electronic thermometer

This ebook written by Elizabeth Walling has come to my awareness at an apropos time. It is on sale now for 35% off until May 31, 2013. Take a look: The Nourished Metabolism

I have been feeling internally chilled of late. I have also had uncomfortably cold feet on some nights that worried me, so the nutritionist I’ve been working with, Anne Fischer Silver, had me take my basal body temperature for a week several times a day. My temperature was consistently low – not at the normal range of 97.8 – 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit once at any time of day, which Elizabeth Walling identifies as a a tell tale sign of slow or “stressed” metabolism in her book The Nourished Metabolism. Other symptoms are mood swings, inability to handle stress, dry skin, dandruff, brittle nails, psoriasis, eczema, poor digestion, constipation, diarrhea, allergies, erratic sleep patterns – insomnia, trouble falling or staying asleep, exhaustion – alternating between wired and tired, blood sugar crashes, PMS, irregular menstrual cycles, low sex drive and other signs of hormonal imbalance.

Several of these symptoms are true for me, and I am not surprised.

I am in deep need of balance, which is one of the reasons I have recently decided to move from San Francisco to Portland. What I’ve come to understand is that to nourish one’s metabolism isn’t only about what we put into our mouths. It is about every aspect of our being – mind, body, spirit and emotion.

Elizabeth Walling covers these topics in The Nourished Metabolism:

  • Chapter 1: Why You Need a Nourished Metabolism
  • Chapter 2: Stress: Metabolism Killer
  • Chapter 3: Dieting: The Ultimate Metabolic Stressor
  • Chapter 4: Digestion: The Energy Gateway
  • Chapter 5: A Balanced Plan for Eating
  • Chapter 6: Salt, Sugar and Water Myths
  • Chapter 7: Supplements vs. Superfoods
  • Chapter 8: Why You Need Better Sleep (And How to Get It)
  • Chapter 9: Smart and Balanced Exercise
  • Chapter 10: Biofeedback: It’s What Your Body Has to Say
  • Chapter 11: Metabolism and Weight

I interviewed Elizabeth on Monday. During our conversation, she highlighted the importance of mindfulness — paying attention to how what you are eating is effecting your body. She talked about bio-individuality, and the need to tailor our diets based on our unique bodies.  As a result her book is not a diet plan to follow but, rather a set of principles to consider and experiment with. She highlights the fact that nutrient density is critical. We need to balance nutrient density with energy. We need to eat enough food and to eat enough of the different types of food to supply the body with what it needs to rebuild.

Stress: Metabolism Killer

I chose to publish this book review on this blog, rather than Nourishing Ourselves because having children can be fairly stressful and I envisioned a lot of parents may be out of balance.

“One of the mistakes a lot of people make is to conclude that the diet is everything and that only what we are eating is important. There is so much else going on especially in our society today that people didn’t have to deal with traditionally. All the different kinds of stresses, whether it is emotional and mental stress or the stress of being exposed to toxic chemicals all day through plastics, beauty products, cleaning products and all that. Or not getting enough sleep, which is really common in our society, or maybe even exercising way too much, which is also really common amongst health conscious people. So it is important to see what in your life is causing your body stress.”

I have identified for myself that not getting enough sun light is causing my body stress, which Elizabeth lists on p. 18 of her book. I have been making changes accordingly – ensuring I get outdoors more, in bare feet and in shoes, and it feels very nourishing. Elizabeth and I talked about the fact that it isn’t just sun, an isolated factor, so to speak — but, what nourishes us is all the “co-factors” we experience when we are outdoors. I’ve also identified that working every day of the week, at least for part of the day, week in and week out, year after year is unsustainable, so I am moving toward creating a true day weekend, or sabbath, where there I consistently experience time where I am not “working”.  In my case, a lot of my work is also my pleasure and my joy. Nonetheless, I have a strong sense I need more rest and time away from the computer. Hence, my plan for an urban homestead with a garden and chickens.

Minimizing stress is  at the core of Elizabeth’s recommendations. Another is to stop dieting, and to avoid the scale because the scale doesn’t tell the whole picture.

Balance

Elizabeth talked about the importance of not going to extremes, as much as possible, noting that we collectively tend to go back and forth to extremes. Clearly, what creates balance for each one of us is different. She encourages us to actively listen to our body, in order to see how it to responds. “Be mindful, look at your life and be honest.”  She thinks that having a bit of routine in your life can go a long way. Creating habits that nourish us. Elizabeth, who is herself a mother of two, thinks it is important to create a foundation and build from there. For example, in her case, she prioritizes sleep. She doesn’t work late into the night.  It is very rare that she only lets herself get 5 or 6 hours of sleep. She rarely skips meals. She ensures she eats enough – for her every couple of hours. She thinks it is important to be flexible in order to stay in balance and manage stress. One doesn’t have to do everything.

Matt Stone’s Protocol

I asked Elizabeth what the differences and similarities are between The Nourished Metabolism and Matt Stone‘s approach?  I have not read his books however, I know his approach to boosting one’s metabolism has worked for some in our community. Elizabeth explains: “My approach is similar in some ways and different in other ways. His approach is definitely geared toward the hard-core dieter. His approach is to fix it quickly by kind of going to the other extreme, which I think does work, and like you said, it focuses a little more on less/lower quality foods, it is easier to get a lot of energy in. Like I said in my book about balancing energy and nutrients, I think it is something you can do in a balanced way, and make small changes and I think this can help people with weight gain and things like that when you aren’t jumping from one extreme to another. I think that is really important for you on a mental and emotional level. To feel balanced and not feel like you have to be dieting or over-eating. One is hurting your body and another one is supposed to be fixing it but it doesn’t always feel that great. I think it is important, where ever you are, and whatever is the biggest problem for you is to take it one step at a time. So, if you feel you aren’t eating enough nourishing food, to add a couple of new things in, change the way you eat a little bit, if you feel like you are not eating enough, and if eating dessert helps you eat enough, I think that is okay but, it is important to know that your body doesn’t really want to eat a whole cheesecake. For me personally, I found that I really needed to find a balance on an emotional and mental level and stop saying that I really needed to be either under eating or overeating and cycling back and forth and come to a place where I could just be and just live so that my whole life wasn’t consumed by what I was eating and how much of it I was eating.”

“With Matt Stone’s protocol, it is really about correcting an imbalance but, sort of by going to the other extreme until you can find your balance and that can involve eating less nutrient food if that works for you. I think there is some merit to that.  I think eating a lot of milk shakes and pizza and that sort of stuff at first … if you have a really damaged metabolism, I think it can raise your body temperature but, at the same time I don’t think it really brings you to a place where you know what to eat and know what to do after and know how to live the rest of your life and eat for the rest of your life.  Which is why I don’t really believe in any diet protocol that you can lay out for 30 days or 60 days.  It is so hard to do and commit to, and then you come to the end and have to figure out what you’re going to do for the rest of your life.  That is why I think it is so much important to instead of jumping to another extreme to fix the problem to figure out what it is going to take for your body personally. I think for some people they do okay having more white rice and having a few more desserts and things like that but, that is something you need to figure out for your own body and what works for you and what is most important to you and what fits into your life because for some people it is much more difficult to have access to certain traditional foods and for others it is easier so it is all about putting it together for your life and what works best for your body and in your life.”

I noted that for me personally, I don’t thrive with the 80/20% rule – whereby we are encouraged to allow a certain percentage of our dietary intake to be less than ideal.  I feel much more well served at 95%.  If I go too far, I start to suffer on every level.

Biofeedback

As Elizabeth observes, each person is going to need to find what creates stress for them, and what creates balance for them. What creates balance for me will not create it for others. It also changes for us in the course of our lives. The book gives suggestions but, doesn’t offer a concrete plan as a result.

Some symptoms I am experiencing, coupling with this book, have served as a wake-up call for me to engage in biofeedback and to hear what my body has to say, as Elizabeth outlines in chapter 10.

Do you suspect your metabolism is out of balance? When you consider your life – have you identified areas of stress and imbalance? How are your sleep patterns, your mood, your hair, skin, digestion, temperature?  Again, Elizabeth cautions us to keep biofeedback in perspective:

Biofeedback is a useful tool that can help you keep track of your progress or see where your habits are holding you back. But remember to keep a balanced perspective about biofeedback. Don’t let yourself get too tangled up in measuring and weighing every single factor. Remember: stress is the enemy of metabolic health!

In closing, Elizabeth remarked that “Food is not quite the whole picture, it is the way you live.  For some people, food might be the most important thing they need to change and for some people it might be their lifestyle, or where they live or their relationships that they have, so it is all about looking at your life and seeing what areas you can improve on.”

Nourish

This book is not simply about raising your metabolism, it is about nourishing your metabolism: The Nourished Metabolism – 35% off until May 31, 2013.