Have you found yourself struggling with a “broken metabolism”? Does it seem like your body just isn’t working, and looking, like it used to when you were younger? If you feel like your metabolism is dead, today’s post is for you as we talk through five ways to a build a fiery metabolism!
Something I often hear when clients first come to me is a statement along the lines of “I just feel like my metabolism isn’t what it used to be” or “I think my metabolism is broken”. The undertones of the comment are usually filled with sadness and hopelessness.
But what if I told you that you could actually have a STRONGER, healthier metabolism as you age?
It’s true! Let’s talk about it:
What is Metabolism?
Metabolism can be described as the orchestra of complex chemical reactions that take place in your body to convert food into energy. This energy is what your body uses to do EVERYTthaHING, from breathing in the crisp fall air, to moving through your morning pilates practice, to thinking of what you’ll prep for dinner, and growing muscles, a baby, or long hair!
When someone describes a broken or slow metabolism, it’s usually related to a concern around unwanted weight gain or weight loss resistance, though there are other possible signs of a “slower” metabolism, such as feeling cold, having constipation issues, being constantlt fatigued, or dealing with hormonal imbalances.
It’s often thought that a slow metabolism is just an inevitable reality of getting older, that age itself is the culprit. And while yes metabolic changes WILL happen to some degree as you age, that’s actually a small piece of the puzzle!
4 of the biggest culprits I see that contribute to a less efficient metabolism?
- Less movement
- Years of yo-yo dieting
- Less sleep
- More stress
Do you know what this means? There’s actually a LOT of reasonable changes you can make in your day to day that are within your control to support a strong, fiery metabolism. Let’s walk through 5 of the biggest ways.
5 Ways to Support a Strong Metabolism
- Increase daily NEAT: NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, which is any movement outside of planned exercise. This includes acts like getting up from your desk every hour to walk to the bathroom, parking farther away to get groceries, doing chores around the house, gardening, using a treadmill desk, running around the yard with your puppy, etc. The reality is that many of us spend the majority of our day sitting (like at a desk job or on the couch), compared to when we were kids running through the neighborhood, taking part in after school sports, or spending hours in the pool in the summer. We are quite simply moving less, which burns less calories. We need more general (and gentle) movement during our days, not JUST scheduled exercise.
- **…but yes, planned exercise IS important, too, especially strength training! Why? Because more muscle mass = higher metabolism. How do you build muscle? Lifting weight and placing a stress on your muscles to grow (and eating in a way to promote that growth). Your cardio or walking sessions are great, but we need some heavier weight lifting, my friend. Read more about the benefits of strength training HERE.**
- Fuel your body with appropriate calories, macronutrients, micronutrients: because the reality is, under-fueling your body will teach it to function on less and less food overtime by down-regulating your thyroid function. Your thyroid pretty much dictates your metabolism, so we want to give that thyroid some loooove through nutrient dense foods, and enough of them! Sadly, the dieting industry has us trying to eat LESS food, and our food system is becoming increasingly processed and packaged, starving our bodies of the nutrients it was created to thrive on. You need real, nourishing, whole food — and enough of it…more than 1200 calories, for sure! Just as when you put more logs in a fire it continues to burn, so it is with food and your metabolism.
- Get enough sleep for crying out loud (respectfully): Now I know, yes there are seasons where sleep is hard to come by (hi new moms or college kids). But if you’re and adult and have control over your bed time, getting 7-9 hours of sleep is one of the BIGGEST things you can do to support your metabolism. The effects of sleep are so wide-ranging, it’s crazy that it isn’t talked about more. Embrace your grandma era…even if you’re 30.
- Learn how to decrease stress when possible, AND build resilience when possible: stress in some regards is inevitable, I get it, which is why we need ways to build our resilience so we can withstand the stress without it wearing us down. How do we build resilience? The options are endless! A few to consider: small acts of self care like a relaxing skincare routine, mindfulness and deep breathing, regular practices of silence and solitude, counseling, being in community, fueling your body on a consistent schedule, getting outside in nature, and leisure/play (to name a few)! For many people this is the hardest part, because stress itself makes it feel more challenging to eat better and move more.
If you feel like your metabolism has hit the breaks, take a few moments to review the list above and see where you can give a little more TLC. And if you’ve been undercutting yourself for years, give yourself some grace and TIME for things to pick back up to speed. If you aren’t dead, neither is your metabolism (and God’s not done with you!).
Which will you commit to first?