We are entering what is called the "holiday season". Even if you don't participate in a specific holiday, you may still get those family invites to big home cooked dinners and you eat and totally enjoy them. What about those commercials that advertise sumptuous pastries, golden turkeys, rich dressing, mouth-watering casseroles, home baked bread, etc. And of course, you don't turn anything down.
By January, you start thinking about losing a little weight. I have read some articles about why it may be difficult to lose weight. Dieters tend to blame slow metabolism, the rate at which your body uses energy, for difficulty in weight loss. This is a possibility in some cases, but there are also ways in which we can boost our metabolism.
1. Age is a factor. As we get older our cells metabolize less rapidly. Also older people may have less muscle mass than younger ones. Whereas we can't change our age, we can try to add some aerobic activity and maybe some strengthening exercises to our routine several times a week.
2. Stress makes your body release cortisol, a hormone that is linked to weight gain. The remedy is to try to calm yourself by reducing controllable stressors in your life. Each one of us should be able to identify our indivudual stressors. Again, regular physical activity is helpful.
3. Poor sleep habits can alter you body's processes enough to make you susceptible to weight gain. To increase the chances of boosting metabolism, adults should get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. In this fast-paced culture, that may not be realistic for many. The key is to try to get enough sleep so that you feel well-rested in the morning.
4. Lack of exercise pulls your metabolism down. There is evidence that exercise not only helps you burn calories, it may actually increase your resting metabolic rate. It can't be over-emphasized, exercise is highly important for health, boosted metabolism, and weight control. My physician suggested I exercise by walking at least 30 minutes, 4 times a week. I'm still working on this suggestion.
5. Dieting in an extreme fashion by severely restricting your calories or skipping meals is detrimental and self-defeating. It causes your metabolism to slow down. Eating small meals throughout the day is best. Skipping meals or undereating can make you more likely to overeat at your next meal.
6. Illnesses caused by some medical conditions can make losing weight more difficult. If you have hypothyroidism or if you are a man with low testosterone levels, your body functions slow down and weight gain results. Make sure your doctor has screened you for these conditions.
The bottom line is, if we don't want our waistline to get larger this season, increase the amount of exercise we do, remove controllable stressors, get enough sleep, and rule out any medical condition. Another helpful tool not mentioned above is to use moderation in our eating habits, no matter how tasty and tempting the items on the table are.
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