Have you ever thought of aging as a miracle? But it is! There are actually miraculous things that happen along the way—we get wiser, we know more clearly what we like and what we don’t (no more BS!), we stop sweating the small stuff so much and develop a keener eye for everyday miracles. Growing older can be challenging too as I’m finding, because of course we also develop a few lines on our faces and a little more padding in our bellies and tushes!
The truth is our metabolism does slow down as we age. This involves hormonal changes, less muscle density and sleep issues too--which only aggravate all of the changes we’re not crazy about like more chemical stress response and more belly-jelly!
I think it’s already pretty evident to most of us that our eating and exercise habits impact the numbers on the scale. But there are other things involved too, and I have a list of tips you may not have considered. Save yourself the expense (and torture!) of the Spanx, and take a few minutes to read below:
Let’s begin with the basics--What is Metabolism?
This is how your body converts calories into energy, and your body is always burning calories, even when you’re coach surfing or sleeping.—doing stuff like keeping you alive, repairing your cells, supporting brain and nerve activity, breathing, This is called your BMR, or basal metabolic resting rate. You also burn calories when you EAT—glory! Digesting food takes a lot of energy, and then of course any normal physical activity and intentional exercise.
Your metabolism doesn’t always stay the same throughout your life. For most women, metabolism drops about 1-2% per decade after age 25. For men, it’s less (of course, what else is new?J)) because they tend to have more muscle composition, thus burn more calories. If you continue to eat the same way and exercise the same amount after the age of 25, you could gain about 2 pounds per year. This may not seem like much in the beginning, but then project forward 10-15 years—yikes!
Alright, so what’s the good part, Carol??
We can boost our metabolism! Not by starving yourself either-- in fact, if you do, there’s a good chance you can be much worse off in the ‘burning” department. And find yourself on that yo-yo rollercoaster like its Ground-hog day over and over again.
Let’s get smart and try something different!
1. Drink to your Health! Try to consume at least half your bodyweight (lbs.) in ounces of water per day. Studies show that poor hydration is linked to higher weight and obesity, and lowered resistance to sickness and disease too!
2. Embrace blessed sleep! 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night keeps your metabolism running strong. When you’re chronically sleep deprived (consistently getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night), your body produces more of the stress hormone cortisol. This uptick in cortisol throws your hormonal balance out of whack, which can slow down your metabolism. Plus, sleep deprivation increases your appetite for carbohydrate-rich foods, like sweets and snacks, making sleep loss a double whammy for weight gain.
3. Pump it up!: Thirty minutes of weight-bearing exercises 2-3 times a week can help increase and maintain muscle mass, which revs up your metabolism. A pound of muscle burns about 6 calories a day compared to a pound of fat which only burns 2 calories a day. That’s a BIG difference! Not only will your body be better defined with weight training, but you’ll be strengthening your bones and joints, AND your metabolism will get a huge boost—win/win! (I always recommend that if possible, hire a personal training for a few sessions to help you form a plan and work with you on proper form and safety cues. This could save you a LOT on wasted time and injuries!)
4. Fill your plate with REAL whole, plant-based foods: People following a plant-based diet usually have an easier time losing weight and keeping it off compared to their omnivorous pals because plant-based foods are typically lower in calories than animal-based ones, contain filling fiber, and contain the micronutrients and antioxidants your body needs to have a healthy metabolism (and a healthy immune system)! Also, whole plant foods have a greater thermic effect than animal-based ones because of the fiber—meaning you burn more calories while digesting them. Studies have shown that plant-based eaters burn about 300 more calories a day on average while at rest (study).
5. Think Zen: Maintaining a healthy metabolism is also connected to our levels of stress and our ability to manage it. Stress reduction practices, like saying “no”, meditation, breath work, exercise, and other self-care strategies, are very important to your health and well-being. An increase in insulin release as part of a stress response in the body triggers appetite and can chronically hamper our metabolic system.
6. Spice it up! Adding a spicy kick to your food on a regular basis can increase your metabolism (and make your meals even tastier). Try adding hot peppers, chili peppers, hot sauce and even red pepper flakes to your foods throughout the day
7. Bring on the Plant Proteins! When you choose plant-based protein, you get metabolism-boosting benefits without the potential drawbacks of eating more animal protein-- for example, increased heart disease and cancer risk. and lowered immune response. Try adding a serving of beans, lentils, hemp seeds, chia seeds or some of the other rich sources of plant protein to your snacks and meals.
8. Tea anyone? Research suggests drinking 1-2 cups of green tea daily, preferably before noon. It’s been shown to significantly increase metabolism for 24 hours after and may boost fat oxidation, which means less storage of body fat.
9. Find your joy! When we follow our passions and life interests and spend quality time with friends and family, not only do we find purpose but we also experience a brighter outlook—towards our own circumstances, work, people and the world around us. Taking time to feed our souls makes us better in every area of our lives and helps us manage everyday stressors in a much healthier way, countering the release of excess cortisol and other metabolism-hindering hormones.
10. Don’t worry about getting older. Easier said than done I know, but a worthwhile goal! A positive body image is well worth cultivating and nurturing, because learning to love yourself no matter what or when is the most important thing you can do for your overall health—present and future! Follow the steps above and also be sure to take care of your skin—having a daily skin-care regimen, and one with non-toxic ingredients, is very helpful to avoid premature aging and should be a part of any self-care strategy. Feeling good in our own skin is important but feeling good about who we are on the inside no matter our age is much more important!
As we age, we begin to think about what we have accomplished thus far and what we want to leave behind one day as our legacy. There is no time like the present to spread our wings, try new things, and look around for others you can encourage and help along the way!
I’d love to help you find—and keep!—your groove. Together, we’ll find ways to rev up your metabolism and explore what your best healthy life looks like— contact me!
Be Well! Carol (and Henry!)