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We all know that metabolism is the "internal furnace" that burns calories. People with a "good" metabolism seem to be able to eat anything and not gain weight, whereas people with "bad" metabolisms seem only to have to think about food and they put on a few pounds! We know that over the years, our activities and lifestyles  have much to do with how healthy our metabolism is. The normal aging process has a decrease effect on metabolism as well as our increasingly sedentary lifestyles.The good news is that we can do things that not only maintain a healthy metabolism, but we can actually increase our metabolism. Our Muscle Flex classes are a great way to increase your muscle mass, which in turn has an immediate and direct effect on your Basil Metabolic Rate or BMR. Below is an excerpt from Prevention Magazine on various ways to effectively boost your metabolism. It's a new year! Let's make some new resolutions.


Provided by Prevention Magazine


Metabolism is a mystery. You may know that mastering it is the key to losing weight, but what is it? And where is it? Turns out it's the engine that drives every cell, and that means it's everywhere. Your metabolism helps you walk, talk, fight off illness, even read this article. Its fuel is calories. Each one you consume goes into the metabolic tank that powers the machine that is you. Keep that tank filled and you're good to go, right? 


If only it were that simple. As you age, your body becomes less effective at burning calories, mostly because of a gradual decrease in activity and resulting loss of muscle. Your metabolism can dip as much as 25 to 30 percent over your adult life, says Miriam Nelson, Ph.D., director of the John Hancock Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Tufts University. As a result, your body tends to store excess calories in the form of -- you guessed it -- bodyfat, and that extra weight only slows you down more. 


You don't, however, have to resign yourself to a life of forgiving jersey fabrics and shape-disguising tunics. For most women, strength-training can help boost metabolism by as much as 10 percent in 12 weeks by rebuilding muscle. You can increase it further by making small but targeted lifestyle changes. "Anything that energizes you -- a good night's sleep, fresh air, sunlight, a healthy diet, regular exercise -- ultimately helps drive metabolism," explains Nelson.


With that in mind, we've designed a round-the-clock plan that will tune up your fat-burning engine, boosting its efficiency and maximizing calorie burn morning, noon and night. By shifting your body into high gear, these timely tips will help you burn 200 to 300 more calories a day. (And that doesn't even take into account your regular exercise routine.) Can't do it all? Don't worry -- employing even a few of these steps will confer benefits. Now let's get going.


Morning

Eat a 300- to 400-calorie breakfast

In the AM, your energy stores are depleted by as much as 80 percent from the night before. Without food, your body           shifts into starvation mode, which means it begins to conserve energy and burn fewer calories. (In other words: Your           metabolic rate takes a nosedive.) That may be why, in one study, breakfast skippers were 4 1/2 times more likely to           be obese than breakfast eaters. For more long-lasting energy, include whole grain complex carbohydrates like oatmeal. 


Throw in a cup of halved strawberries


Research suggests that getting enough vitamin C -- 75 mg a day -- may be essential for optimal fat burning. The strawberries provide 90 mg.


Get a dose of sunlight


"Exposure to bright light decreases melatonin and increases serotonin, shifting your body from sleep to awake mode and, in turn, revving your metabolic furnace," says health and psychology researcher Robert K. Cooper, Ph.D., author of the metabolism book 'Flip the Switch.'


Take your multivitamin


Antioxidant nutrients help protect mitochondria, tiny structures found in every cell, from damage; they're the       microscopic fat-burning furnaces that convert food into fuel.


Move at the office


"Moving throughout the day -- even if it's just walking to a colleague's office rather than sending an e-mail -- keeps your  metabolism higher than doing a workout and then remaining sedentary," says James O. Hill, PhD, director of the Center      for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado at Denver. 


Sip a cup of coffee or tea


Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that moderately boosts metabolism, helping you burn about 20 extra             calories. 


Have a midmorning snack


Good choices are a reduced-fat cheese stick or a cup of low-fat yogurt and a piece of fruit. Every time you eat, your body burns additional calories to digest the food. Take advantage of this automatic boost by eating something -- even if it's very small -- every 3 to 4 hours.


Your AM Routine: Energizing Yoga


Accelerate the natural metabolic boost that occurs when you wake up by doing these poses. Yoga can also help control levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which begins to rise after waking and can contribute to muscle loss and a resulting dip in metabolism. 


Downward Facing Dog


Kneel with hands directly beneath shoulders, knees beneath hips, and toes tucked. Press palms into floor and lift tailbone toward ceiling, straightening legs so body forms an inverted V, as shown. Keep shoulders away from ears and relax head between arms. Hold for three to five breaths. Bend knees and relax down to floor. 


Cobra


Lie face down with legs extended, toes pointed. Place hands on floor beneath shoulders, elbows close to torso. Press feet, thighs, hips, and pelvis firmly into floor and straighten arms, lifting chest as high as comfortably possible, as shown. Keep shoulders down and back, lifting through breastbone, opening chest, and lengthening spine. Hold for three to five breaths. Tuck toes under and push back into Downward Facing Dog. Repeat moves three to five times.


Afternoon


Eat a protein-packed lunch You'll burn more calories digesting your midday meal because protein is more difficult to break down than carbohydrates or fat.


Try:


Roast turkey breast with sliced veggies and hummus wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla; add a piece of fruitSalmon salad (like tuna salad but with canned salmon) topped with lettuce and tomato on a whole wheat bun; carrot sticks and grapes on the side 

Chicken-vegetable soup with a whole wheat roll


Snack on nuts


As your blood sugar and energy levels hit the postlunch slump, your metabolism also takes a dip. The protein and fiber in a handful of nuts (about 20) can help stave off hunger and keep you energized until dinnertime. "Nuts also contain monounsaturated fats, which have been found in studies to stimulate fat burning," says Cooper. 


Laugh it up


Laughing eases stress and boosts calorie burn up to 20 percent, reports a Vanderbilt University study of 90 men and         women.


Take the stairs


Climbing stairs quickly elevates your heart rate for a metabolic jolt that burns 8 calories per minute -- twice as much as       brisk walking. Try to accumulate 5 to 10 minutes during the afternoon. 


Brew some green tea


Studies show that the polyphenol compounds in 2 to 4 cups may help raise metabolism by as much as 35 percent and   encourage fat burning. 


Commute -- with a CD


Relaxing music has been shown to reduce cortisol, a key metabolism-tempering hormone. Once tension has been tamed while on the highway, switch to more energizing music; upbeat tempos raise your heart and breathing rates and metabolism. And you'll be ready to tackle whatever awaits you when you arrive at home.


Stretch at your desk


Counter the metabolism-depressing effects of midday stress by boosting circulation and easing upper-body tension.And take deep breaths while you stretch to provide cells with the energy-producing oxygen they need to burn fat.


Excerpt from Prevention Magazine on line. 


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