Have you noticed lately that looking in the mirror or at a recent photograph of yourself isn’t quite the reflection you thought you were projecting a few years ago? While you continue to be careful about what you eat, cutting carbs, minding processed foods, adding more veggies to your diet, and you try to stay on track with the same workout routine that you have had for years, somehow your body is reacting in a totally unrecognizable way. The body you have been trusting to react positively to your cautious calorie restrictions and daily beatings is now turning on you. Why is your body betraying you? The culprit is a slowing metabolism. Here are its three main instigators and how we can battle the betrayal!
INSTIGATOR #1: AGE. As we age, our ability to use up energy decreases and our metabolism slows down. Our muscle mass tends to decrease as we get older too. While we can’t change the physical reality of aging and how our cells will perform, we CAN increase our muscle mass to keep our metabolism buzzing. Lifting weights is a great way to build muscle. You will get the best results by either training the whole body in a single workout or splitting the work into upper body one day, lower body the next. Concentrate on lifts that involve lots of muscles at once, such as squats, dead lifts, presses, rows and pull ups. Don’t be discouraged by the idea of getting big bulky muscles! That only happens in the movies, or with lots of steroid use. What you will get is a lean, no flab, no jiggle form, with bonus extra strength and a metabolic boost that lasts long beyond the workout.
INSTIGATOR #2: REDUCED ACTIVITY. Very often we get “too busy” to stay on track with our workout plan, and end up missing a few sessions here and there. We then get used to a little less activity, and before you know it, your original plan to prioritize exercise is a whole different plan to prioritize everything else but exercise. One of the main reasons that people stop working out, other than incessant time constraints, is that they get bored with their routine. Change it up! Ask a personal trainer at your gym to give you a new routine to follow based on your personal objectives and your current level of fitness, take that zumba class, try pilates, spin a little, learn to use kettlebells, join a group training session a few times a week, anything to mix it up. Find a few friends that might be going through the same thing (and who isn’t?), and get them involved in training together. Training with friends is fun, effective, and will keep you motivated.
INSTIGATOR #3: STRESS. When your anxiety rises, your body releases cortisol, a hormone produced by the adrenal system with a proven link to weight gain. Of course we can’t just eliminate all stress from our lives, I mean, what are you going to do- get rid of your job, your kids, your house, your car, your bills, your mother in law, your future, your laundry, your calendar of conflicting appointments, and add more time to your day? No you can’t. Tempting, but no you can’t. Here is what you CAN do: Prioritize all the things you need to get done, both personal and work related. Having a plan will give you some peace, and make sure you make progress. Put this as the top of the list: Get regular exercise, and get regular sleep. Exercise and rest will put you in a much more positive frame of mind, which will make dealing with all the other stressors much easier.