How To Speed Up Your Metabolism

Did you know there is a personal trainer at work in your body right now? It’s called your metabolism, and unlike a trainer who you coordinate schedules with, your metabolism works around the clock. Each time you eat, enzymes in your body’s cells break down the food and turn it into energy that keeps your heart beating, your mind thinking and your legs churning during an awesome workout. The faster your metabolism runs, the more calories you burn. The more you burn, the easier it is to drop pounds. And get this—you can make your metabolism work harder, a lot harder, 24 hours a day. While we can’t change how many calories it takes to keep our heart beating, we can burn an extra 500 to 600 calories a day by exercising and eating properly.

In the Morning

  1. Eat right out of bed- If you don’t body will go into starvation mode so your body slows to conserve energy.
  2. Drink coffee- It stimulates central nervous system and increases heart rate and breathing.
  3. Drink cold water (or with lemon)- Body burns a few extra calories heating up water to core temperature.

At work

  1. Protein for lunch- Protein helps build and maintain lean muscle (muscle burns more calories than fat).
  2. Drink green tea- Let tea seep for 3 minutes and drink while it’s hot.
  3. Dairy in the after-mooo-n- Calcium helps body metabolize fat more efficiently by increasing the rate at which it gets rid of fat as waste (poop).

At the Market

  1. Go organic as much as possible- You wouldn’t put dirty oil in your car would you?
  2. It’s getting hot in here- Capsaicin, the compound that gives chili peppers their mouth-searing quality, can also fire up your metabolism. Think salsa and red pepper flakes for topping pizza, stir fry, and pasta.
  3. Metal head- Women lose iron during their period every month; iron helps carry oxygen to your muscles. If your levels run low, muscles don’t get enough O2, your energy tanks, and your metabolism slows. Stock up on iron (fortified cereals, beans, and dark leafy greens like spinach, bok choy, and broccoli)

Working Out

  1. Intervals- Bursts of speed may stimulate a fat-burning response within the muscles.
  2. Slow down- Count to three as you lower the weight back to the start position. Slowing things down increases the breakdown of muscle tissue. The repair process (building muscle) pumps up your metabolism for as long as 72 hours after your session. Note- use heavy weights if you want this to work 😉
  3. Somethings fishy- Combining regular exercise with fish-oil supplements increases the activity of your fat-burning enzymes.

At Home

  1. Eat more fish- Fatty fish like salmon, tuna and sardines are loaded with hunger-quashing omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats help trigger the rapid transfer of “I’m full” signals to your brain.
  2. Limit your alcohol- Did you know that 2 drinks in one sitting slows down your metabolism by 73%?! That’s because your liver converts the alcohol into acetate and starts using that as fuel instead of your fat stores.
  3. Go to bed- early. When you sleep less than you should, you throw off the amounts of leptin and ghrelin (sleep and appetite hormones) that your body produces.

Race Against Time

With each passing decade, a woman’s metabolism slows down by about 5%. Hormones play a role, but mostly it’s because as you get older, you typically become less active. As a result, you lose muscle mass, a major consumer of all those calories you scarf down. So by the time you hit 35, you’ll burn 75 fewer calories a day than you did at 25; by age 65 you’ll burn 500 fewer, etc.

Pre-Show Testimony

As this training session comes to and end with our show tomorrow, our coach asked all the women to write a journal entry on how we feel. That’s one of the many things I love about her program. It’s not just, come to the gym, do these sets, track your sit-ups and go home. She has built a team, a tribe, a squad. The point of this program is about growth and self-discovery. The fact that we get in great physical shape as a result of our personal transformations is an added bonus.

She asked us to be real and raw in these journals, to leave no stone upturned and no emotion unexplored. Below is what I came up with. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed training for it the last month and a half.

Dear (Coach),

You asked us to write a recap of our personal experiences training with CCF. You asked us to write it now as we finish the last physical assessments, complete the final dexascan, and pose in the final progress photoshoot. You said it’s Peak Week, we’ve made it. Our journey is complete, we’ve already won. For many the women I’ve been training with that might be the case; those who had goals of weight loss, tightening up, and body acceptance. They have all worked very, very hard, look amazing, and should be so proud of themselves. I on the other hand, will not have ‘won’ or ‘completed my journey’ until after I step off stage.

For me personally, competing in this show wasn’t about a number on a scale or inches lost from my waist. I don’t care so much about how many sit-ups I can do in a minute. I’ve always had a very strong positive body image (Ask any of my best friends, in high school I was always the first one to suggest skinny-dipping.), and the fact that I worked out harder in these past 6 weeks than I ever have in my life reinforced that self-love. Hard work comes naturally to me. You tell me that this is the workout we are doing and this is what we are eating, I will do it. I know hard exercise and diet are expected and necessary to achieve the desired result. I accept this and I rise to the occasion. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not discounting the work that we did. Like I said, it was intense, and I am proud of myself for giving it my all and being witness to the changes my body has made. I’ve always wondered what my body was physically able to look like, and I’m starting to find out.

I wanted to do this training program, and ultimately the show, because I am not comfortable being the intentional center of attention (yet). And honestly up until writing down these thoughts now, I hadn’t thought out 100% why not.    If I tell any of my friends that statement, they’ll object in disbelief and recount stories of me amusing large groups of people, times where I would approach complete strangers, of times where I acted super “silly” in front of large crowds. They tell me this and I cringe a little inside. Most of the times they’re referring to I was drunk and therefore not as in control of my words and actions as if I had been sober. This doesn’t mean I’m afraid of crowds now. If I’m telling a story, doing “my thing” at Burning Man or anywhere, dancing at a club, whatever, and more people join in, great. I am super extroverted and feed off the energy of people and large groups. I’m also very inclusive and want people to join in the fun I’m having.

What is uncomfortable for me is standing up in front of a group of people and saying, “look at me”. When I got sober (and I didn’t realize how much of an impact that event played on this show until I started writing, these thoughts are coming to me as I type.) I completely rediscovered who I was. What would I say and do now that I didn’t have the liquid courage of however many mixed drinks? What would I talk about with people now that I am consciously aware of what I’m saying? At first it was terrifying discovering who I really was. The good news is it got easier, and easier, and easier. I started to learn who Morgan actually was, and I liked her a lot. She still liked to party and go dancing. She could still easily talk to strangers and she was still fun. But that insecurity of being center-stage is still alive. During my drinking days I would get up on stage anytime anywhere and think I was absolutely hysterical. Looking back now, I was making a fool of myself. My mom would tell me how I was an embarrassment. Now, tomorrow, I am going to get on stage, more than half naked, and be judged on how I’m presenting myself. If that’s not the final test of courage, I don’t know what is.

What’s different though this time is as I write this I am 1,221 days sober, I have the strength of my Higher Power behind me, and countless tools in my belt from the hundreds of AA meetings I’ve gone to over the last three-and-something years. I also have the support and encouragement from my fiancé, friends, family, you (Coach), and the other women I’ve been training with the last 6 weeks. Not to mention, my body shows the results of long hours working out and following a strict diet (minus a few sips of the Unicorn Frappuccino).

Three years ago, I did not feel this great. I didn’t realize how bored and discontent I was. I thought I had high self-esteem, but really I just had a high BAC. Now, I look amazing, I feel amazing, and Saturday after I step off stage I will finally prove to myself that I’m as confident as I believe I am. I will prove to myself that I can intentionally put myself out there, and it’s ok because I’m in a healthy frame of mind. I deserve to be the center of attention because I’ve worked hard for it. I will trust myself that I have earned this and I am not making a fool of myself. I am not embarrassing myself.  I’ve forgiven myself for the stupid things that I did while drunk, it’s time to put my best foot, or hip, forward and move on.

Love,

Morgan

FINDING YOUR YOGA MAT SOUL MATE- IT’S OUT THERE!

If you’re like me, you think of your yoga mat as your best friend. It encourages you through challenges, it’s there to celebrate and share your victories, and it’s that safe space you can come to at any time. It should feel like a little island you want to call home for every practice. Like your practice, your yoga mat should be one that you invest in, one that you keep coming back to, and one that supports you through every inhale and exhale.

The most important features in a good mat includes:

Durability and longevity — A yoga mat’s ability to withstand even the toughest of practices over time.

Comfort and support — Just enough cushioning for your joints can reduce squirming in kneeling postures and provide padding for impact, but not so much that it compromises support.

Stability — A firm, dense mat can help you feel stable throughout standing and balancing poses.

Portability — Consider how much travel you will be doing with your mat. A mat’s weight and size will dictate whether or not it is toteable. Since most people walk, bike, and travel to class, an easy-to-carry mat is an important feature.

Traction and stickiness — It’s important for a mat to provide traction both to keep you from slipping and in staying connected to the ground. The last thing you want is for your mat to function as a Slip N’ Slide.

Texture — Mats have different surfaces, but most yogis agree that it’s best to have a mat that feels most natural.

Environmental consideration — Buying an eco-friendly yoga mat is important to many practitioners. If this holds true to you, consider purchasing a mat made from all-natural materials.

Size — Your yoga mat should cover the length and width of your entire body. Not every yoga mat comes in various widths and sizes, so make sure to check measurements before purchasing.

Reviews.com recently compiled a study on mats that you can see here. Don’t be afraid to test a few mats on your own and ask around before making a purchase—because when a yoga mat feels just right for you, it can make all the difference in your practice, and thus your life. Happy practicing!

Special Projects

A couple years ago I was getting coffee with a friend and he asked me what projects I was working on. Outside of work, what was I doing with my time? At the time I didn’t have a good answer and it got me thinking: from now on I will always have a project. It didn’t always need to be something huge, maybe it was starting (and finishing) a new book or trying a new recipe (that’s a big one considering I cook a “real” meal maybe 4 times a year.) What I didn’t realize at the time was that by not having a project, it meant I didn’t have a vision. I didn’t have an idea or clear picture what I wanted to do with my energy, and that’s not acceptable. Having a vision is important because it gives your existence a purpose. We are only on this planet for such a short time, we should use it wisely.

So consider this, what is your project? What is your vision? Make it BIG. Make it HUGE. The bigger the better. It’s supposed to be so big that it’s almost unbelievable. And what will it take for you to get there right now? In the beginning when you’re setting out on a new journey towards a new, amazing goal, it’s easy to get frustrated with the preliminary steps. You’re so excited and eager and anxious to reach the end point, the brilliant dream that inspired you, that the preliminary steps just seem like they’re taking up too much time. This is natural. If the dream wasn’t so stunning, it wouldn’t be worth dreaming.

So what’s my vision right now? Oh my gosh I have so many. I’ll keep it yoga-pose related. I am working on Adho Mukha Vrksasana, aka Handstand. I have been working on it for over a year now and while some days it doesn’t feel like I am making any progress, I know I am. I practice my handstand every single day for at least 10 minutes, and even if I don’t hold it for very long that day, or some days I don’t even get legs in the air at all, I know that I am at least stronger now than I was before I tried.

As you keep grinding along on your project, know the “small victories” that that are the baby steps of accomplishing your goal (practicing kicking up, reading a few pages of your book, running a mile, etc.)  are actually huge victories in the overall big picture (handstand, finishing that book you’ve been putting off forever, running a 5k or marathon, etc.). For every mortal step you take here, a huge leap, cartwheel, dance party has taken place in time and space, advancing you forward more than you’ll ever know. And the best way to finish this project? Get started on it. No more procrastinating, no more excuses or if/thens (if Sarah calls me to go to kickboxing with her, then I’ll go), that’s lame. Get up, get out, and just START DOING IT. Wherever you are, any progress is good. You’ll finish your project, achieve your goal, just in time to start your next one

Keep Bending,

Morgan

@keep_bending

Another Internet Blog About Goals

There are a million blogs and articles out there about goals. About why you should set them. And how you can keep them. And what to do if you do if you set so many goals that you forget what they are. Well this is another blog post about just that, but my take on it.

The past 4 months I have been studying to earn my personal trainers certification through the American Council on Exercise (ACE). The content is intense, they recommend studying 10-15 hours a week and I definitely do that if not more. There is an outlined syllabus with 18 sections and each section is broken down even further to one or more lessons. Each lesson has chapters you have to read, videos to watch, and quizzes to take. Oh and flashcards. Don’t forget the flashcards! I complete all that, review as much as necessary, then schedule to take the certification course. They recommend taking the test 4 months from when you start the program so the information stays fresh. I am on track to finish studying the material this week (!), I’ll spend all of February reviewing and take the test early March before we go to Mexico. Like I said, this material is super intense. There is more to personal training than just counting out reps and getting paid to wear yoga pants to work. For example, the chapters I read earlier were Exercise Physiology, Fundamentals of Applied Kinesiology, Physiology of Training, etc. As someone who majored in marketing in college because it seemed like “the easiest” major, learning about biology like this does not come naturally. But it’s fascinating! The human body is so amazing and mysterious and strong that I just can’t take it in fast enough. The chapter on nutrition was over 50 pages (front and back mind you) and I read it in 2 days because I couldn’t put it down. I had food strewn out all over our kitchen counters comparing the labels to what I was learning. I already know my next non-yoga certification is going to be in nutrition of some sort. Oh! To further deepen my studying, I try to incorporate saying 3 new muscles and bones a week into my yoga classes so I have a better understanding of what the body is doing. But I digress. This program is intended for the super committed, motivated, self-starter and even though I don’t have a biology background, being intrinsically motivated is in my DNA.

Recently I started teaching yoga at a brand new recovery gym, Fizio, that just opened up across the street. (Funny story how that happened, I had been watching construction happening on the building all summer but didn’t know what it was going to be. One day a sign went up saying that it was going to be a gym. Me, being the inquisitive (ok let’s be real. Nosy. I was being nosy.)  person that I am, started rattling on the doors and peering in the windows, trying to find a way to get in so I could talk to someone. A man quickly came around the corner, like anyone would who sees someone trying to break into his building. Long story short, he and his wife were the owners and after a few weeks of getting to know each other they invited me to their staff to teach yoga. They also asked me if I had ever considered getting my personal training certification because they would love to bring me on in that capacity down the road soon too. They suggested to go through ACE and “the rest is history”. That was back in September 2016.

Up until this point I knew I wanted to do something with fitness/yoga/wellness/life coaching/etc. but wasn’t sure what. I had kind of been wandering aimlessly. I knew I wanted to teach yoga full time, but that by itself isn’t super realistic yet. Now, thanks to this amazing couple who saw something in me and recognized I had the qualities of someone who would make a successful personal trainer, I finally had a clear goal and idea what I wanted to do with my life professionally. They have inspired me and encouraged me to build myself up and increase my value as a human. I have a clear goal and vision, one that is defined and realistic. Short term- in March 2017 I am going to pass my certification to become a Certified Personal Trainer. Long term- by December 2017 I will be doing yoga/fitness/wellness/health/nutrition/life-coaching full time. And in the meantime, I am going to start getting certifications in as many of those other categories as possible.

#BuildAnEdge

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We had our first staff meeting at Fizio the other night where the owners shared their vision statement with us and brought us all up to speed on the ‘why’ behind the Fizio brand. The photo is a bit blurry, but the message is clear. Set a goal, Build an Edge.

I feel so fortunate to teach at a gym that sets, encourages, and embraces our aspirations and ambitions. The owners, staff, and coaches at Fizio all live with the mindset to continually build themselves up and keep working towards the greatest version of themselves. The people we surround ourselves with either raise or lower our standards. We become like our friends and they help us to become the best versions of ourselves. These are just those kinds of people and I know 100% they will continue to support me on my professional fitness journey.

I had a fun thought the other day. In the beginning when you’re setting out on a new journey towards a new, amazing goal, it’s easy to get frustrated with the preliminary steps. You’re so excited and eager and anxious to reach the end point, the brilliant dream that inspired you, that the preliminary steps just seem like they’re taking up too much time. This is natural. If the dream wasn’t so stunning, it wouldn’t be worth dreaming. Know that the “small victories” that that are the baby steps of accomplishing your goal, are actually huge victories in the overall big picture. For every step you take on Earth, a huge leap, cartwheel, dance party has taken place in time and space, advancing you forward more than you’ll ever know.

Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation so that you can make the very most out of your life. Goal setting is the first step in successful goal achievement. It marks your first point toward success. It’s when you switch from a passive state to being actively involved in your life. Because this life is so, so good.