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Healthy eating and exercise for life

Are You “Messing Up” Your Metabolism?Are You “Messing Up” Your Metabolism?
Kick Your Metabolism into High Gear this Spring!

There are some people who have naturally high metabolisms. But for those of us with an average metabolism, there are a few things we can do to increase or keep our metabolism running in tip-top shape. But what you may be surprised to learn is that dieting can actually slow your metabolism. Although your goal may be to reduce calories if you are trying to lose weight, you should aim to keep your metabolism "running full speed ahead." Here are some tips to help you fine-tune your body to perform at its best and burn the most possible calories. Instead of "messing up" your metabolism, try these tips to kick your metabolism into high gear this Spring:

Don't skip meals. It sounds like a good idea to skip meals to take in fewer calories, right? Actually this is one of the worst things you can do if you are trying to lose weight. Skipping meals causes the body to reserve its energy. When you cut back on calories, the body begins to "slow down" to ensure that your brain and heart are well supplied with energy. Although you may be aware that you are trying to make changes to your body for the better, the body only senses "starvation mode" and this slows down metabolic processes. This, in essence, slows down your metabolism.

Eat small frequent meals. It's okay to graze! Eating 5-6 small meals throughout the day can help control your appetite and keep you feeling satisfied. If you prefer, your breakfast, lunch and dinner meals can still be your larger meals, but you can incorporate snacks between meals to curb hunger. You might try an apple with peanut butter or graham crackers with low-fat cream cheese. "Snacking" helps curb your appetite and prevents you from becoming ravenous. (You've probably had those days when you get home and want to eat everything in sight!) Avoid this by eating snacks and keeping your hunger pains at bay.

Tone up! Adding weight training to your exercise routine can help you build more muscle (and muscle burns more calories than fat). The more muscle you have the more calories you burn - even at rest! You don't have to get a gym membership to add weight training to your routine. There are tons of exercises that you can do at home using your own body weight, such as push-ups, squats, lunges and sit-ups. You can also purchase some small weights for arm curls. Or, you might try elastic bands for toning and tightening that can be purchased at sport stores or other "department-type" stores.

Make the most of your current exercise routine. Make exercise worth your while. If you are going to do it, do it right. If you have become so accustomed to your current workout that you're not increasing your heart rate or breaking a sweat, step it up a notch. Exercise for a longer period of time or try adding a new routine. Your body will eventually adapt to doing the same thing over and over. In other words, the same exercise gets easier for the body and ultimately you don't burn as many calories. If you're great on the stairmaster, try the rowing machine. Or if you walk 3 times a week, try running the other two days. You've got to continually challenge yourself!

And, remember, one of the most effective tools you have to boost your metabolism is your positive attitude. You have to believe in yourself and focus on your goals - both of which are very empowering. With a positive attitude you are more likely to exercise on a regular basis, eat right and stay motivated.