August 17, 2012

Pressing ‘Reset’ On Your Metabolism

For years, every day looked like a similar version of this:

Wake up, petrified of what I was capable of in the kitchen.  If I felt good, I might have enough willpower not to annihilate everything in the fridge.  If I didn't feel good and the monster took over, I'd binge until my tummy hurt, and once I'd binged, my day was shot.  I'd usually steal food from whoever I was rooming with at the time, maybe make a stop at a fast food restaurant or two.  This would continue all day long and late into the night.  I'd end up checking out in front of the television, watching all the happy, gorgeous, skinny people, feeling depressed that I wasn't one of them.  That, of course, would bring on another victim binge until, once again, I'd swear to myself in anger and self-hatred, “This is the last time, Christa!  The very last time!”

It was never the last time, though.  No matter how hard I tried, controlling food never worked.  Food controlled me.

Then came the ‘fixing.'  In order to make up for the mess I'd made, I'd skip meals the next day, sometimes not eating anything at all.  Sometimes I'd have ‘dried fruit and nut' fixit days, sometimes I'd just drink juice.  Sometimes I'd work out longer than anyone should ever work out.  This always gave me a sense of power and accomplishment.  “See, you can control food, Christa!”  Nope, this never lasted either.  My life yo-yoed between the two harsh extremes of binging and starving.

And because I'd abused my body for over a decade, my metabolism was officially shot.

When I checked myself into treatment for an eating disorder back in 1999, I was mortified that I would not only be required to eat 3 large meals a day, but also 2 high calorie snacks in between.  And being one of the only overweight girls amongst rail thin anorexics and ultra skinny bulimics, this was enough to make me want to bury my head in the sand and never see the light of day again.  In fact, I tied a sweater around my waist every day, embarrassed and ashamed at the size of my backside.  But somehow–miraculously–I began to lose weight, eating things I never used to allow myself to eat (unless I was being bad).  I was eating all the time.

My metabolism was resetting, and it began to work as it was intended to.

Your metabolism is a process that determines how quickly your body turns calories into energy.  Every time your body digests food, it ramps up your metabolic rate.  You use energy and burn fat when you are working out or digesting food, but you also burn fat when you are resting.  You see, your metabolism is like a fire, and in order to keep that fire going, you have to keep logs on the fire or it dies down.  When you wake up in the morning and put a log on the fire of your metabolism by eating a good breakfast, your metabolism goes up.  At 10 am when you eat that snack, your metabolism stays up until lunch when you put another log on the fire.  Then you keep it up with an afternoon snack, heading into dinner.  The reason I began to lose fat while eating good meals and snacks all day was simply because my metabolism stayed up, causing my body to burn the fat reserves that were stored on my body.

If you skip meals, your metabolism lowers and your body goes into starvation mode.

For example, if you skip breakfast to make up for the bad day you had before, by lunch, your body has learned that food isn't consistent.  So when you give your tummy lunch, it stores the calories as fat instead of burning it as fuel.  Eating 5-6 times a day tells your body, “Hey, you're not going to starve.  There's always going to be the fuel that you need, so go ahead and burn this junk instead of storing it on my boo-tay!”  (My body sometimes talks this way, and I'm sure yours does, too).

Now, what you didn't hear me say is, “Go crazy, eat terrible foods with empty calories and lots of sugar, and have as many helpings as you want.”  In fact, the more you know you're getting a snack in a few hours, the easier it is to say no to that second helping and poor choices.  Give your body what it needs right then, knowing that more is coming very soon.

Here's some great tips to help reset and boost your metabolism:

1.  Drink lots of water.  

You can never have enough water!  And your body actually needs water to process calories.  Try drinking a glass of water before you eat, and up your water intake to at least 8 glasses a day.  Next time you reach for that soda or diet soda (don't even get me started, but at some point I will), enjoy a glass of water instead!

2.  Prepare snacks in advance.  

I never go anywhere without a baggie of almonds and raisins in my purse, or a good Odwalla bar, bag of prunes (yep, I said it), or a piece of fruit, maybe some chips.  Make sure your snacks have a protein and a carb.  For instance, if I eat an apple, I always eat a piece of cheese with it.  The apple takes my blood sugar up, the fats in the cheese keep it regulated.  (I'll talk more about blood sugar in another post).  If you eat dried fruits, make sure you have some sort of nut or seed with it so the fats balance the sugar.

3.   Build muscle.

Muscle burns fat calories like crazy!  If it's between cardio or lifting weights, I like to lift weights or do hot yoga.  If you're doing exercises to build muscle, you're getting your heart rate up anyway!  Now, as a new mommie, workouts are few and far between, so I squat when I can, and of course, pick up my 17 lb son all day long!

4.  Spice up your meal.

Yep, that's right.  Spicy foods contain chemical compounds that kick your metabolism up into high gear.  So the next time you eat Thai, order extra hot!


Whatever you do, DON'T SKIP MEALS!  Skipping meals is the worst thing you can do for your metabolism, which means, all that good you think you're doing by eating LESS is actually hurting you.  Your body won't burn your next meal, it will store it in the places you'd rather it not.  (:

Try these small tips for a week and see if they make a difference in your energy level.  And remember, have grace for yourself in the journey.  You might have had years destroying your metabolism–it might take a little time to get it back on track. But no matter what you've done to your body, it's incredibly resilient.  I promise.

On Monday, we're going to get to the heart of the problem–the reasons behind the eating.

xx, Christa

6 Responses to “Pressing ‘Reset’ On Your Metabolism”

  1. LeQuichea Landaverde

    Thank you for writing this God just told me not to focus on dieting right now and just to live and so I’m freaking because im like I eat to much OMG but what you said makes so much sense and and actually makes me feel better about me. Lol thank you.

  2. Lauren Cunningham

    These are great tips, Christa. I’m on a journey to slim down, being guided by the Lord, in a desire to dethrone food as an idol. This entire summer has been dedicated to spending time in the classroom of the Holy Spirit and the Lord’s Presence rediscovering my identity as His daughter. It has totally wrecked my being to the core and I am addicted to finding out who I am and living in the fullness of all that that looks like. Seriously, there’s nothing better, sweeter, or more worthwhile! I love reading your heart. Thanks so much for refusing to give into a life of counterfiet and leading thousands into the heart of God. Many blessings to you, Lucas, and Moses!

  3. I think a lot of people can relate to your writing. I read your book and liked that it was a lot of experiences people can understand and relate to. I even play the violin so thought that was cool too. I found the book online when I was searching for information on ED’s. I always remembered the speaker that came to our health class in high school and told us you can “keep it in check” but never get rid of it. It never left for her and she gained weight in treatment. I’m now a college student and still never forgot how discouraging that was. It means a lot to me to see that someone got through it and didn’t gain weight or struggle forever. Anyways, thanks for your writing about something that’s not easy to open up about. Your book was inspiring. Just out of curiosity, why’d you say in this blog not to get you started on soda? I drink like six diet cokes a day lol it’s pretty much my favorite thing ever.

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