I do not know where some of my belief systems grew out of, but one thing I know is that when I believe in something, it takes a "crane" to pull me away from it.
My husband has tried to convince me since time immemorial that to keep my weight constant, I need to do exercise. I have never been overweight and was quite athletic when I was in high school. People kept telling me that I had a high metabolism. I did not bother to find out what that meant. It must have been something good since it was told to me as a compliment.
I had a very strong belief that to lose unwanted weight, we simply needed to go on a diet. The day finally arrived when I started to put on unwanted weight at thirty five! It seemed like an unseen force was pulling everything downwards. My arms started to get thinner at the top and wider as it descended towards my elbow. My hips and thighs began to get bigger and seemed to be getting lower. At the rate everything was going, I thought for sure my thighs would end up at my ankles! I thought it would be as easy ABC. I decided that all I would do was to go on a diet. I started off by skipping breakfast. My husband gingerly (He is a sensitive man) told me that may be I should start exercising. He told me that skipping breakfast was the worst thing I could do to lose weight. It did not make much sense. How could eating less not help me lose weight?
I swallowed my pride and got an aerobics tape. I started to do vigorous exercises. I stepped on the scale everyday to see whether I was losing weight. Horror of all horrors! I started to get heavier and heavier! I was now totally confused. I stopped doing the aerobics and decided to research on weight loss and exercising.
This is what I found out. Metabolism is the rate at which your body burns calories to sustain life. Our bodies burn calories 24 hours a day, everyday regardless of whether or not we work out. Our bodies need energy all the time, even while we are asleep and that is why skipping meals is the absolute worst thing we can do if our goal is to lose weight. Whatever affects metabolism will affect our weight. Top of the list of what affects metabolism is muscle tissue! The more muscle we have, the more calories we burn regardless of how active we are or how old we are. It is live tissue and it is there working for us and burning calories 24 hours a day each and every day!
Why does metabolism slow down? I had heard it said over and over that as soon as one hits 30, their metabolism slows down. Research has proved that metabolism does not slow down due to age, but due to a lack of muscle. Our activity level tends to decrease as we get older. As we become inactive, our muscle turns to fat, and fat does not burn calories.
Skipping meals also slows down the metabolism. Food is designed to give the body energy. When there is too little energy from food for the work that the body needs to do, it slows down the metabolism to conserve energy. If this is prolonged, then the body will use up the muscle for energy! As the muscle disappears, so does the ability to burn calories!
Why did I start to get heavier as I did aerobic exercises? I began to develop more muscle and muscle is heavier than fat! I have kept with my aerobic exercises and instead of skipping meals, I am now eating frequent smaller meals to keep the metabolism high. This seems to have stopped my flesh gradually being "pulled towards the floor". People are telling me that I have lost a lot of weight although the bathroom scale is not as generous with the praise. I feel good and look great! Exercise is now very important to me.
Nellie Odhuno Shani is a Counselor, Conference speaker and writer. Her first books are available on amazon.com, Barnes and Nobles and on her author's websites.
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