Many people start each new year with a plan to “get healthy” by losing weight, and formulating a regiment to keep the weight off throughout the year. Often, however, the goal is lost by springtime, as people continue to follow the ‘rules’ they have been taught since childhood.

There are several myths circulating about weight gain and overall health. Understanding what these myths are — and why you shouldn’t be paying attention to what they say — is the first step toward ensuring a truly healthy lifestyle.

4) Exercise ‘til You Drop

It’s been said that to be truly effective in weight loss, you need to take in less calories than you expend. However, some of the so-called ‘health experts’ who write books and host television shows suggest that the real ‘trick’ is to eat less while dramatically increasing the amount of time you exercise.

The fact of the matter is that if you restrict your body from its required nutrition, you are sending the message that you are starving. This causes the body to store what little calories a person following this advice allows it to have, which first leads to a ‘plateau’ in weight, and ultimately weight gain.

3) Counting Calories

A calorie is a calorie, but it’s important not to lose sight of nutrition. If you plan to count calories to lose weight and don’t pay attention to the nutritional value of the foods you’re eating, you may soon be disappointed at the (lack of) results.

For instance, a daily food intake that is rich in fruits and vegetables could produce the same ‘calorie count’ as one that is chock full of soda (and other sugary drinks), as well as cupcakes, potato chips and other processed foods. The latter choices give your body virtually no calories of merit, while fruits and natural foods will contribute to a well-rounded and healthy daily diet.

2) No or Low Carb Diets

A balanced diet requires carbohydrates. ‘Carbs’ provide essential vitamins and nutrients, plus dietary fiber that promotes digestion. This doesn’t, however, mean you should gorge yourself on potato chips and deep-dish pizza. Instead, choose healthy carbohydrates such as those found in vegetables (like potatoes and beans), some fruits, and unprocessed whole grains.

1) Skipping Meals

Starvation should never be part of a healthy living plan. Neither should consuming just one large meal a day. Studies have shown that people who choose to skip meals actually eat more later in the day, and that they typically reach for high-fat and processed foods, instead of healthier choices.

Rather than skipping meals, consider keeping fruit (such as a banana) on hand to satisfy cravings between meals. Strive to eat three meals a day in an ‘inverted pyramid’ fashion: choose a big breakfast, moderate lunch and a dinner that will simply provide you with enough energy to function until bedtime.