Thursday, March 8, 2012

Metabolism, Shmetabolism

Increase your metabolism. Slow metabolism. Boost metabolism. Speed up metabolism...

So everyone has heard of metabolism, but does anyone really understand what it is?

Years ago, I was reading the book called Curves, written by the guy who developed the Curves exercise facilities, and he talked about eating more food to increase your metabolism. He said that when you reach a plateau you need to eat more food. Eating more speeds up your metabolism.
Until recently that is pretty much all I knew about metabolism. Now I've learned more and am excited to tell you what the mysterious metabolism is.

In years gone by, there were people who had to hunt for their food and food might be scarce for a while. Our bodies are designed to survive this sort of event. This mechanism is called our metabolism.

When our body senses a coming food shortage, it slows everything down - the rate our hair and nails grow as well as energy usage. Our body starts hanging on to its resources to ration it out until you can find the next animal to shoot with your bow and arrow to feed your family.
Unfortunately, because we don't have a food shortage, there are habits we have that are causing our metabolism to work against us. Your body will even resort to borrowing resources from your muscles in times of 'crisis' meaning your muscles are being consumed!

Some resources will tell you that heredity impacts your metabolism while others say that isn't true. I really believe that your metabolism isn't a fixed thing and you can adjust it. I'm really tired of people blaming being overweight and such on heredity. That held me back for years. My mom's whole family is overweight. But I have now proved myself wrong on that theory and I'm hoping if that thought is in your head, you will root it out and toss it!

There are 2 main things that effect your metabolism:
1) Eating
2) Exercise

When you eat plenty of food and stop depriving your body, it learns that there is plenty of food and speeds up your metabolism to supply energy efficiently system wide. It stops hanging on to your resources and starts using it. Skipping meals (especially breakfast) or eating like a bird is a good way to make your body think a shortage is coming.

Exercise can almost double your metabolic rate.

I know you love to exercise... Yeah, me neither. But Paul McKenna might be on to something. Beyond losing weight, exercise (which doesn't have to be some extreme regime, moving your body more than sitting on the couch will raise your metabolism) has many benefits including reducing stress, improving your mood (because exercise releases endorphins), releasing tension, slowing aging, etc.

Quoting his book I Can Make You Thin:
While the biggest exercise myth in the world is the idea of "no pain, no gain," the reality of exercise is this:
No effort, no gain; a little bit of effort, tremendous gain.

So why aren't you doing more of it?
Well it's probably because in the past you thought about exercise and imagined yourself huffing and puffing on an exercise machine, listening to a maniacal aerobics instructor shouting "feel the burn," or looking into a wall-size mirror surrounded by people who look so much better than you that you just want to go home and throw up.
The problem is that you have not yet linked pleasure to the thought of exercise.
It really is that simple - if you want to exercise regularly, you must enjoy moving your body, both as you're doing it and after. Until you deliberately root out your negative associations with exercise and install new positive ones, you will continue to tell yourself you "should" do it and beat yourself up for not listening.

By the way, I have lost 50 lbs with nearly no exercise so I know it can be done, but knowing I can lose even more efficiently by adding more activity, I'm interested in changing my mind about exercise. We'll figure out how to do that in my next post.

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