Are you feeling sluggish?
Your mind and body just aren’t performing with the same pizzaz as they used to? Maybe some stubborn weight has shown up and the old ways of shedding the pounds don’t seem to work anymore. It's like someone has turned the volume down on your zest for life, your motivation. Do you find yourself dragging your butt to the gym only to get frustrated with minimal results? Are you giving up on eating right because it doesn’t seem to matter? As a naturopathic doctor this is a very common story I hear from my patients. You are not alone! Many of us share this frustration and are searching for deeper answers.
Here at NCNM, we look at disease and people’s illnesses differently. We help you understand the language of the body. Your body speaks to you in symptoms. These symptoms guide us to understand what systems need support or rebalancing. When you build health in a system the symptoms eventually abate and often disappear. Getting to the root cause of your body’s illness and correcting it is how to heal deeply from the inside out. This is the blueprint to get your body and mind back on track.
Don’t get lost in the “there’s a medication for that” mentality. This is like putting a band-aid over the check engine light of your car. You don’t see the light anymore, but it is not really gone. The problem you were being alerted to is still a problem. Medications often mask a symptom making us feel better, however in most cases the underlying imbalance is still there. Over time the underlying problem can get even worse and then we have to take more medication to keep the symptoms managed. Taking a statin medication for high cholesterol is the perfect example of putting a band-aid over the problem. You can see why this approach is not sustainable and often leads to more and more medications.
I’m writing today to make sure you understand that when it comes to your metabolism, there are simple steps you can take to get to the root cause of the problem. Instead of taking a statin, lower your cholesterol by removing the behaviors and habits that have contributed to the problem in the first place. It is easier and simpler than you think. Classically the signs of a sluggish metabolism is elevated cholesterol, fasting blood sugar that is trending up over time, and liver enzymes going up. You can find this out by doing some simple blood tests with your doctor.
I want to empower you with some diet and lifestyle actions steps you can start today to begin turning the clock back on your metabolism. The sooner you start, the sooner you will begin to feel more vibrant and have more control over your situation.
6 Foundational Power Actions to Improve Your Metabolism
- Drink enough water
Dehydration is a common hidden reason for feeling sluggish, tired, moody, and unmotivated. If your body is an ocean (and it kinda is at 98% water) then how do you think it will function if you don’t flush it with fresh water every day? You guessed it, the water gets murky and stagnant. Stagnation leads to problems. So get a water bottle and drink at least 2 Liters of water a day, more if you are exercising or sweating. If you have any kidney disease, consult your doctor about how much water is best for you.
- Clean up your SAD diet
SAD stands for Standard American Diet. Most of us can do better when it comes to putting nourishment in our bodies. We see food as a national pastime, entertainment, comfort, and a reward. Write down everything you eat and drink for a week and then study the list. How much sugar are you consuming? How about processed simple carbohydrates or convenience foods? Even my most “healthy eaters” have things to learn about how to make food your friend instead of your enemy. I don’t recommend calorie counting. It's more about learning which foods are truly nourishing and which are causing inflammation in your body. The best first step anyone can take is eliminating sugar completely from your diet. All sweeteners - yes, even the “natural” ones like stevia and agave. Once you’ve been off sugar for a month, you will see how much it was controlling your moods, cravings, energy, and ability to take charge of your lifestyle.
- Get 30 minutes of aerobic movement daily
(at least 6 days per week)
This does not need to be 30 minutes consecutively, 10 minutes of sustained aerobic movement three times a day also boosts your metabolism for 24 hours. This is your baseline. This is the absolute minimum you must do to avoid the terrible consequences of being sedentary.
- Incorporate strength training
(1-3 times a week)
More is not better! Doing an hour of cardio everyday to lose weight is a common mistake I see. Get at least 30 minutes of aerobic movement and then if you have the resources, add some strength training. Strength training builds muscle and it’s muscle that will get you results like weight loss, stamina, and strength. If this is new for you, start with just 20 minutes of strength training once a week. Over time increase to 3 times a week. If you lack experience, find a coach or trainer to guide you.
- Get enough fiber in your diet
Most folks don’t get near enough fiber. Fiber does so many important things like assisting detoxification, lowering colon cancer risk, nourishing your microbiome, and lowering cholesterol. It is cheap and easy. Don’t miss out on this easy action item! Most people can aim for 25 grams of fiber per day. Get it by a combination of your meals and add supplementation if necessary. Fruit is a good source of fiber. Ground chia seeds or flax seeds are an easy way to supplement your diet with more fiber. We carry fiber supplements in our dispensary.
- Take your vitamins and minerals
Most people are unaware, but there’s a lot of chemistry going on in your body every day just to keep the lights on. Your biochemistry and organ systems depend on getting key nutrients to keep the machinery running smoothly. Nutritional deficiency is more common than most think, so taking a good quality multivitamin and multimineral ensures you are getting at least enough of the right stuff to keep your body running optimally. For my patients with metabolic syndrome, pre-diabetes, high cholesterol, or blood sugar problems I will often recommend a multivitamin that is specifically formulated to help with key metabolic pathways. Schedule with me so we can see if you need more than a basic multivitamin supplement.
If we were building a house, the above action steps would lay a solid foundation so that the rest of the house has a place to stand. If you skip these foundational steps then you may find your house is not very solid when the winds and storms pick up. Foundations of health are vital to maintaining a healthy metabolism. Skipping the basics and thinking that taking a supplement instead is going to give you results is short-sighted. The supplements are just that… supplementing a healthy diet, movement practice, and mindset. I am more than happy to help you identify which foundations are in most need of your attention so you can get the results you are looking for. Please schedule with me HERE.
Okay, so many of you are already doing the basics and you want to know how to really add some fuel to the fire of your metabolism. How do you go from just okay to optimal? Next, I will share some strategies that often affect our bodies and keep our metabolism from functioning at their optimal. We need to take some things away (the bad stuff) and add in some of the good stuff (supportive foods and herbs).
5 Steps to Turn Up the Volume on Your Vitality
- Superfoods and Antioxidants
Greens are your friend, so are antioxidants. Our bodies are constantly under pressure from oxidative stress. This comes in the forms of inflammation, toxic exposures, and emotional or mental stress. This is the everyday norm to varying degrees for all of us. Antioxidants help neutralize some of these stresses. This is why eating fresh fruits and vegetables is so critical. You can choose foods that have health promoting properties like blueberries, goji berries, spirulina, and chlorella. Making superfoods a regular habit in your life is a proactive way to reduce the damage of oxidative stress. I personally enjoy blueberries on a regular basis and stir my favorite greens powder into smoothies or water a few times a week.
All of us have a toxic burden. The number of chemicals we are exposed to in our homes, offices, and cities is enough to cause a build up of toxins. Check out EWG.org to learn more about what exposures you can minimize. Body products, cosmetics, home cleaning formulas, and water filtration are things you can control. Make sure you are reducing your exposure by choosing products free of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). These pollutants get into the body and then build up over time. I recommend detoxification for many of my patients to reduce this built up burden because toxins can mimic hormones, cause damage to the body, and age us faster than we like. To be very clear, I’m not recommending a colon purge cleanse, you have to be a smart consumer when it comes to detoxification. If you are interested in this, don’t DIY this one. Get expert guidance and recommendations. The detox programs I recommend are focused on supporting the liver and other organs of elimination so they function optimally.
- Balance your hormones
A poor diet, leaky gut, and toxins that mimic hormones are a common reason for feeling like your body is getting older and not performing the way you wish it would. One foundational way to help with hormone imbalance is to address leaky gut. Read more about leaky gut in my previous article HERE. Once your digestive system is back on track you may need some testing to evaluate your hormone levels. There are many ways to test and once you know which hormones are out of balance then it is a simple matter of discussing all your options for re-balancing. I commonly use herbal formulas and/or bio-identical hormones to get things back into harmony. This step can be transformative! Many of my patients come back after starting treatment saying “it feels like I’ve got my old self back again”.
This is a compound found in many plants and in some foods you eat like onions and oranges. Flavonoids are able to help balance blood sugar, cholesterol, and make your blood vessels more resilient. All these actions are important for a sluggish metabolism. They also have a beneficial effect on the immune system and inflammatory cells. (#1) I often supplement with flavoids to help support metabolic imbalances. BergaCor plus is one special flavonoid product that I’m particularly excited about. It is important to make flavonoids a part of your health regimen every week to get the best benefits.
How do you get to the top of a mountain? You talk to people who have climbed it before you, you plan, and then you take action. Reversing a sluggish metabolism is similar in this regard. You may try things and get limited results and eventually find yourself back where you started. For lasting change you need a guide, partner, coach, or mentor to celebrate your successes and support you through the challenges of lifestyle change. When the student is ready the mentor will appear. If you are ready to make significant changes and get lasting results in your life, then you have come to the right place. I’ve created Resilience Wellness Programs with you in mind. Having a mentor with a solid plan is the fastest, easiest, and most organized way to idealize health. Call the office and let us know you are interested in talking with me about how Resilience Wellness Programs could work for you. It has been a labor of love and I’m so excited to help more people in a deeper and more meaningful way to live the lives of their dreams.
Remember, a sluggish metabolism is no excuse to give up. There are simple strategies to start today and with the right guidance anyone can turn back metabolic dysfunction to reveal their vitality. Follow the steps I’ve given you today to build that foundation and then get on my schedule so we can create an individualized approach to addressing your specific concerns.
Take a moment, if you were feeling more energy, more inspiration, and feeling good in your skin again… what would that open up for you? What has your sluggish metabolism been preventing you from enjoying? Is it affecting your sleep? Your relationships? Your ability to focus on your work? I know you want to show up in your life and give those you love your best self. I hope you want to feel better for yourself too. It is not too late! Anyone can begin to practice the habits of healthy living and ultimately reveal the vitality that has been there all along. I’d be honored to support you on your healing journey. Please don’t be shy and come in for a visit. I look forward to serving you soon.
- Hoffmann, D. (2003). Chapter 7: Polyphenols. In Medical herbalism: The science and practice of herbal medicine (pp. 108-112). Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.