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The Metabolism Train

Why metabolism builds up when you have a healthy diet and exercise often.

I had an opportunity to speak at a Weight Watchers meeting last week, and as I began presenting I took the opportunity to poll the group to find out how many new members were present. I then asked how many already wanted to quit. Several raised their hands in understanding. Beginning any new change is not easy, but it’s the commitment that makes it work.

When I began my new healthy lifestyle I remember thinking, What have I done? I knew I had to make this work; after all I would have many people watching me to see if I could do it—if I would stick with it. The first few weeks were the hardest. I like to refer to this as the detox period. While our bodies adjust to all of the changes going on in our lives it takes a little while to see any progress on the scales. In fact, I didn’t see any substantial weight loss for nearly a month.

Part of the reason why we don’t see much change in the beginning is because we are gaining muscle while we exercise, and muscle weighs more than fat. So while we may be losing inches we don’t see it reflected on the scales. Additionally, we need to remember that our metabolism needs to speed up, as it has probably been sitting idle for quite some time.

Think of our metabolism as a train. Just like a locomotive starts very slowly, our metabolism begins at a snail’s pace. Once the momentum of the train gets going, however, it begins to chug along at a moderate pace. Our metabolism works much in the same way. If the conductor lets off the throttle, the train will slow down a little, but will quickly regain speed once the throttle has been pressed again. Our diet is the same, if we mess up one day, just get back on track and our metabolism won’t be affected much. But stop the train completely and it will take a lot to get it moving once again. The same holds true for our metabolism. If we quit eating healthy altogether and go back to our old eating habits and lack of exercise, it will take quite some time to get our metabolism built back up.

I had been the yo-yo dieter for many years, so my metabolism was at an all time low. Like many of us, I had the McDonald’s syndrome: I want it now, I want it fast, and I want it right. But nothing worthwhile comes quickly. Through commitment and continued exercise, however, I have finally managed to get my metabolism moving again. Even during the Christmas holidays when I was sick and unable to exercise as normal, and being faced with many delectable temptations, I managed to get the few pounds that I had gained back off quickly once I got back on my regular healthy routine.

I have now reached 179 pounds, a 70-pound weight loss, and am well on my way to reaching my goal of 170 pounds! With warmer weather around the corner and the readiness to increase my exercising outdoors I expect to quickly reach my goal. I am so thankful that I remained committed to reach each one of the smaller goals I had set, as well as many of the larger ones. Some I have even surpassed. But none of this would have been possible if I had stopped the train altogether.

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