Five Ways to Boost Metabolism

People are always talking about the ways to boost metabolism, as if it is something we have significant control over. We need to speed it up or we can inadvertently slow it down if we don’t do the right thing. But, metabolism is just the collection of chemical processes that occurs in the body’s cells that allow us to grow and reproduce.

We actually don’t have too much control over how fast or slow our metabolism is functioning, at least not as much as many people might lead you to believe. But, there are a few simple ways to ensure you can have a metabolism that is running along smoothly and working at its best to burn calories:

  1. Don’t skip meals – the idea of not missing a meal doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to eat yourself every two hours whether you’re hungry or not; it’s about keeping your body from thinking you’re in a fasting state (meaning you have to conserve energy), and supplying enough free energy to keep your body functioning without having to break down stored energy. The body is a pretty savvy piece of machinery, and if it doesn’t know when it’s going to get the next meal, it’ll be more apt to store away energy instead of using it as it comes. Healthy snacking every 2-3 hours will help keep your body’s metabolism to run smoothly, which over time may lead to weight loss.  Having trouble deciding what to eat? Try cucumber slices topped with dill and olive oil, sliced tomatoes with mozzarella and basil, or whole, roasted pistachios.
  2. Stay hydrated. One of the simplest ways to keep your metabolism moving is to give it the most basic fuel that it needs, water. Drinking water with fresh squeezed lemon or orange juice will keep your body – as well as your tummy – satisfied. The benefits of being hydrated are almost endless – water flushes toxins, helps maintain healthy skin, and allows your metabolism to function smoothly. Drinking water between meals will also aid the digestion process when you do have a meal.
  3. Daily physical activity. Boosting your metabolism isn’t just based on what you eat, adding more physical activity to your day is a great way to rev that metabolism. Working in a trip to the gym may not make a lot of sense in your fast-paced schedule, so adding in a few minutes here or there when you can is the best way to go. Parking a few spots further away, walking to the corner store instead of driving, or doing a few jumping jacks before plopping down on the couch will get your blood flowing and keep your metabolism moving. Every little bit counts!
  4. Lift weights. Think building muscle is only good for lifting heavy stuff? Well think again! Having a healthy muscle mass is good for bone health, looks great, and also boosts your metabolism. In order to maintain muscle, your body must use a lot of calories. If you keep your muscles toned, you’ll burn more calories all the time, even when you’re at rest.
  5. Stay positive. Last, but not least, is a positive state of mind. Sure, what you eat and how much you move are scientifically relevant and give some solid results, but staying positive is just as important to your health, and good health equals healthy metabolism. Breathing techniques, yoga, stretching, or even moderate amounts of meditation will all help keep your mind and body aligned, working together to stay healthy and even help you reach your goal weight.

Christmas Survivial Guide

Holiday Survival Guide

Are you worried about how to manage all the extra food, treats, desserts, and holiday festivities while still maintaining your healthy lifestyle and weight? This time of year can get busy and even the best intended healthy eating plans can quickly fall to the way side. You may need a holiday survivial guide to help you stay on track!

Indulging may leave you a couple of kilos heavier in the New Year making it harder to get back on track. Did you know the average person gains approximately 2kg over the holiday season? But, at the same time you do want to enjoy the holidays, spending time with family and friends and even eating a few items you really like. Actually, you can do both! Enjoy the holidays and stay on track at the same time!

Want to make your holidays stress-free? Start with these few easy steps in our holiday survival guide that will help you at least maintain your weight during the season and set you up for success in 2015:

 

  • Stop Stressing! Did you know that excessive stress, even about food, actually causes weight gain? Stress increases our cortisol levels, a hormone that makes us hold on to extra weight. Too much stress can also cause us to reach for a treat to help soothe our anxiety or avoid the situation.The first step during the holidays is to realize you are not going to be 100% successful with any diet and let that expectation, and the stress that comes with it, go! You always want what you can’t have, so the more you restrict, the more likely you are to go overboard.

 

  • Give yourself permission. During the holidays, there are foods available that are not around at other times of the year, whereas many others you can eat any time. There is no need to sample everything, so try to only stick to your personal favorites and eat a reasonable portion. This way, you are able to enjoy special foods without over doing it on your calories.

 

  • Try the Rule of Threes. This rule, when applied at parties with a lot of available food, can help you reduce your overeating. The rule of threes is where you choose no more than 3 items such as appetizers/nibbles/cheese and biscuits, no more than 3 alcoholic drinks or no more than 3 bites of a dessert. The important point is that you still get to taste the food, but remember that the taste never gets better after the third bite! You can apply this rule up to three times per week at any holiday party you have to attend!

 

  • Eat First. If you are going to a holiday party where there will be a lot of food available, have a light snack before heading out so you don’t arrive ravenous. If you are overly hungry, you will generally overeat, especially when there are a ton of options.

 

  • Make half your plate vegetables. Whenever there is a buffet or a large amount of food available, it is easy to overeat. If you fill half your plate up with vegetables (salads or cooked veggies), this leaves you less room for the other higher calorie items. Plus, veggies are high in fiber, which fills you up, so you feel satisfied with less.

 

  •  Watch the alcohol. Drinking to excess during the holidays can lead to too many calories and lowered inhibitions. Avoid drinks with sugary mixers such as sodas or juice. A glass of wine or a light beer are your best choices. Drink one glass of water per alcoholic drink to slow down your consumption and prevent dehydration.

 

  • Exercise. Doing even just 20-30 minutes of exercise every day can help you manage stress and burn off extra calories. Maybe you don’t have time right now for a 60 minute workout, but most people have time for short bouts of 10-20 minutes at a time.  You can also get your family involved by going for walks or bike rides together as part of your holiday celebration.

 

Remember, Christmas is only a day, so even if you do indulge on that day, just get back on track the next day. Be sure to get rid of any leftovers so you won’t be tempted! With this easy holiday survival guide, you can make it through the holidays without overindulging. You can start 2015 feeling confident and ready to reach your goals.

Stress and Weight Loss

downloadDo you feel like you are doing everything right, eating well, exercising and you still aren’t losing weight? There may be several reasons why the scale is not going down, but one of the most common is related to the effect that stress has on our bodies and on our weight.

Most of us live under chronic low-grade stress all the time. Between work, family obligations, traffic, and our fast-paced lifestyles, it is difficult to not feel stressed out. Even worrying too much about our weight can increase our stress levels! Stress increases a hormone called cortisol, which is likely responsible for the reasons why the scale may not be moving if we are under a lot of stress.

There are over 100 hormones in the human body that function together in complex ways to influence hunger, satiety, fat storage, and muscle gain. Although research hasn’t identified all the details of the body’s hormones, several have a significant impact on body weight.  The primary stress hormone, which also influences our weight, is called cortisol. This hormone is secreted by the adrenal glands, located at the top of the kidneys. Cortisol has some positive roles in our bodies, in the morning it helps motivate us to get going. It also plays a role in controlling metabolism and insulin levels.

Although cortisol plays some positive roles, levels of cortisol are increased during times of psychological or physical stress. Since it controls metabolism and insulin, during times of stress, too much cortisol can increase your appetite and cause you to deposit fat in the abdominal area.

A 2001 study of 59 healthy women found that stressed women with high cortisol levels, tended to eat more calories and sugar than those who were not under stress. Eating more calories and sugar will lead to weight gain over the long-term.

When cortisol is high, your body believes it needs to remain alert for any potential threats. Therefore, instead of shedding weight, it will slow down your metabolism and conserve energy in case it does have to react to a potential threat. This mechanism was highly adaptive when there were realistic threats such as predators to deal with regularly, but actually works against us now that we live in a different environment.

The best way to control your cortisol levels is to learn to manage your stress. Daily low-intensity exercise, like walking, reduces stress and lowers cortisol levels. Aim for at least 30-60 minutes of light walking daily to help manage stress and reduce cortisol.

High intensity exercise can actually increase cortisol, so try not to overdo it, especially if you are just starting out. You may also want to consider taking some adaptogen herbs, such as rhodiola, astragalus, and ginseng, to help lower cortisol levels.  Other ways to manage your stress include taking time out for enjoyable activities, meditation/prayer, laughing with friends, or taking a long bubble bath. Make stress management part of your daily routine to help decrease cortisol and help you reach your goals.