This topic is little different than my usual fitness posts. I decided to take a moment to go over some beliefs about fitness that are more common than not. I'd like to debunk some of the beliefs and set the story straight.
In order to lose weight, I have to do cardio. While cardio may be beneficial for weight loss, it shouldn't be your primary method for slimming down. More important than doing card is strength training. Speaking from experience, cardio can become a habit when going to the gym, and can lead to muscle loss, if you're not combining your aerobics workout with pumping iron. You could even do circuits with weights which can include a combination of cardio and weights, and lean out.
If I exercise, I should be able to eat anything I want. While you may want to indulge here and there it shouldn't become a habit. This type of behavior can become permanent behavior and cause a gain in weight if continued over a large period of time. While there are athletes who train extremely hard and require more caloric intake, others should not use as a food as a reward for hard work. What you eat and when you eat it makes a huge difference. Eating a meal in high carbohydrate content after an intense workout can help replenish glycogen stores, but eaten at other times, can cause an influx of insulin response and excess glucose if its not needed by your body.
I just want to tone up. In my opinion there is no sense to the word tone. Your muscles can become defined, but in order for them to do so, you better be lifting heavy weights. LIfting a 5 pound dumbbell over and over doesn't really make your muscles bigger. You need to challenge yourself. In order to gain muscle, you have to breakdown muscle, and grow and repair those muscles with proteins and carbs. Have you ever seen anyone get defined by lifting cans of soup or jugs of milk? Highly doubtful.
Lifting weights will make me manly. Unless you're taking excess testosterone and steroids, I doubt you will bulk up, while maintaining a normal diet. Bodybuilder usually eat in excess of up to 5,000 calories to bulk up, in addition to supplementing with hormones. Men naturally carry less body fat due to the higher testosterone, but women usually carry more estrogen and body fat.
If I want a six pack, I have to do 1000 ab exercises a day. If you can do 1000 ab exercises per night, good for you, but that's not going to get you a six pack. Abdominal fat is the hardest to get rid of and requires a lot of patience and hard work. A well defined six-pack is obtained with Sprinting and Clean eating. Your physique is determined 80% by diet, unless you have amazing genes. Also, there's no way to define one area without working other parts.
More is better. This is an important one, because I am guilty of believing this for the longest time until I took a break and actually saw improvements. Overtraining your body is not better and can cause a cascading effect of problems. One example is high cortisol levels which can do damage to both insulin sensitivity and adrenals. If you want to maintain your weight loss, the best way to do it is slowly. Losing weight or bulking up too quickly is harder to maintain, whereas gradual progress to your goals will help you keep your shape. Cortisol can also cause a catabolic effect on your muscles, so keep your cool and take your time. Eat right and train hard and you'll achieve your goals.