Learn from my mistakes, and be kind to your metabolism.
Before I get into how I ruined mine, let’s go over what I mean when I say the word ‘metabolism.’
Most people just think of burning calories when they think of metabolism. But actually, your metabolism is much more involved than that.
Your metabolism is how your body converts nutrients into energy at the cellular level. Your metabolism involves your liver, brain, thyroid, digestion system, and other parts of the body. You see, every single function in your body depends on energy conversion to do their job.
Symptoms of a Poor Metabolism:
- Cold hands and feet (in other words, intolerance to cold)
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Mood instability
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
- Poor digestion
- Food sensitivities
- Brittle nails and hair
- Chronic fatigue
- Low body temperature
Symptoms of a Healthy Metabolism
- Normal body temperature
- Level moods
- Ability to handle stress well
- Healthy hair, skin and nails
- Excellent digestion and bowel movements
- Consistent energy
- Stable blood sugar
- Balanced hormones; healthy sex drive
Food rules can go to hell.
Following food and health “rules” totally ruined my metabolism. Fo’ realz. There is SO MUCH health advice out there that even if you wanted to, you couldn’t follow everything you heard. Also, much of that advice conflicts with one another. So, what’s a person to do?
Well, before I give you my tips for how I found balance in the crazy-health-bonanza world, let’s go over the five ways I actually ruined my metabolism.
5 Ways I Ruined my Metabolism
1. NOT EATING ENOUGH CALORIES
You’re probably wondering if you read that sentence correctly. You did.
Most people think that as a general rule, we here in America eat too many calories. The truth is, a lot of people will go between eating a high number of calories with a low nutrient-density and eating a low number of calories while trying to “diet” and repent of their evil ways. Even if they’re foods with a high nutrient density, this high-to-low seesaw is incredibly harmful. You aren’t eating enough nutrients and calories that matter, and in the end, your metabolism will go kaput.
Before I reached my weight loss final destination, I hit up a few diet pit stops along the way. Let me tell you, they really didn’t do anything but put more miles on my odometer. Had I known that my body needed to eat real food (including plenty of fats, carbs and protein), I probably would have lost weight faster, enjoyed life a bit more, and avoided jacking up my metabolism.
Now I enjoy eating as much food as I want until I feel full. I just focus on eating real food. That’s the key.
2. NOT SLEEPING ENOUGH
Ah, sleep. I’ve always thought it’s weird how we have to hibernate for a 1/3 of our day, every single day. It seem so sci-fi, you know? Maybe that’s why I’ve always taken sleep for granted. There are times I think I don’t need it.
Well, I found out pretty quickly that the human body needs sleep. There’s no way around it. Did you know that sleep deprivation is actually a form of war torture? Whoa. Sleep just got real.
The human body uses sleep to recover and rebuild itself. It uses sleep to reduce cortisol stress levels and basically help you cope with life. If you want energy during the day, you need to give your body what it needs at night. I try to shoot for 8-9 hours, and I really try to get in bed by 10 pm. And when I say 10 pm, I really mean 11 pm. Hey, I’m a work in progress.
One thing I should mention is that the whole “I’m a night owl” argument isn’t really true. I used to claim I was a night owl, hoping in some way this would prove I wasn’t able to change and could continue staying up late. It’s true in the fact that those who feel more energy (a.k.a. a cortisol spike) in the evenings tend to suffer from a low metabolism, but it’s not really a tendency you’re “born with.” Being a night owl is a self-taught habit, not a natural state.
Lately we have been getting the best sleep of our lives on our new organic Intellibed mattress. It really makes sure our bodies are perfectly supported and restored every night. If you have trouble with insomnia, you definitely need to check out this book!. Because sleep is too important, ya’ll.
3. DRINKING TOO MUCH WATER.
You just spit your water out all over the computer, didn’t you? I hate to dash all the hopes and dreams of every nutritionist and trainer who ever lived, but yes.There is such a thing as drinking too much water. And yes, most people who are health conscious do it.
The phrase “Once you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated” caught on faster than “All that and a bag of chips.” And yet it’s completely wrong.
When I heard that water had the ability to clear my skin, help me lose weight, increase my digestion, ease my PMS, make my husband pick up his socks, and clear every toxin from my body I’d ever acquired, I was all over water. Time to drink all the water!!
I went way past the 8 glasses of water a day. I was in the 1-gallon-a-day club, and I’d drink the first 1/2 gallon before breakfast. I was peeing more than Seabiscuit, which was annoying. But I had read that once I was thirsty, I was already dehydrated, so I made sure my body was never thirsty.
Even when I started to have cold hands and feet, headaches, light-headedness, brittle nails, poor digestion, allergies, and mood swings, I kept right on chugging that water. I kept doing it until I found someone who knocked some common sense into me.
Overhydration (and overdilution of extracellular fluid) is MUCH more common in the water-loving, dehydration-panicked, salt-phobic realm of the modern internet- scouring health nerd, and the symptoms of overhydration/dilution trump that of being mildly dehydrated by a long shot – typically existing on a near constant basis and creating suffering daily at one or more points during the day.
Forcing yourself to meet some quota of fluids, drinking because you think you should, having a hot beverage because you are cold – this is very powerfully depleting and can trigger some real health problems in someone in a compromised metabolic condition. – Matt Stone, Eat for Heat
Now, I trust in my metabolic changes and am aware when I need more water, or need more mineral rich drinks/foods to support my metabolic functions.
Water clearly plays an important role in our bodies and hydration is critical for good metabolic health. But we should always be aiming for balance, not just more is better. And with water, balance is key. Hydrate the wrong way, and you can actually promote metabolic imbalances and even stress your metabolism. – Elizabeth Walling, The Nourished Metabolism
If you don’t agree with me on this one, try reading these articles as a follow up. Feel free to leave a comment!
- 8 Reasons NOT To Drink 8 glasses of Water a Day
- Are you drinking too much water?
- Hydration 101: How much water should you be drinking?
- The Water Myth
Did you know that I once did a 30 day juice fast? Yes. For 30 days I drank nothing but freshly squeezed green juices. It was something I did in an attempt to cleanse my body of toxins. While it probably did that, it also wreaked havoc on my health.
Once I was reminded that the body needs a correct sodium balance in and around each cell in to perform at its best level, I realized that juicing throws this off balance. Juice from plants is very low in sodium and draws fluid out of the cells. While this may seem like a “thumbs up” to those afraid of sodium, denying the body of a proper cellular fluid balance damages the body’s ability to function normally.
The extracellular fluid inside our bodies is not 100% water, but a mixture of many minerals. There’s calcium, sodium and potassium in there, as well as a small amount of glucose. We are taught that over-hydration is impossible, but it’s simply not true. Juicing is similar to over-hydrating. Over-hydration can lead to electrolyte imbalance, headaches, muscle spasms, insomnia, fatigue, low body temperature, suppressed metabolism, and weight gain.
The body is great at regulation. When our bodies need more food, we feel hunger. When our bodies need more water, we feel thirsty.
Salt acts as a thermogenic substance in the body, which means it increases your energy expenditure and heat production. In short, salt actually raises your metabolic rate. Salt works to lower stress hormones and also raises oxytocin levels, which can lift your moods and give you a feeling of well-being. This is why eating enough salt is an important key to achieving a nourished metabolism: by lowering stress hormones and raising the metabolic rate, salt can resolve a myriad of metabolic issues like cold hands and feet, low moods, poor stress tolerance, insomnia, and many more. – Elizabeth Walling, The Nourished Metabolism
5. MESSING AROUND WITH FAD DIETS
If you’re anything like me, you’ve dabbled in your fair share of fad diets. My 30 day juice fast and my obsession with drinking copious amounts of water are two examples. Diets are just a method of forcing your body to compensate by denying it something. The human body is AMAZING at compensation. The problem is, compensation is a lot like telling a white lie. Eventually it leads to another white lie… and another white lie… and another, until the whole situation goes kaput.
If your body perceives what you’re going through as stress, then in the long run, it will cause you more harm than good. Today I eat a real food diet, and avoid fads and crazy food rules like the plague. This is the surest way to preserve my metabolism long term, and keep the mitochondrial energy production steady.
I’ve recently joined this Thyroid Program and have been experiencing great results!
What are my tips for a healthy metabolism?
Read my follow-up article, 5 Ways I Improved My Metabolism!