3 lifestyle habits to jumpstart your metabolism
“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.”
George Burns; comedian, actor, & musician
In other words, age and genetics to some extent play a role in our metabolism, but it doesn’t mean it has to be an excuse of why we can’t lose weight! It just means we may need to work a little harder in the meantime to change old habits that got us to this place, and truly understand/listen to how our body works. And truth be told… everyone is different. We have different genetic makeups, lifestyle, body types, psyche (i.e. why we’re eating, aka bored versus hunger), and our own unique reasons to why we don't feel like we’re at our best. Fortunately, there are actions you can take that can really maximize your impact in addressing however many reasons may be present (even if we don’t know all of them yet!).
First, the basics- what is metabolism? Metabolism is the cellular and chemical processes required to help an organism maintain life, so this will encompass every organ system, helping us understand why there’s so many approaches to weight loss.
How quickly or slowly these processes occur is mainly controlled by the thyroid gland, located at the base of our neck. The thyroid is under control to some extent by 2 glands in the brain, the hypothalamus and pituitary, and then these either dial up or down thyroid hormone levels depending on the amount of hormones the thyroid secretes. The thyroid secretes predominantly inactive hormone (called T4), and a super tiny amount of active (called T3), yet this inactive hormone gets converted to active hormone mostly in the liver, and a lesser extent in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), pituitary, and skeletal muscle. The liver also helps ensure we don’t have too much (our body really likes balance), so it also makes a few different types of proteins that bind up active thyroid hormone. We now have 4 organ systems involved in metabolism- thyroid, brain, skeletal muscle, and liver.
Metabolism is also affected by stress- whether it’s emotional stress/ruminating thoughts/tasks at hand, living in an urban (versus rural) environment, lifestyle habits (i.e. unhealthy food, alcohol, smoking), or outstanding health concerns. We need stress to survive, but more than what our body can handle redirects resources to healing, rather than our supposed desired out come of losing weight.
Cortisol is our stress hormone, made in the adrenal glands, two glands that sit on top of the kidneys, and part of our ‘fight or flight’ (versus our ‘rest/reproduce and digest’) system. Given life is about balance, clearly we need both. Yet the problem is with the former, as too much cortisol also tells our thyroid to make more of those binding proteins, and to turn T4 into an inactive version- yes, T4 can either become active, or inactive.
Biologically, metabolism also shifts to some extent as we age. Think of how fast we grow in about the first 18 years of life to develop, as after that, we don’t really need it anymore, so our metabolism adjusts. In men, testosterone slowly begins to decline at age 40, and in women there’s also a hormone shift around the transition from pre-menopause to menopause where progesterone plummets, estrogen declines + a shift in a more potent estrogen to a less potent estrogen that contributes to a shift in our figure. Hormones are made in the adrenal glands, reproductive organs, and some can be converted into each other (i.e. testosterone into estrogen).
Add reproductive organs (testes in men, ovaries in women). Also add in fat cells because they’re also pretty active in secreting hormones and cortisol, therefore also impacting thyroid.
That’s at least 8 different organ systems! No wonder there’s such a need to understand the big picture to get results!! And now.. here’s 3 habits that will address all of these at once:
Sleep before 11pm- Cortisol also wakes us up on the morning, and declines throughout the day. Melatonin, a potent antioxidant, rises in the evening, mostly made from 11pm-3am, and helps us sleep so all those hormones (thyroid, testosterone, estrogen, etc.) can renew themselves. Going to bed before that second wind allows for optimal production, and keeps us in rhythm (also decreases cortisol).
Love your liver- Minimizing or cutting out alcohol, sugar, fruit juices- all of these are so sugar heavy that your liver literally goes ‘WTF’ when trying to metabolize all this. And anything extra gets stored as fat, around the body or in organs. The liver is also always working overtime to get rid of toxins, extra hormones, and optimize thyroid hormone, to name a few. Check out this recipe to feed your liver!
Feed your thyroid- Can’t work on the thyroid without the adrenals, so sleep/stress management is imperative. While you’re adding these habits in, our thyroid thrives on nutrients like selenium and iodine, found in kelp, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, poultry, and seaweed. Add these into a smoothie, salad, over sautéed vegetables (especially spinach), and get creative! On the more spiritual side, feed your thyroid with love- are you communicating your best self in the world? Are you speaking your truth? These are questions to ponder, as we know how the mind and body are highly connected.
As you can see, these 3 tips encompass working to promote health on all those different organ systems, so you’re actually much more efficient in your efforts versus adapting the mindset ‘what can I take?’ If you’d like to learn more habits, and get super efficient in tactics, let’s connect on Instagram, where I post daily tips & tricks to keep your metabolism revved up!