Metabolism. I talk about it a lot on my Instagram. But what does metabolism even mean?
Metabolism - "The process by which large molecules, such as carbs, fats and proteins (aka food) are broken down via chemical reactions into smaller molecules that can be used as fuel, stored, or assembled into new compounds the body needs"
Okay, what the heck does that mean? Basically metabolism is the energy your cells need to thrive.
Everyone has a Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) which is the number of calories your body needs to live, move, work, breath, exist. Basically what you need to survive and sustain a healthy state at REST. So this number doesn't include exercise.
Severe dieting and stress on your body lowers your metabolism. Since I severely restricted my diet for years and overexercised, my metabolism changed. It slowed down. If I ate just a small amount of extra food one day, my body would bloat up and I would feel awful. Your body gets used to "surviving" off of so few calories that eventually you just get stuck. I lost my period, I had messed up hunger cues. I got used to being in starvation mode. My body just stalled.
When you're recovering from an eating disorder, you're eating more. And that can be extremely scary because you're afraid of gaining weight. You will gain weight. The weight you need. But after increasing calories, your metabolism will boost and you'll find your body turning into a calorie revving machine. But HOW?
HOW do you "fix" your metabolism or "boost" it back to normal so your body utilizes energy better?
Here are some steps you can take:
1. Eat Enough/More Food
Putting yourself in a crazy calorie deficit is NOT the solution to anything. Not even losing weight. So what do you do? You need to eat more. You need to eat enough.
If you've been suffering from an eating disorder then it's likely you've been starving yourself. You need to eat more so your body can... well, work at its best, so you can think properly, so you don't get sluggish, so you can be healthy. You need to eat at LEAST your BMR. Increase portion sizes, add more snacks into your day, eat a snack before bed, etc. These are all ways you can increase your food intake. Do it. Do it slowly and you will notice amazing changes.
"Columbia University's Health Services state that during eating disorder recovery, as your food intake increases, your metabolism increases as well, thus upping your caloric needs further. Continue to feed your body sufficient calories each day to keep your metabolism running high."
2. Strength Train
When you strength train, you add more muscle mass to your body. More muscle mass means you burn more calories AFTER your workout, and throughout the entire day. Therefore, you need more food to eat and you've "boosted" your metabolism. Learn more about the benefits of weight lifting HERE.
*Note if you're recovering and have decided to stop exercising - that's TOTALLY OKAY! And healthy if you need to. But if you want to get back into it, and when you're ready, get into weight lifting/strength training. Your body will love you for it.
My experience: I did not stop exercising during recovery. But I changed the way I worked out. I stopped doing endless hours of cardio and instead started circuit training with body weight exercises. Then I progressed on to weight lifting, which I still do today. AND LOVE! If you're going to do cardio, then do HIIT! Quick bursts of intense exercises will boost that metab. Read more about my workouts HERE.
3. Drink all the water
Drinking water not only helps clear your skin, give you energy and just makes you feel good, it actually also helps increase your metabolism because it puts your body to work.
"German researchers found that drinking 6 cups of cold water a day (that's 48 ounces) can raise resting metabolism by about 50 calories daily—enough to shed 5 pounds in a year. The increase may come from the work it takes to heat the water to body temperature"
4. Eat Breakfast
Okay, now I will be real with you. Eating breakfast won't make you lose weight. What matters is the TOTAL numbers of calories you are eating throughout the day, NOT what time. BUT I have personally found that eating breakfast revs up my body and gives me more energy throughout the day, which therefore boosts my metabolism. I have found that eating breakfast literally wakes up my metabolism. If I don't eat breakfast within an hour after waking up, I can feel my body already responding negatively and I have an "off" day.
5. Get Enough Sleep/Relaxation
Now you're probably thinking what does sleep have to do with boosting my metabolism? Sleep gives you energy. When you lack sleep it's likely that you'll be extra hungry the next day and your body will crave not-so-healthy carbs. I know that's what happens to me. I get really irritable and that in itself causes me to crave junk food.
"When you're exhausted, your body lacks the energy to do its normal day-to-day functions, which include burning calories, so your metabolism is automatically lowered," explains Peeke.
Now let's talk stress. Unfortunately this is more common than not. If you're constantly stressed, it can actually slow down your metabolism because it changes your hormones. You're likely to gain more belly fat easier. And even though you may want to gain weight because of recovery, you don't want stress to be your cause of weight gain.
"Stress wreaks metabolic havoc by reducing the total number of calories that you burn in a day, impairing blood sugar control, and affecting insulin, testosterone, and thyroid hormones."
So there are my tips on how to "boost" your metabolism after an eating disorder. When I look back at them, they are really just about taking care of yourself. Also, notice that I never mentioned any "superfoods" or "metabolism boosting" foods you should eat. I never want to list foods you should or shouldn't eat. If you're into that, it's cool. But that was a huge part of my ED and I no longer want to put limits or have "good" and "bad" lists. Instead, I want to just do what feels good.
I hope this helped some!
What Else is Happening!?
You can now buy POPFLEX activewear through my special link! All you have to do is click the button below to take you to the site, and then make your purchase from there! When you're there, be sure to sign up for the Rewards Program to earn points. The more points you earn, the more money you save buying POPFLEX! You can literally get free workout clothes!! WHAT! I know, right? Insane. If you buy through my link, let me know and next time I make a purchase I will buy through your link so you earn 500 POINTS!! It's all about collabing!
Here I am wearing the 2.0 POP Short in Nightfall, the Set the Bar Bra in Mermaid, and the Criss Cross Crop in Mermaid. I wear a size 2 in the shorts and am a size 4 in sports bras, for reference.