What to do about a slowing down metabolism as we age

Nov 20, 2018

Tom and I are calling it a week after I finish writing this blog post; we have our comfies on, Tom is cooking a chicken, pistachio and black pepper curry in the kitchen and I’m on email duty, whilst sipping on a glass of homemade kombucha and fizzy water (my latest experiment which I’ll share with you soon) – which tastes just like apple juice, but with many more nutritional benefits!
We’re doing a beach clean tomorrow on the north of the island of Menorca with a group of 10 or so friends and friends of friends we’ve gathered together which should be great; it’ll be the first beach clean we’ve organised ourselves and I’m looking forward to tidying up our island a little and doing a bit for the ocean.

Here are a couple of questions that have come up with our nutrition/fitness clients this week that I wanted to share my responses to in case you resonate with any of the challenges.

Q: MY METABOLISM ISN’T WHAT IT USED TO BE – HOW CAN I AVOID PUTTON ON EXCESS WEIGHT AS I GET OLDER?

A: Most people that you speak to will tell you that you have to lose weight to be healthy and in some unique situations when someone is carrying a real excess of weight (particularly around their middle region), but in the majority of cases I believe the opposite is true; you have to be healthy to lose weight (or maintain the weight that is right for you) and until this inner work is done, your outer world won’t reflect this change, not on a long-term basis anyway.

This means taking good care of yourself – having kinder conversations with yourself, consuming fewer processed foods and enjoying more nutrient dense, whole foods, moving your body regularly, being more mindful about your caffeine and alcohol intake and managing your perception of urgency (stress) and external pressures.

Generally speaking, from the age of 30 onwards and as we age, we begin to lose muscle mass unless we do something to maintain (or preferably build) it. Our metabolic rate is significantly impacted by our ratio of muscle to fat; if you have a higher amount of muscle mass, your body uses more energy (calories) to sustain these muscles – and this can ultimately lead to less body fat being stored.

So if you’re not already, introduce some kind of resistance training to your exercise regime to maintain or build your muscle mass. Not only can resistance training help you maintain a weight that is healthy for you, but it also has functional benefits, keeping our body stable, improving our balance which in turn protects our joints, ligaments and bones.

This is why all of our clients whether they do my Group Online Workouts with me or they work with Tom and me here on the island of Menorca or they work with us online with our J+T Intensive Coaching we get all of our clients incorporating weights into their exercise so that we intentionally build their muscle mass.

If going to the gym isn’t your thing then panic not. Yoga is a great form of resistance training, as it pilates which both use your own body weight as resistance.

Walking, gardening, carrying the food shop or children or climbing stairs all contribute to muscle building. Look for more opportunities to move throughout your day and make it as enjoyable as possible.

Q: HOW MANY TIMES SHOULD I DO HIGH-INTENSITY EXERCISE AND HOW MANY TIMES SHOULD I DO MORE RESTORATIVE EXERCISES LIKE MEDITATION, BREATHING EXERCISES, RELAXATION TIME? 

A: This is a tricky one to provide a generic answer for as the type of movement that is beneficial for one person is very individualised.

What does the rest of your day look like? Let’s say you get eight hours sleep a night, you spend 20 minutes meditating when you get up in the morning and then you do a bout of high-intensity exercise for 30 minutes. How active are the other 15 hours of your day?

If you spend most of your day stressed and/or in a rush, the 30 minutes of intense exercise will be an extra 30 minutes that you are in what I like to call the “red zone” (sympathetic nervous system dominance) which leads to your body to go into fight or flight mode.

If this above example sounds like you, then I would encourage focusing on more gentle movement such as yoga, tai chi or simply walking. Set a lunchtime alarm and go for a walk in your lunch break, unplug from your phone in the evening and do an at-home yoga practice.

If you feel energised and uplifted at the end of your high-intensity exercise and you love doing it, that’s great – I’d encourage you to keep doing it, and continually keep checking in with yourself to make sure this continues to be what’s best for you, right now. Make sure you always do a nice unwinding cool down at the end of your workout with a couple of deep breaths to finish.

To help steer your exercise choices and movement habits, my question to you is “What do you want to achieve long-term?”

Ultimately you want to have a functioning body that allows you to move through your day with ease.

You want to be pain-free.

You want to have the strength to carry your shopping bags and your children (or grandchildren), you want to have the flexibility right the way through to your later years to bend down and tie your shoelaces.

You want to feel uplifted, not depleted.

I hope the above responses are helpful and point you in the right direction with the balance you’re looking for on the exercise-front.

Wishing you a superb weekend ahead. The smells coming out of the kitchen right now are a-m-a-z-i-n-g, so I’m off to enjoy some curry!

I hope you’ve got some deliciously nourishing meals planned this weekend.

All my very best,

Jess x

We’re Jess & Tom! A husband and wife team, sharing workouts & nutrition made simple from our island home in Menorca. Our mission? To help people get and stay in shape, and enjoy the journey along the way. We love to travel, hike & bring together inspiring people.

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