At the end of a long winter, it's easy to feel wrung out and exhausted — not to mention completely fed up with staying indoors.
According to Colin Blayney, personal trainer and the manager of the Active 55 Plus fitness program at the Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre in Toronto, not being active in the winter can make our metabolism slow down, resulting in further feelings of heaviness and fatigue.
While some people claim to have either a "fast" or "slow" metabolism and throw up their hands at their genetic fate, in reality, that's something that can be changed. While DNA does play a part in it, metabolism can be sped up by muscle density and aerobic activity, according to the Daily Beast.
Blayney concurs, noting that it is possible to take control over your metabolism and help your body feel less sluggish — which of course, will help you feel less sluggish.
Check out his tips to boost your metabolism and improve your (almost springtime!) mood:
Stay away from refined foods:
If your body gets bogged down trying to break down highly processed foods, then that energy is not available for daily activities, explains personal trainer Colin Blayney. Eating a lot of processed foods like baked goods or pre-packaged dinners will leave you feeling sluggish, while eating a clean diet of whole grains, legumes, and lean protein (such as chicken, fish, or egg whites), will provide you with easily obtainable energy.
Drink plenty of water:
As our bodies break down molecules for their useful energy, waste products are produced. These need to be excreted from the body and keeping well-hydrated assists in this process, explains Blayney.
Eat more fibre:
Just as water helps to release waste from the body, so too does fibre. Fibre helps keep our digestive system functioning well, ensuring that toxic substances are not lingering around and causing us harm. Blayney recommends eating plenty of fruits and vegetables every day, as well as beans, legumes, and whole grains every week.
This is the single most effective way to boost your metabolism, states Blayney. Introducing a few basic exercises into your weekly routine will go a long way to increasing your body’s ability to burn calories, even at rest. Consider this -- resistance training boosts your body’s metabolism for up to 48 hours after you work out!
If you’re looking for the biggest return on your effort when it comes to weight training, then focus on large muscle groups. The largest muscle groups in the body are your quads and hips — both of which get fired up really well with squats. Three sets of 15 repetitions will do the trick, says Blayney. Be sure to squat into your hips, though, and not your knees. Keep your weight back on your heels as you squat, and don’t let your knees go in front of your toes.
The next largest muscle group in your body is your back muscles. Not only does the row exercise boost your metabolism, it also improves your posture. Keep your shoulders down, and squeeze your shoulder blades together as much as you can when you perform three sets of 15 repetitions, advises Blayney.
Your chest muscles are the third largest group – three sets of 15 repetitions will keep them active and burning calories. Be careful not to round your shoulders when performing this exercise.
As Blayney explains, exercise has a dilating effect on our blood vessels. An increase to your heart rate through walking, running, skiing, or skating maximizes the delivery of oxygen rich blood to your muscles, joints, and bones.
Reduce sugar, saturated fat, and alcohol intake:
While they may be delicious, these foods and beverages contain empty calories and provide little real energy. Whatever your body isn't able to burn will be stored as fat, notes Blayney.
Watch your portion sizes:
Even if you're eating the right foods, taking in too much of them can be just as bad. Sensible portion monitoring ensures that we get enough nutrients from our food, without gaining weight, says Blayney.