profit by selling machines or diet plans are to blame... as they taut their own products while generally glossing over the true fundamentals of weight loss and exercise.
So, with that in mind, I thought I'd try and start a post where people can share information and anecdotes that penetrate to the heart of the most frequently asked questions around here.. and, no, "how much can you bench" doesn't really count as one of those FAQs that need to be addressed in this thread.
So, to start, here's my modest list of relatively universally accepted fitness facts and fallacies:
1) NUTRITION IS IMPORTANT. You can work out like a maniac, but if the food you're eating is garbage, you're not really going to see a lot of benefits. Arnold himself wouldn't be in great shape if all he ate was Arby's, McDonald's, and Little Debbie snacks.
2) CARDIO IS GENERALLY IMPORTANT TO WEIGHT LOSS. Note I say "generally." There are those that are really into bodybuilding and such that get the calorie-burning effects from all of the muscle mass. Their workouts, though, are often so intense that the effort is actually resulting in an elevated heart rate. For most of us average joes, however, cardio is important to maintaining a good weight. If you're 40 pounds overweight and are simply doing weights.. you're just building muscle under the flab. Ever see those guys with big biceps and a bigger beer belly?
3) SPOT REDUCTION IS A MYTH. You lose fat overall.. not just in one place. You will see more changes in some areas at times than others, but that's because each person's body has areas it will gain/lose weight more easily than others. But there is NO way to "lose fat from your belly" only. Addressing a flabby butt or bulging belly means addressing your body fat overall, not just in that one area.
4) NOT EVERYONE WILL BE A SIZE 2 DRESS OR HAVE A 32-INCH WAIST. The real goal of exercise and nutrition is to have a healthy body that is right for your structure. Assess (or get help assessing) what your target weight is based on your body's construction. A woman that is 6'2" with a naturally amazonian physique is not likely, even at the pinnacle of health, to be a size 2 dress. A guy with wide hips, even with 3% body fat, may never fit into a pair of 34" waistline jeans.. some guys, the pelvic bone just won't accommodate that, though they're very fit. Base your fitness goals based on what is healhty and possible for your natural body type.. not on a specific number on a label.
I'll leave it at that, and let everyone else pile theirs on. Feel free to contribute.