Earlier this year, I interviewed twenty women ages 30-70 and asked what they needed to do to lose weight. Almost everyone gave me the same two answers: fewer calories and more exercise. If this is true, then why do so many women hang on to excess weight even when they exercise regularly and eat so few calories?
It’s a sad fact of life that our metabolisms slow as we age. My advice: don’t consider too many calories and/or too little exercise as your root causes for excess weight. Without a doubt, both are important for weight loss, but I challenge you to start thinking about what else is preventing you from achieving your goal weight. Could other causative factors be at play? What about…
- Cellular inflammation?
- Emotional stress?
- Toxic overload?
- Gut dysbiosis?
- Insulin resistance? This is a huge one. Currently, 1/3 of our population has diabetes or pre-diabetes. Women become more insulin resistant around age 35-40 due to a drop in insulin-protective hormones progesterone and estrogen.
Often, excess weight arises from a combination of many factors. Personally, I did not achieve sustainable weight loss until I addressed my root causes, which included stress, poor nutrition, and high toxicity levels (to name a few). Before that, I was doing hard-core workouts six days a week and heavily restricting my diet, but I couldn’t significantly budge my weight. Anything I lost, I’d put right back on within a week of normal eating. However, once I addressed my root causes, I dropped 15 lbs in 3 months and have stayed at my goal weight ever since.
As you begin pondering your root causes for excess weight, here are four simple ways to boost your metabolism in the meantime. These four healthy habits will give you a head start, but ultimately, you need to get on top of your root causes And if this feels like an overwhelming task, then I invite you to come work with me.
1. Get some easy movement in 20-40 minutes after a meal
Notice that I said easy movement, not intense exercise. Intense exercise can be highly stressful on an already stressed body, leading to more inflammation. I recommend gentler forms of exercise like walking or yoga, or even simple daily activities where you expend energy, such as gardening or getting the mail.
Why 20-40 minutes after a meal? Your blood sugar rises after eating, making it a great time for your muscles to use that blood glucose as fuel. As we age, we become more insulin resistant, and you want the blood sugar to be absorbed and used by the cells. Too much sugar in the blood can put you at risk for chronic conditions like diabetes, fatty liver disease, and obesity.
Here are additional suggestions to get you moving. If you don’t have a lot of time, even five (okay, two) minutes count!
- Park your car in the furthest possible parking spot
- Pace during a phone call
- Prep some fresh vegetables for a future meal
- Vacuum the house or car
- Fold laundry while standing up
2. Strength train for 15-20 minutes, 2-3x a week
Just 20 minutes of targeted strength training can boost your metabolism for up to 2 hours! The more muscle you have, the better your metabolism function, and the more calories you burn without moving. If you want changes to happen, then you must build those muscles!
Worried about finding time? Start with once a week, then work your way up. The best time to strength train is in the morning, when cortisol (the stress hormone) is highest. Working out with higher cortisol gives you more lasting energy throughout the day, preventing the depleted feeling after a workout.
If lifting weights is intimidating or if you don’t own weights, try Pilates or yoga. Here are a variety of strength training videos that I use:
- Upper Body Blast Workout from Bodyfit by Amy(22 minutes) – I love Amy. She has a lot of low impact workouts that feel safe and doable.
- Pilates Butt and Thigh Workout from Fitness Blender (15 minutes) – Pilates is my favorite way to strengthen and tone without weights. For those who don’t know Fitness Blender, it’s run by a husband and wife who have a workout video for everything. You can find a video for practically any type of exercise, any body part, any duration.
- Adriene’s Power Yoga break(17 minutes) – Adriene is the #1 YouTube yoga instructor, and that’s because she’s authentic, goofy, and wonderfully supportive. If you’re interested in yoga and haven’t tried it before, I suggest her Yoga for Complete Beginners video.
- Adriene’s Yoga for Upper Body Strength (13 minutes)
3. Start your morning with 32 oz (1 quart) of purified water
Increased hydration enhances the function of mitochondria, which provides energy for the cells and increases metabolism. You should be drinking half your body weight in oz every day. For example, if you’re 170 lbs, you should be drinking 85 oz of water a day. That’s a lot. So why not knock out a good chunk of it first thing in the morning?
For people who have a hard time drinking plain water, I suggest adding in one of the following for an extra health boost:
- Juice from one whole lemon – Taken first thing in the morning, lemon juice stimulates the liver to flush out toxins.
- A dash of cayenne pepper – Cayenne has chemical constituents to boost metabolism
- 5-6 Thyme sprigs – Add this antiviral herb to your water the night before and then remove in the morning before drinking. Thyme pairs well with lemon.
- Cucumbers, berries, ginger root, mint, basil, and other herbs are also great.
4. Get high-quality supplementation that covers all the nutritional bases
So many people take fractionated supplementation to boost their metabolism and energy levels. Some take magnesium, others take a B Complex, and still more take an iron supplement. While these are all helpful (provided they are good quality), doesn’t it make more sense to get everything your body needs in the right ratio and not just one or two key nutrients?
For your metabolism (and your body in general) to function optimally, you need a combination of 90 vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids. Unfortunately, the soil that grows our food doesn’t have the same level of nutrition that it did 50 years ago. It’s impossible to get all the nutrition we need from food, so our best option is to get it from supplements. The problem is that we’re often shooting in the dark, buying pills from online megastores who don’t give two hoots about quality, not to mention your personalized health needs and goals.
For the last year, I’ve been getting marvelous results from a brand of supplements formulated by a 25-year-old company founded by a visionary naturopath. These highly researched and 3rd-party tested supplements contain 90 essential nutrients and have excellent bioavailability, balanced cofactors, and cover the entire cellular need. Even better, the supplements come personalized by your very own health coach, who cares specifically about your goals, needs, and driving results.
The supplements have transformed my health so much that I got an additional health coaching certification from the Institute of Wholistic Health so I could help others benefit from these supplements as well. I invite you to contact me specifically about these supplements if you’re interested. At this time, I’m offering free consultations for people who would like to work on their health goals through supplementation, in addition to my free initial consultations for health coaching. Although I believe that supplementation is only a piece of the overall health puzzle, I think it’s a great and easy way to get started.