Oh, Metabolism. You have been our scapegoat for so many years. Our excuse. Our foe. ‘It’s my metabolism’s fault. I have a slow metabolism. It changed. I can’t eat the way I used to. I try, and gain weight, and blame my metabolism.’
Your metabolism responds based on how you treat it. So be nice.
There are millions upon millions of books and gurus telling you how to “change” your metabolism. This implies that you were somehow given the wrong one and can swap it out for a new, faster model.
Its not about what metabolism you have, its how well you metabolism is functioning.
There is no better way to explain metabolism than with my infamous Furnace Analogy:
Your metabolism is like the fire in the furnace of a train. Just as a furnace burns coal for fuel to power the train, your metabolism burns energy to power your body. To get the most power from that furnace, you must consistently add fuel to the fire to keep it burning its brightest and hottest. If you don’t put fuel in the furnace, the fire will die out, and the train will stop moving. Then if you come back hours later and throw a shovel full of coal on top, it stacks up- it doesn’t burn. If you continue to shovel coal into the unlit furnace, the coal will pile up, storing for future use.
Along the same lines, if you continue to dump more and more coal onto the fire before it has a chance to burn what you have already added, the extra coal will smother that fire and again, begin to pile up. Too little or too much fuel has the same effect on the fire.
If you don’t eat for hours at a time, your metabolism slows down. Then, next time you eat, your body stores that energy for later use, when your metabolism finally (hopefully) starts up again. A slow metabolism causes your body to store food as fuel for later use, just like that train furnace has turned into a coal storage room.
To keep your metabolism running and revved to power your body like an unstoppable calorie burning freight train, you must consistently feed it a steady stream of healthy food. Small meals and snacks evenly spaced throughout the day will keep your metabolism running at its strongest: never letting the fire die down, and never signaling your body to store fuel.
You cannot “change” your metabolism, but you can definitely make it run more efficiently. Then, if you do occasionally dump a wheelbarrow full of coal into your belly, that fire is burning brightly enough to eat it right up- like it never happened.
No guilt, no blame. Now apologize to your metabolism for the emotional abuse you inflicted upon it, the starvation and the binges, and give it a healthy snack.
Kelly Turner is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and health and fitness writer from Seattle, WA. Her writing has appeared in numerous magazines, and she currently blogs for Breathe Magazine, Kidglue.com is the Health and Fitness Expert for Twirlit.com and feature fitness writer for FitPeeps.com. To contact Kelly with any questions, you email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.