We come across folks who seem to be able to eat as much as they want and still maintain their weight, and we also know some who meticulously count calories yet gain weight rapidly.

In most cases like these, we traditionally turn to ‘metabolism’ as the culprit.

What Exactly Is Metabolism?

Metabolism is the process by which food is converted into energy by your body.

This involves countless biochemical processes in which calories from proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in the food you eat combine with oxygen to release energy.

Each day, your body burns a certain number of calories, representing what’s called your total energy expenditure.

This is affected by three major factors:

Processing of food. About 10% of the calories are used to fuel digestion, absorption, transport, and storage of the food you eat. Generally, this percentage remains steady and cannot easily change.

Basic needs. About 66-75% of calories are used for basic bodily functions such as breathing, circulating blood, repairing cells, adjusting hormonal levels, and keeping the organs properly functioning.

The calories your body uses up to maintain itself is called your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, which is measured in kilojoules.

When you are on a weight loss regimen, it’s important to preserve your muscle mass, because this is responsible for your BMR.

When muscle, or lean mass, is reduced, your BMR is also reduced.

Men have higher BMRs (about 7,100 kJ/day) than women (about 5,900 kJ/day) and although you continuously expend energy throughout the day, your BMR is lowest early in the morning.

Physical activity.

This may pertain to any movement you perform, such as swimming, running, walking, or even going up and down the stairs. You have great control over this aspect since it is determined by the duration, frequency, and intensity of your movements or activities.

Even if the energy expended by the muscles comprise a mere 20% of the total energy expenditure, this may go up to about 50% during strenuous exercise.

The Myth About Metabolism

We’ve been told since we were small that slim people have high metabolism while those who are overweight are ‘victims’ of slow metabolism.

This is true to a certain extent, but is not always correct.

Rather, weight gain or loss depends more on the balance between total calories consumed and total energy expended.

If you have a habit of taking in more than you can burn, expect to tip the scales at steadily growing figures.

It is for this reason that the benefits of diet and exercise cannot be overemphasized.

The BMR is also influenced by many factors that work in combination with each other.

True, it’s partly affected by your genes, but you also need to take into account age, gender, hormonal imbalances, illnesses, dietary deficiencies, the amount of muscle and body fat, and even crash dieting.

For instance, going on crash diets won’t speed up your metabolism – in fact, you’ll get opposite results, as your body automatically slows down metabolism to conserve energy due to your low caloric intake.

There are, of course, several effective and safe ways to work around one’s predisposition to a sluggish metabolism to get rid of unwanted inches and pounds.

M. Jamal

You probably noticed a trend in my past few posts… it’s focused on the issue of “Body Image” and how it affects your health, fitness and outlook on life.

It’s an essential part of feeling your best. Let’s call it ‘loving the skin your in’

Anyway, I’ve recently come across an interesting report that sheds a light on this very same topic that’s worth a look.

The “Changing Perceptions” report is all about focusing on positive body images and promoting a healthy self-esteem among young women.

It covers things like:

  • Why some store’s clothing of size 16 are close to a 12 (hint: did you know that a US size 4 is a 38 in Italy?) See page 4 & table on page 5
  • Proof that catwalk models and celebrities look just like us (are you dieting to ‘fit in’ or are you dying to be thin?). Plus, a simple yet powerful technique to shift your ‘self-talk’ – page 6
  • How prime-time TV reprograms culture (this is crucial if you’ve got kids) and how you can spot this even in cartoon characters; Pocahontas vs. Snow White! Plus, how some advertisers exploit the “paedophilic fashion” effect – Page 7 – 8
  • How some magazines have been pushing the “fashion and beauty are one and the same” concept and how it relates to ‘tween’ stores – an eye opener and another reason for the increased body dissatisfaction among women – page 9
  • Think you wann’a get a sun tan (or even whiten your skin)? Think again. 6 tanning options reviewed (and their dangers) – example, is it true that Spray Tanning contains unsafe amounts of lead and arsenic? Page 10, 11
  • When model’s transformation is more than just designer outfits, layers or makeup and hours of hairstyling… even models have bad days, yet this one step covers it all producing an ‘unreal’ perfect woman (part of the ‘brainwashing’ effect to believing you’re not good enough!) – page 12
  • What’s worse than people’s negative comments… when everyday you cross paths with someone that’s got something negative to say about your personality or appearance… here’s how to turn the tables in your favor – page 20

You can download your report by going here (then scroll down to “Changing Perceptions Magazine.pdf”)

Have a great day,

M. Jamal

Do you feel comfortable in your skin?

Do you ever compare yourself to other women you meet or pass by?

Sometimes it’s hard to stop such thoughts from popping into your head – especially with every other mag, billboard and TV commercial trying to portray a ‘super woman’ figure that’s hardly realistic (see my earlier post When Gorgeous Jessica Alba Isn’t Thin Enough!!).

How about turning that cycle around and loving yourself on a deeper level?

Learn to Love Your Body.

Well, I found this interesting video that gives you 5 steps to loving the skin you’re in (check it out and see the “in front of the mirror switch your thoughts” example)

Here’s another one that expands on the same concept (how “what’s considered beautiful has changed over time and where the ‘thin & skinny’ came into the picture”… plus… “food choice drivers”)

Would love to know what you think about the issue of Body Image: Do you ever struggle with this? Do you ever find it frustrating?

M. Jamal

P.S. Check out this Dove ‘Body Image’ Ad shoot.

It’s sort of taking a peak inside the beauty industry. I thought it’s worth sharing with you as I glanced at this comment: “Its amazing that we base our vision of beauty on people that don’t really exist…”