Make Peace, Not War. With Your Body That Is.
You’ll often hear me say, “the better you understand your body, the better you can care for it.” There’s a lot of truth to that.
I’m a hippie at heart. Not so much the psychedelics and “free love” kind of hippie, though I can’t definitively say I wouldn’t have partaken had I been part of the original movement.
As a modern hippie (of sorts), I often take a basic understanding of biology for granted. The cycle of life and all things that comprise living beings is something I’m deeply attuned to, and I often forget to return to the foundations when sharing my work with the world. I aim to rectify some of that oversight here today.
One such foundation is the basics of how our body works. Fact is that most people don’t know how their body works, resulting in their having more of a “Me versus It” viewpoint which injects one into a lose-lose tug-of-war that lasts a lifetime. And creates an epic level of fallout along the way. More often than not, people think it is an “either / or” conversation when in fact it is a “both / and” one.
There are countless things at work every single second in the human body. Awake or asleep, the operating system is a flurry of activity. Much of which we cannot control in any way, shape or form.
This is where knowing what to focus on and why, takes its place at the top of the priorities’ list as a critical factor to finding a sense of peace within.
One thing we have 100% control over when it comes to our body is our metabolism. Well, close to 100% is more like it. Now that I think about it, control may be too strong a term. Let’s go with influence and call it good. Deal?
Most people don’t know what their metabolism really is and all that it does, let alone the fact that they can control more than they can’t when it comes to how their body is fueled. Your metabolism is in charge of so much more than just your weight. In fact, your metabolism runs the Big Show. Nonetheless, the happenings at work behind the metabolic curtain are a mystery to most.
To add murkiness to the confusion surrounding all things metabolism, Conventional Wisdom has had it wrong for so long. It’s no wonder there’s so much head-scratching surrounding the topic.
When I say “metabolism”, what comes to mind?
If you’re like most folks who answer that question, you thought of something to do with your weight, and how to “lose” it. Weight loss, fat loss more accurately, is just one part of the metabolic puzzle. And a teensy one at that.
When it comes to fat loss, we’ve had it all wrong. Not by choice, we’ve done what the so-called “experts” told us to do. And it does not work.
“Eat less, move more.”
“Eat every 2-3 hours to stoke the metabolism.”
“Burn more calories than you take in.” (That has some truth to it, but it’s not a simple math equation like you are led to believe.)
And here’s another oldie but goodie, “Avoid cholesterol and saturated fat. They clog your arteries.” (This one has NO truth to it.)
Now if you took Conventional Wisdom at their word, you’d think cholesterol dons a dark cloak and wields a sickle.
Wait, you DO think that? Please plug into my ecosystem, cholesterol is your ally not your enemy my friend. We have so much to talk about!
All in all, we’ve been hoodwinked by Big Food and their marketing guns-for-hire.
I want to peel back the metabolic curtain and shine light on some of the basics to help you make 2022 the year you END the war with your body and how it relates to gravity. In other words the number on the scale, or your “weight”.
How does that sound?
No more diet rollercoaster. No more deprivation. No more negative body image. (It saddens me to think of the time and energy I’ve wasted on that one.)
On the flip…Yes to MORE food freedom. Yes to MORE enjoyment from food and social gatherings. And a resounding YES to MORE self-love and radical self-acceptance. You deserve to be loved, first and foremost by you.
Though I missed out on another facet of the 60’s social movements, the Bra Burning Era, I’m all about starting a Scale Burning movement. Now, to be more environmentally conscious, let’s repurpose them somehow. Any ideas? I’m all ears.
Those buggers have done more damage than good. I’ll share my insights as to why as we continue the metabolism conversation. For now, please know that your weight is not the measurement to focus on. What you’re made of is. In science speak, the term is body composition. The proportion of lean mass, bone mass, fat mass and water are the items we’ll focus on the most. Each of those items contribute to the number on the scale. The number in and of itself tells you nothing about the proportion of each. Your 160 and mine will most likely look and feel very different. The amount of space they each take up varies as well.
In everything I share, I aim to demystify the human’s metabolism and introduce you to tools to help you upgrade your metabolism with real food. No pills, powders, potions nor tinctures on the menu! Seriously, no overpriced supplements required. What. So. Ever.
Now let me say something here; it is important to point this detail out. The end goal is not skinny in my book. The end goal is metabolic health. Plug into my ecosystem to learn what that is and how you can attain and maintain it for yourself.
We come in all shapes and sizes, as determined by our genetics. Just as whether we have curly hair or straight. Where our body puts our body fat is written in the code, the DNA code that is. For instance, I will never be skinny. I will always have hips and a booty. Unless I am ill. I have never and will never wish to “be skinny”.
Others can’t put on body fat or much muscle, for the life of them. That is written in their code.
We all have a unique(-ish) propensity for storing excess energy. Society has just told us one is “ideal” and sought after, while the other indicates something is “wrong” with us. (I’m seriously resisting a tangent discussion. I’ll come back to this topic in the not too distant future. Promise!)
Your DNA controls what shape your body will be. Your hormones decide just how much of “you” there is, and where you’ll pack on muscle or fat given their building blocks are present. And lastly, what you eat and when determines which hormones and building blocks are on the job site for which the blueprint is your DNA.
Side note on the “DNA Determines All” rumor that is going on. I hear some version of this every single day.
“But Doc, it’s in my genes.”
Yes. And no. You have the genetic make-up for a specific trait to be expressed, that is true. You may even inherit a specific behavior (a response or a reaction) to a certain substance or experience, also true. This particular experience or reaction to something may well have meant the difference between survival of your ancestor and their death (think inherent fear of venomous snakes). The “here Snakey, Snakey” approach may have put the kibosh on that curious human’s gene line from being passed on.
All too often when someone tries to hand me the “in my genes” line, they are trying to tell me that since their family members carry excess body fat, or have “bad joints”, or possess a “weakness” for some non-nutritive substance (AKA they have “a sweet tooth”), they’re somehow destined to experience the same fate, *cue the dramatic music*, “no matter what (they) do”. They want to recruit me to cheer for “Team Helpless”.
***B.S. Flag on the play, Ref.***
That’s my response to any such statement inferring we are helpless in taking optimal care of our bodies. Here’s why.
There’s a super cool thing that’s been proven scientific fact when it comes to refuting this baseless argument. That fact is that what you do and don’t do directly flips the genetic switch (think circuit breaker) from OFF to ON. And vice versa. The super cool thing is the study of epigenetics*. Which is basically giving lifestyle it’s true credit as an determinant of what genes get expressed. Look into it a bit, you’ll be even more impressed with how phenomenal your human body is. I grow more enamored on the daily! Serious love affair in action here. Hearts and rainbows abound.
This is right about when I turn to another favorite saying, and a nod to the late Stan Lee, ”With great power comes great responsibility.” This saying has a more deeply rooted origin, but Stan said it best through his character Ben Parker in Spiderman.
When applied to the body it is better stated as “now that you know, what will you do differently.” If you keep going about “business as usual” yet know a better way, that is the antithesis to “ignorance is bliss”. Knowing better and not behaving better has the exact opposite effect on the human psyche to bliss.
Let the record reflect the following opinion of yours truly, “We can be metabolically healthy in every single shape and size, to a certain extent.” That extent is based upon what is happening at the cellular level. When you’re healthy metabolically, you are headed toward a long and vibrant life. And just to be sure we’re on the same page, isn’t THAT is the end goal? A long and vibrant life.
Alright, cool. *Check*
We’re on the same page.
If you’re just looking for skinny, I’m not your metabolism maven. But please do stick with me, maybe you’ll change your focus.
Metabolic health comes down to healing our cells. When our cells are sick, we are sick. And very often carrying excess body fat. It’s just how our metabolism works.
For simplicity’s sake, because it is quite complex, we will define metabolism as everything that happens in the cell ultimately producing energy. When your cells are producing adequate energy, you feel incredible and you don’t hold on to excess body fat, ergo weight. It’s that simple.
The moment cells get sick, or start preventing the good stuff from getting in and the bad stuff from getting out, your energy tanks and you feel like junk. And you’ll hold on to weight in the form of body fat and often water. Nothing will make a lasting difference until you make the cells functional again.
Bottom line: Until you make the cells functional, you will not “lose weight”, more accurately fat. Side note #2: Can we agree that when we see any reference to “losing weight”, we both understand the desired outcome is loss of excess body fat? That way I can stop adding my disclaimers and using air-quotes. Please? And thank you!
I hear some version of the following often, ”I’m doing everything right, but the scale isn’t budging!” Or “my metabolism has slowed to a snail’s pace and no matter what I do, it won’t kick in.” More “Me versus It” thinking.
If one or the other has passed your lips, I hear you. And, sorry to say, I’ve got some downer news.
No diet will make a difference until you heal your cells. Not Vegan, not Keto, not Paleo, not Mediterranean…and certainly not the heavily-processed meal replacement shake/bar abominations.
In order to “speed up” the metabolism, you must heal your cells. Like just about everything in life, it is easier to do something when we understand what is at work behind the scenes. In other words, “the better you understand your body, the better you can care for it”. Which is where we started this conversation.
I see so much confusion when it comes to our metabolism. What it is. What it does. How we can “speed it up”, as if it’s some magical setting on the human body. (It’s not.)
Since I’m no Debbie Downer, here’s some good news. You can heal your cells, and quite simply.
I’ve boiled down the basics to help you understand just what the metabolism is and how to make it work for you, instead of against. At the very least you’ll walk away with a better understanding of how you work on the inside. And some simple things you can do to help your metabolism do its job so you focus on other things in life than your weight.
Can I get an Amen from the congregation?
The amount of wasted time we have lost to the war with our body is heartbreaking. And if you’ve reached the midlife milestone, enough is enough! Though you cannot get back any of that time wasted, you can put an end to the lose-lose situation.
First let’s address what is at work when referring to the metabolism.
We already agreed upon the definition, now let’s explore why we get fat? And why fat accumulates in certain areas and not others? Ooh boy…again, this could be a rabbit hole for yours truly! I will stick to the basics, but note: my inner geek girl wants to go hunting for wabbit! I won’t let her. I’m sticking to the topic at hand!
We accumulate fat because our biochemistry is out of whack. There are many, many, many factors at work, but it boils down to how the body is responding to glucose and insulin, and leptin. And inflammation. And a buildup of metabolic waste.
Adding additional body fat is the body doing its very best to wall your system off from the toxic build up. It’s walling it off with fat to protect the brain and other life and death organs.
WHEW! I’m going to give myself an “atta girl” right here. I think that description was pretty succinct. Especially when my geek side soooo wanted to strut her stuff on the runway! Pouty lips and all.
Think about it from your body’s perspective, keeping in mind that your body is incredibly intelligent. When this toxic load is building and building, and building, would it make more sense to put it in your heart and lungs, and the like, or to take those toxins and stash them where they won’t interfere with life and death stuff?
If you’re saying…”Oooh, ooh, ooh, Dr. Sam…the second one, the second one!” You’re correct. Gold Star for you!
Much of that extra weight is these toxins that have accumulated in the receptor sites of your cell, inside the cell, between cells; that’s much of what fat is. It is a holding tank for the toxins and all their fallout. It acts as a buffering agent against the toxins. At least for our purposes in this conversation.
I want to make a point to say, that sometimes the normal, healthy chemicals in our body can be “toxic” when too plentiful. Glucose is one said chemical. At too high a level it is detrimental, ergo toxic. Same for insulin. Same for a lot of other things like estrogen when unchecked by progesterone, such as what happens in perimenopause.
By midlife there’s been ample time to amass an appreciable level of these accumulated toxins. Much of which just stays put in the cell. These toxins can compete for receptors that our critical hormones need to do their work. Think insulin receptors and estrogen receptors, as examples.
Add to those the endocrine disruptors you may have heard of when reading about personal care products like lotions and makeup. Endocrine is science-speak for hormones, which I suppose is science-speak for your body’s internal communications system.
In order to release the weight and speed up your metabolism, you’ve got to clean up your internal environment. You’ve got to make the cell healthy. Now FYI, you will not find the solution in a package. Unless it’s packaged by Mother Nature. With her is a good place to start.
I want you to look at the human body through this lens. Your body is a brain-transport system. It will do ANYTHING it has to do to protect “YOU/HQ”. Including make you “fat”. And it will do it…All. Day. Long. Every. Day. Until the underlying biochemical toxic dump is cleaned up.
Every single program or course I teach addresses this first. You’ve got to clean the system up in order for the cells to heal and start to drop the fat. Too many put that ol’ cart before the horse when it comes to “weight loss”.
Have I mentioned as of late that I don’t like the term “weight loss”?
I’m sure you’re nodding an emphatic affirmative. I know, I know. I only reiterate to make a point. Another reason aside from the aforementioned one is that the term “weight loss” is too general. And oh boy, here comes another reason. When focused on the result, we’re focusing on the wrong part of the equation. The variables are what we can control, not necessarily the result . But alas, it’s the lingo people are using, and if I want to make an impact online, I have to at least address it.
***Back to the topic at hand.***
As just mentioned, the main way you know your cells are healthy is if you have great energy. And not the caffeine-dependent kind.
If you don’t have the great energy that you should, or once did, it’s one of the first signs something is going on in your cells that is making them sick. Your body can and does adapt for quite some time. It is unbelievably resilient. But when it hits that tipping-point of sorts, it starts to signal there is a problem.
Midlife often coincides with that tipping-point.
Signals start out somewhat faint, then increase in intensity. And increase. And then we have no choice but to take note that we have a problem.
It goes something like this…
BODY: *Taps shoulder* Um hey, I’ve got an issue here Boss.
BRAIN (AKA Boss): I’m busy now, just take a pill.
BODY: *Shakes the shoulder* Um Boss, things are getting mucky around here. Can I get a minute of your focus?
BRAIN with a rather snarky tone: Listen, I’ve got too much on my plate right now. This chick is making me crazy with all she’s got me doing.
Eventually the shoulder shaking turns into a solid whack from a 2-by-4 demanding your attention. The body has been trying to let you know there’s a problem, but all too often the message has fallen on deaf ears.
I want to restore your hearing.
When I’m talking about metabolism, I’m talking beyond looking good in your clothes (or naked even). I’m talking about having limitless energy, I mean energy-on-demand. To do not only what you need to do, but what you WANT to do! No prescription required!
When you come at it from a cellular health point-of-view, that will happen. In just what timeframe, that is impossible to determine. And I’m sure our microwave society training doesn’t help any of us to develop the patience necessary to give the body ample time to do her healing.
*Resource to explore epigenetics through the FREE eLearning platform, Khan Academy.
Receive a weekly email with the highlights...
I post prolifically on a variety of topics we midlife women need to talk about.
No need to hunt around for the latest blog post or podcast episode...let my team do that for you!
Tell us where to send the weekly highlights, links and prose to ponder, and we'll fire them off to you every Saturday morning so you can enjoy your morning beverage with a hearty helping of Dr. Sam to kick off the weekend.
I treat your email address as my own. I will never SPAM you, nor sell your info. That is so uncool! FYI, you should receive a short welcome note from me. Since we're newly acquainted, please check your "Junk" or "SPAM" folders if you don't see it within a minute or two!