Keeping on track with healthy eating and an active lifestyle definitely requires some ground rules. Of course, this only applies if your ground rules are legitimate, and sometimes people like to invent fitness rules that make little to no sense. Here are some to break.

No calories allowed.

Not only is an all-salad-and-bottled-water diet lame and boring, eating too little can be just as detrimental as eating too much. Too few calories can throw your body into starvation mode, where it hoards and metabolizes calories less efficiently. Eating balanced meals or snacks every three hours allows your body to keep its metabolic fire at a steady, constant burn.

…fine. No carbs allowed.

The Average Joe or Jill need not pick the croutons out of their salad or the noodles out of their spaghetti. Carbs, in and of themselves, are not the devil, but again, it’s about balance. Depending on your fitness goals, having between 40 and 60 percent of your day’s calories fall under the carb category is a good target.

Cardio is the only way to weight loss.

Cardio is awesome, but strength training is essential for a leaner, tighter physique. Why? Muscle burns more calories than fat. Therefore, the more muscle you have in your body, the higher your metabolic rate, and the more efficient you become at burning fat.

Girls shouldn’t lift heavy. Ever.

Fitness blasphemy! Ladies, you will not develop bulging muscles and bulk up like a dude by putting more effort into lifting weights than lifting your hairbrush.

Male-caliber testosterone would be a prerequisite. Steroids could do the trick too.

Bottom line: pack more than just cucumbers for lunch, quit being so scared of those double-digit weights, and be informed about the rules you choose to follow.

Read more from Jenn at inthebeginningwasmuscle.wordpress.com.