The art of metabolism

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Here we go again. A new year is right around the corner. For goal-setters it means, “A new year—and what are you going to do about it?”

For many, an annual resolution is made to lose weight or exercise more. But a heavy price is paid. It can require an enormous amount of effort with limited results, leading to low satisfaction and eventual surrender of the resolution.

This year, don’t tell yourself that you want to lose weight or exercise more. Instead, focus on increasing your metabolism and desiring to feel strong and healthy. The weight loss will come.

There are a few ways to go about increasing metabolism. Research about it, and choose one that works for you. Then tweak it, and tweak it some more until it fits your lifestyle.

In an effort to pique your interest, I’ll share my personal metabolism story. And before I go any further, this is where I tell you that I’m not a doctor, a nutritionist, a fitness instructor or any other kind of expert. Always seek approval from your doctor before beginning any diet or exercise program.   

Firing up your metabolism comes down to building more muscle, pushing yourself to do high-intensity workouts and changing up your diet.

Sounds awful, doesn’t it?

The beauty of increasing your metabolism, though, is that it doesn’t require a great deal of effort.  

Let’s start with the exercise component.

I’m 57 years old. There’s only so much high-intensity aerobics I can handle.

But what I can do is get on the treadmill every Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for 30 minutes. I walk for a half mile, speed walk another half mile, and then push myself to run at a pace that’s difficult for me but one that I can endure for a half mile. That’s followed by a quarter mile slow down and cool down. Presto. On and off the treadmill in about 30 minutes.  

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I lift weights for my arms and upper body strength for about 10 minutes.

What all this means is that I’m only exercising for about two-and-a-half hours every week. That’s not much. Increasing your metabolism doesn’t mean you need to log a lot of miles or gym hours. Just schedule time to do short, high-intensity workouts coupled with some type of regular weight lifting.

Now, for the diet. According to WebMD, “Your body burns many more calories digesting protein than it does eating fat or carbohydrates.” It’s one of the reasons why low-carbohydrate diets have been popular.

There are problems with strictly low-carb diets, though.

For starters, it’s not a lot of fun. Many times, high-carb foods are the foods that comfort us. Potatoes, pastas and breads.  

Another issue is that low-carb diets can become unsustainable. When your body goes a long time without sufficient carbohydrates, it may actually think you’re trying to starve it. When that happens, your metabolism shuts down.

So, instead, I go low-carb on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I incorporate carbohydrates into my meals. The key, here, is don’t go overboard on free carb days. Have one bowl of cereal, granola bar, sandwich, fruit snack, or serving of lasagna—not two. Add a protein option, if still hungry at mealtimes.

One big advantage to this diet plan is not feeling deprived. Knowing that you’re only one or two days away from being able to enjoy deep-dish pizza or a loaded baked potato makes the low-carb days doable.

And that’s it.

By the very nature of this diet and exercise program—the on again, off again carbs and some muscle building—weight will fluctuate slightly. Stay with it. Make a few adjustments, if needed. It will eventually trend toward weight loss.

I lost 14 pounds in four months by focusing on my metabolism. It’s not a spectacular weight loss result, but I feel strong and healthy.  

And happy.

Because it’s not taking that much effort.

There are fitness junkies out there who thrive on long and tough workouts. It’s the best part of their day. There’s a word for these people—“young.”

More power to them. It’s great to be young.

But by increasing your metabolism, it’s not so bad being 57 either.