Hi. I’m Erica.
I graduated Johns Hopkins University and I’m not a doctor.
Truthfully, I had to preface this post with this disclaimer because I’m diving into a touchy subject.
Metabolism is a layered discussion, to say the least. There’s mental, physical and clinical pieces that swirl into its complexity.
And you guessed it: I’m here to only discuss the mental and physical components.
Again, I’m not a fucking doctor.
Rather, I’m a strength and conditioning coach with a Master’s degree, six years of coaching experience, affinity for exercise and nutrition, quirky love for Sci-Fi books, and addiction to drinking black coffee in hipster cafes.
All of these things make me legit to discuss metabolism.
While I believe the clinical side of it is important to address, especially when it comes to nailing down the effects of hormones on weight loss, I believe people need to hammer home the mental and physical aspects first before phoning their doctors.
More often than not, people claim they’re doing everything right in the physical and mental realms, yet their metabolism is stalled and they still aren’t reaching their weight loss goals.
Let me ask you this: are you *really* doing everything right?
Hold onto to your answer here and get back to me at the end of this article.
Let’s get started on the components of metabolism that you *should* be doing right:
How much are you strength training? If you said at minimum 2-3x a week, you’re onto something magical.
Now don’t get me wrong, 1x a week is better than nothing. But in order to truly build muscle, burn fat, and boost your metabolism, strength training must progress and be done a few times a week. Consistently.
Even if you’re doing it 2-3x a week for the long haul, are you challenging yourself and pushing your system into new adaptations? In other words, are you progressing with heavier weight, more volume, metabolic conditioning, paused reps, or eccentrics? (READ MORE on progressing your workouts)
As strength coach Tony Gentilcore says, “lifting weights isn’t supposed to tickle.”
There’s some degree of intensity that needs to be sprinkled in to sizzle your metabolism.
Push heavy shit. Pull heavy shit. Push heavy shit explosively. Pull heavy shit fast. This is what gets your metabolism amped up.
Strength, power, high intensity interval work, and sprints are a great start.
In other words, this ain’t about going through the motions. It’s about making your unique system more efficient and hard working at burning fat and holding onto muscle.
More hard working = more calories burned.
With that said, this ain’t Candyland. Or Disneyworld. Or Tone It Up. Or BeachBody.
This is the fucking meat factory.
So build muscle. Challenge yourself. PROGRESS YOUR LOAD.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Like anything in life – a diamond undergoing stress to be shaped, or a rock being chiseled with a tool to form a sculpture – your body must undergo load to be formed.
Ain’t physics a mind fuck? (Read more here on Wolff’s Law and the SAID Principle that explains this phenomenon).
With that said, my body wouldn’t have the definition it does if I didn’t do crazy shit like this:
So how hard are you going?
Now, this isn’t to say go all-out every day, but keep in mind there needs to be progressive overload over time.
Because this much I know: there’s nothing wrong with getting strong.
Are you moving daily? Or are you sitting on your ass watching West World?
Are you using your hour lunch break to go for a walk, or sit in the Wendy’s drive through?
Are you doing yoga before bed, or scrolling through Instagram like a mindless piece of shit?
Excuse the tough love, but any movement, even if it is easy, free, and effortless, is a win.
To that end, daily movement in the form of unstructured exercise is critical. This could mean going for a leisurely walk, biking to work instead of driving, or taking your kids to the playground instead of movies.
Or doing naked yoga in your bedroom.
Sorry I’m not naked. Get your mind out of the gutter.
I can’t reiterate enough how important it is to move.
That’s what your body is made for, right?
Eventually, more daily movement compounds over time, just like a FitBit accumulating thousands of steps over time.
It’s all good in my book to make itty bitty strides each day toward more movement.
So get out there and move…like a human should.
Is your mind right? Meaning…
Are you calm and able to reach a parasympathetic state?
Or are you worked up, constantly stressed, jacked up in a sympathetic state, and shooting chronic cortisol through the roof?
If you answered yes to the latter, it may be time to check in with yourself and chill the fuck out.
Since I’m not a doctor, I don’t want to get into the cortisol discussion too much.
But here’s what you need to know: chronic cortisol is a metabolic recipe for disaster. You’re more likely to hold onto fat and not reach your weight loss goals.
So here’s some advice on calming down:
– Go for slow, long walks.
– Listen to classical music.
– Have a spa day.
– Turn off your phone and read before bed.
– Get quality sleep.
– Do diaphragmatic breathing during workouts
– Do diaphragmatic breathing during work
– Do diaphragmatic breathing during an argument with your spouse
These are just a few ideas to get started on your journey to living more in your Zen.
Enjoy. And chill out.
Recently, I’ve become a nutrition nerd.
Not because I can list the benefits of every vitamin and mineral backwards, or win an argument against a Vegan, or cuddle with the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics during my sleep.
Rather, I truly enjoy the behavior change side of it all and nerd out on it A LOT.
Granted, the science and facts behind nutrition are cool, but there’s only so much we can tell people shit they can Google.
“Hey Google, what’s better: broccoli or beer?”
Fuck outta here.
Everyone knows broccoli has more nutritional value than beer, or eating a turkey sandwich with veggies is better for performance than a Cronut.
The real question is: how is one going to end their shitty habit of stuffing toxic, breaded, and sugary grease to the face?
This component becomes far more important than knowing what is healthy and unhealthy. We all know. If we don’t, Google can tell us.
In order to boost your metabolism, nutrition must be seen as a habit. What are you going to eat day in and day out to elevate your mindset? To boost your energy? To fill you with life? To fuel your performance and high intensity workouts?
Again, your metabolism will thank you.
So after reading the points above, do you *really* have these dialed in? Or are you lying to yourself?
I think ya’ll are lying to yourselves.
This isn’t something to take with offense, but rather, to take to heart and propel yourself toward a healthier life. Because sometimes, you need a punch packed with love to make a radical change.
So master these bullet points first.
Then, if your metabolism doesn’t budge, it may be time to call a doctor, as deeper, medical issues may be the cause of your weight loss plateaus.
Again, the clinical side is out of my scope, but I do have a number of Hopkins friends who are doctors. Let me know if you need someone. ;-O
Hope this helped. 🙂