Have you ever stopped to consider that your body functions in a similar way to an engine?
We need to understand that just like an engine, our individual biological body engines need to be looked after properly on a regular basis. It’s just as important to look after the internal workings if we want to look and feel our best. A shiny sports car with beautiful paintwork is no good if the engine doesn’t work properly.
Without proper maintenance and the right fuel the engine will break down. It’s just the same for us.
The human body engine in men and women doesn’t always function in exactly the same way. So why should we expect the same diet and exercise programs to be the perfect solution for everyone? As a woman, I want to focus firstly on how we can take care of our feminine engines, from the onset of puberty into adulthood, throughout our busy lives as working women and mothers into the menopause and life in retirement.
Focus on Fact not Fiction!
Here are five really important tips that I believe any woman trying to get in shape and take care of her body engine for the long term ought to know.
1. Avoid extreme dieting
If your body can’t digest food properly the metabolism won’t work properly and burn calories efficiently, and it’s more likely to hold onto fat stores.
Any type of extreme dieting will only make this worse as the body is pushed into starvation survival mode. It takes time to convert body fat into calories and this simply can’t be hurried.
If you try to lose weight quickly, you will lose non-fatty tissue like muscle, the metabolism will slow even further to conserve calories and hormones will trigger increased retention of fat particularly in the breasts, hips and thighs in women.
2. Ditch the junk food
All processed food, including processed diet products, is engineered and not natural.
Often the molecular structure has been manipulated and could contain potentially dangerous substances that are almost impossible to digest and some may be addictive.
Strangely low-fat processed food may have a higher sugar content than the ‘regular’ product. In general, refined food contains a lot of hidden fat, particularly saturated fat which has been proven to cause an increase in blood cholesterol levels.
3. Work ‘in tune’ with your body
Your body shape is partly governed by your genetic heritage. Some people appear to have a ‘fatness gene’ which basically means their fat cells are programmed to divert more calories into fatty energy stores than others would.
This is more common in women. If you aim to get down to an unrealistic weight that is too low for your pre-programmed natural body shape, you’ll be at war with your body engine and are destined to fail.
It’s also important to remember that your weight fluctuates naturally from day to day and is affected by factors like the menstrual cycle.
4. Tick tock: Listen to your body clock
Everybody has a personal body-clock, basically a central control for all our fluctuating bio-rhythms.
It sends chemical messages to switch loads of different processes on and off at the right time, for example, appetite control. But it can be easily knocked off-course, for example by extreme diets.
The monthly menstrual cycle also affects mood and appetite, often leading to cravings. If you eat a lot of high sugar food on an empty stomach this upsets your serotonin level and causes ‘sugar dumps’. After an initial boost, you’ll feel worse as your pancreas releases extra insulin to try to control the blood sugar level. But just one sweet or a piece of chocolate will trigger the feel-good factor, particularly if you eat it slowly.
5. Stretch and slim
Many types of exercise, for example down at the gym, focus on repetitive muscle pumping which creates solid bulky muscle mass. This won’t smooth out those bumps and bulges.
To achieve lean muscle mass and a more streamlined body shape you need to stretch the muscles without straining or tearing them and improve flexibility.
Both Hatha yoga and Pilates are well-known methodologies that use this approach.
Work in Harmony with Your Feminine Body Engine!
It’s clear that we all need to work in harmony with our feminine engine and focus on the longer term benefits and not be so impatient for fast results.
Extremes just don’t work.