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…”

Next time you glance at a magazine and secretly desire to look like the cover model… think again…

These days even some of the most beautiful women in the world have to be digitally altered to look thinner (abnormally thin, something that doesn’t even look natural).

Case in point, stunning Jessica Alba had to be airbrushed the 2009 Campari calendar.

You probably heard about this.

In fact, touch-ups removed flesh from her already slim thighs, slimmed her waist, her curves are gone and bust more defined (see photos here)

Is the ‘after’ photo better?

Is it inhumanly good?

Personally, I think the ‘before’ is way better. More real. More natural.  Softer and still gorgeous.

There’s a point where ‘skinnier’ doesn’t mean better.

What’s worse, these airbrushed photos pose standards and expectations that are simply unrealistic and impossible to attain.

I mean, it’s natural to desire to look and feel your best. Yet some days it seems like… you can’t be skinny enough… young enough… perfect enough!

It’s like your body is under constant public scrutiny (and for celebrities, I guess they’re expected to look flawless 24/7).

Whoever poisoned people’s minds with the “if you’re not thin you’re fat!”

Has the media distorted our idea of “What’s Average”?

Take for example, Jessica Simpson’s recent case…

Last month the singer steps out to perform in Florida in a fuller figure… and, get this… it sparked headlines like “Is Jessica fat or just curvy?” and a seriously overweight cartoons of her in The New York Post.

Seriously, is this what people consider ‘overweight’?!

(image courtesy of Yahoo OMG!)

(for more on this read this excellent blog post by Melissa McEwan

There’s countless examples just like that (see my previous pot for some interesting ‘digital imagery magic’ samples).

Plus, I bet you’re noticing that tabloid trend.

Even more, some of us are getting caught up in this.

Snappy Snaps, the English photo specialist, have been reporting a 550% increase in ‘photo retouching’ requests.

These are requests by non-celebs, every day men and women. I guess it’s a bit like digital plastic surgery with instant results (reference).

Another blog post by Lara Oliver confirms this:

“I’ve already seen a huge spike in the amount of girls who edit their profile pictures on the Internet in hopes of smoothing out skin, enlarging and/or shrinking areas of their body or changing colors in order to seem more appealing. And it makes me really sad. Not only is it lying, but it also demonstrates a severe lack of self-esteem on the part of most young women today.”

Lara hits the nail on the head when she says:

“So, if female celebrities aren’t even attractive enough anymore to grace magazines, movie covers and other print outlets without major editing, how are regular women supposed to feel?”

What about you?

Are you feeling the pressure?

Do you simply ignore it and set your own goals?

How do you handle this when it seems that… in the lens of the media… none of us are ‘good enough’ (not even naturally beautiful celebrities!)?

Dedicated to looking and feeling your best,

M. Jamal

Have you ever looked at a stunning figure or near perfect beauty in a magazine (or newspaper) and thought… is this for real?

The reality is… more and more photos are re-touched to perfection.

I’ll be posting more on this tomorrow, for now check out some proof of how easy this is:

Here’s another illustration called…

The “200% Body: Everything you can do with your appearance”

It’s hard to believe how easy it is to touch-up and transform an average photo into an exaggerated, ideal near-super woman. Click here to see it… then click the photo, wait a moment for the presentation to load… then click the bottom strip that reads “What Is Real And What Is Not? Click To See”

M. Jamal

You probably know that Valentines is the second largest card-sending holiday of the year after Christmas… yet… what if you’re looking for a ‘last minute love note’ or… idea to spark a lovely Valentines evening?

Well, this blog post is just for you because you get 6 ideas to achieve that.

Here’s how it started…

3 hours ago I walk into a florist that looked Pure Red.

Red wallpaper, staff dressed in red and it’s full of red roses and hear shaped chocolates. As I walk out my cousin turns and says, “Hey, you got any nice love notes I could SMS on Valentines?”

That’s when I thought it’s worth posting a ‘last minute’ Valentines special.

This serves two purposes:

Firstly, if you’re stuck and trying to find a quick way to show your love and affection… then now you’ve got easy access to 6 tools that hand you… shortcuts to making the most out of valentines.

Secondly, it’s a chance to let Valentine’s day be the spark… a fresh start… a reason to transform your love life. Work love into your life. The way you love your partner, your family (and hey… they way you love yourself).

So here’s your six Valentines Tools:

  1. Your “50 Romantic Indulgences” Report:

    Think of it as your collection of romantic ideas to rekindle the passion in your relationship (or spice up your dates) and transform your love life.Now I don’t necessarily recommend every page of this report, yet you’re sure to find a handful of techniques and tips (out of those 50 ideas) that’ll ignite your love life.

    Here’s just one example from page 10:

    “Buy a pad of colored or fluorescent Post-it® notes about 3” x 3” in size.

    Write several love messages to him – one message on each Post-it® note.

    Stick them on various pages of his favorite book – especially the one he’s reading right now. As he turns the pages he’ll come across your love notes.”

    You can download your free copy here.

  2. 7 Valentine’s Wall Papers:

    Get first 4 desktop wall papers by clicking here… next 3 wall papers by clicking here.

  3. Love SMS:

    if you’re into texting and out of words to say to your special someone you’ll love this.There’s countless SMS samples to choose from, such as:

    “Tears can sometimes be more special than smiles…
    For smiles can be given to any one…
    But tears are only shed for people we love!
    Happy Valentine’s Day!!”

    Or this one…

    “I searched through books & leafed through cards,
    For words that wud convey, what I had in my heart,
    But when I sat down to write, all I can write was….
    I Love You!”

    To get more of these, go here and scroll down a bit to see all samples.

    And here’s a second one

    Here’s two that I like:

    “Each of us are angles
    with only one wing;
    and we can only fly by embracing
    one another.
    you want to become angle?
    Come and I will give my wing.
    Love U.So much.”

    “What is love?
    Love is when someone breaks your heart
    and the most amazing thing is that
    u still love the person with each broken piece.”

    You can get more of these here.

  4. Over 126 Love Cards:

    Here’s your shortcut to send your special one a love card… you’ll find plenty here, click the one you like… scroll down and enter his email and a quick love note. (There’s over 15 pages filled with nothing but love cards.)

  5. Same as last one, these are “I Love You Because” love notes and there’s 25 you can print.Simply select one, click the image and there’s a “Print It” below the image.
  6. Make Your Heart-Shaped Love Notes:

    Here’s a creative technique that turns your colored paper into hearts (then you can use these to write your love notes).

Wishing You A Happy Valentine’s Day,

M. Jamal