After reading the entire Master Your Metabolism, my biggest takeaway from the book was that our bodies process whole foods differently than manufactured foods.
For example, a cookie that says it's 150 calories will give off 150 calories of quick energy. But if you ate an orange that is labeled as having 80 calories, once your body processes the orange, you might actually get only 50 calories worth of energy.
That's important! So surely you could lose weight just by limiting your manufactured food intake and stocking up on more whole foods. I mean, that's a given, and it's one of the big reasons I have personally stayed slender for a good chunk of my life.
But there's more to it. I'm going to share with you something I've found to be truly amazing (in the case of weight loss) and maybe it will work for you too. Keep in mind, this is my own personal experience and it may or may not work for you. But it's still worth considering.
Last winter, I decided to focus on muscle gain. I mean really focus. I decided not to care about gaining weight along with the muscle and had plans to "run it off" once summer came around.
It's all relative. Going from 106 to 118 is a 12 pound increase, or an 11% weight gain. Do the math and figure out what that would mean for your frame. You can see me hop on the scale last winter and see that mid winter I was 114 and 17% body fat.
Either way, I was 118 pounds at the beginning of May. I decided to switch from weight training to running and see if I could shed some of those pounds.
I ran once, and decided I didn't want to do it again. Running when you are heavier sucks! My knees hurt, I was out of breath, I hated it. So I just quit.
I went back to my regular 4 day a week strength routine and that was that. But then it wasn't. School was out in June and I started going outside more. I rode bike a few times, rollerbladed twice, and swam two or three times.
I started going to my gym (aka the basement) only once a week, at best. I weighed myself at the beginning of June and I was 116 pounds.
By mid-June, my kids were done with bike riding (which means I was also done with bike riding and skating....) but wanted to go to the pool almost every day.
My job at the pool is life guard. When there are a ton of kids at the pool, there is no room to actually swim and it's all that much harder to keep track of my own kids, so I usually sit out on the deck and watch them. B-o-r-i-n-g and absolutely no exercise.
And I'm still hitting the gym about once a week. Ugh. I kind of just chocked this year up to a swimsuit nightmare and forgot about it. I stayed busy in the garden and with my ordinary mom jobs, but I haven't set foot on the treadmill.
I'm also not dieting, and I still eat candy. Damn it! Even still, I am now 110 pounds and 16% body fat. Something else must have changed.
Actually, there are 3 things that have changed since the beginning of June.
First, my kids came home from school which meant less exercise and more fighting. Second, I have been outside a lot more (and without sunscreen!)
The final change has to do with what I have been eating. I've already mentioned that I eat candy, often. I also eat a lot - both in frequency and volume. But aside from the candy addiction (grrrr) I eat mostly unprocessed food. That hasn't changed.
Every day for breakfast, I eat either oatmeal, yogurt or eggs. That's it, and that hasn't changed. I eat the same lunches and dinners too. I really only know how to cook so many things so I make the same foods as I always have.
berries are flourishing.
I pick a big bowl of mixed berries every single day. Sometimes I eat ALL of them, sometimes I share half with my kids.
I Love (that's love with a capital L) berries and I would eat them EVERY DAY of my life, but I don't eat them often in the winter because they are expensive and fresh grocery store berries are gross. I only buy frozen berries in the winter, and they're just not the same. So in the winter, I might eat berries once a week and in a much smaller quantity.
Now, I am eating huge bowls of them every day. And Swiss chard? None of my grocery stores carry it. They carry slippery spinach and other unappealing greens.
In the summer, I live for swiss chard. I love, love, love, love, love it. I love it like I love asparagus. And beets. Yum.
But I never get it in the winter. Never. It's a summer only treat for me and I eat as often as they grow - which turns out to be about every other day.
This year, I planted a huge section of swiss chard because I wanted MORE of it. The caterpillars have been fierce this year and have essentially reduced my growth of swiss chard to half.
But it's still something I eat every other day. I eat it as a snack or an addition to my lunch, not as a substitute for anything else.
So the way I see it, either the swiss chard, the sun, the berries, the decrease in exercise (say what???) or the increase in my children's fighting has been causing my weight loss.
I've lost 6 pounds this month with essentially no effort. Working out once a week is NO EFFORT. I'm actually embarrassed to have told anyone about it.
The extra fighting (and consequent stress) could make me lose weight...if I was losing muscle and hair. But I'm not. I am awesomely healthy right now and I keep track of my body fat and muscle percentages. I am maintaining all my muscle (yeeeaaahh!) and my body fat is at 16% and trending downward.
It's enough to make me want to FIND swiss chard in the winter and keep eating berries...even if they are frozen all winter long! A new Whole Foods just opened up 10 miles from my house and I think it might be worth taking a trip out there.
So instead of pouring your money into weight loss pills and gym memberships, you may want to try eating more berries and greens. It's natural and healthy, plus it's easy (and tasty!)
Of course, you should still exercise - and time in the sun....that's something to look into.
If you've found and metabolism boosting (but still healthy and natural) foods, feel free to comment below and share them with everyone.