Before I’m sore, my body reminds me that I trained legs the previous day. It reminds me in the form of hunger. I’m ready for my second meal before 9am! This helps me believe that it’s not a foregone conclusion that my metabolism will slow down with age. And, belief is huge in terms of how ourgenes play out.
Scientifically, metabolism will slow down when thyroid levels drop…which sounds like medical intervention, but it doesn’t have to be for most of us if we act preemptively. There are three key remedies that have nothing to do with popping a pill, finding the fountain of youth, or…throwing in the towel.
Before I get into these, it’s important to understand that our resting metabolic rate (RMR) is determined by how much lean muscle we hold, our genetics*, and hormonal balances.
*Genetics defined as the natural ability of our body to synthesize protein and assimilate muscle mass.
There are three key strategies we need to nail in our daily lifestyle to rev up our RMR:
1. Strength training, 2. Protein, and…3. Meditation!
1. Strength training…builds or preserves our muscle mass. Incorporate resistance into your workouts…meaning weight-bearing exercise. Not cardio. The stepmill will not build muscle…I don’t care which way you face, if you add a glute squeeze, or how many stairs you skip…the stepmill is a form of cardio. In fact, cardio will lead to muscle loss if you’re not meticulous with your protein intake and weight training.
2. Protein nourishes and repairs…muscle tissue. An imbalanced diet with excessive carbs (especially simple carbs like fruit, sugar, and white bread/rice) will spike blood sugar, trigger insulin, and encourage fat storage.
3. Meditation counteracts…stress and the production of cortisol in our bodies. Stress is a mind-body reaction to not having our needs met. It is a mistriggering of our fight-or-flight response. In preparing for fight-or-flight, our digestion and rejuvenating hormones shut down. In meditation, we reverse this. While sleep is also critical for recovery, sleep is restful dullness. Meditation is restful awareness, training us to stay out of fight-or-flight throughout the day despite the stress triggers we may encounter.
Meditation also changes the behavior of our genes. In the field of epigenetics, belief has been proven to play a powerful role in improving our genetic expression — that is, in the way our genes are silenced ano/or in the way they are expressed. Yoga is particularly effective from an epigenetic standpoint. Connecting movement to breath has a way of allowing things to surface while releasing limiting beliefs of ourselves.
Once we are less stressed, we also tend to make healthier decisions. We appreciate and take care of our bodies through proper nutrition, movement, and rest. Hunger cues are extremely important in fitness. If you’re serious about achieving a certain physique or body fat percentage, you need to pay attention to everything your body is telling you. Not only what it’s telling you today, but how this compares to yesterday or the previous week.
Last week was the first week in over a month that I hit the gym for dedicated lower body training…a.k.a. Legs Day. Between travel, birthday-wedding, and subbing extra classes, I didn’t have either the gym access or sufficient recovery between classes. In my ideal world, I train lower body once a week. My reason is two-fold: to maintain a certain shape in my derrière and to maintain a certain leanness throughout my body. There is no way to achieve roundness of the glutes or a gluteal lift off the hamstrings without weight training. Training lower body is also the best way to get cut all over as it raises growth hormone naturally in your body.
Training lower body, though, is tough stuff. Tough physically because you’re setting out to fatigue the biggest muscle group of the body and form (as in core control, balance, foot placement, alignment, and posture) is critical in lifting both safely and effectively. Tough mentally because you need to increase the physical intensity sufficiently amidst fears and doubts, and what I would refer to as your mental resistance. This naturally increases as the body fatigues and the exercise becomes more physically taxing. This is why it’s great to work with someone who will push you and know better than the naysayers in your head!
In my case, I hit the gym to train lower body with my husband. He knows how to vary the rep and weight range of my workout so I continue to get results. He also gives me an encouraging pat on the back when I’m really struggling. And, if it’s a good lifting session, I am really struggling. That is the point. Getting to failure is so critical for results. Although we never train past the 30 min mark, I’m sore for days.
If you’d like more info on how I train on Legs Day, sign up for Star’s Locker here. This will be the topic in my next weekly email. Until then…
Dream big. Desire more.