My Slowing Metabolism

The previous post about growing old gracefully has reminded me I wanted to talk a moment about another of the joys if getting just a bit older. I don’t say getting old because really I am still quite young, but getting past the 30 mark several years back has brought about some of the expected yet despised changes. Translation: ever since turning 30 my body metabolism has not been helping me in my efforts to maintain a reasonable weight.

I’m not a big guy, yet not small. Slightly above average in height (at least I like to think), but I have always been heavier even when in the best of shape. In fact, I don’t float in the pool which has always been frustrating. Treading water is a particularly strenuous workout for me because of this. It was a bit of trauma when taking swimming lessons as a kid. One of the early requirements to pass off is the “dead man’s float” which if you don’t remember is where you simply float on your stomach with arms and legs outstretched to conserve energy. I would get into the right position and my float would quickly turn into me straight up and down a foot under water.

“You’re doing it wrong” my instructor would say.

“How do you screw up the dead man’s float?” I would ask.

My mother simplified it for me. “Your just dense son.” Gee, thanks, mom.

Looking back, it was a good thing overall. My muscle density was high as compared to my body fat, which was always in the 7-10% range. Pretty good. The problem was that I didn’t have to do anything special to be at that level; my lifestyle was very active and my metabolism was through the roof. I could eat anything I wanted and it didn’t make a bit of difference.

Fast forward to today. I work on a computer all day and the most vigorous activity of the day is the rousing mid-afternoon foosball tournament with co-workers. Though I may work up a sweat with the fun-filled intensity, my heart rate isn’t reaching and sustaining any kind of fat-burning cardio level. Fact is nothing in my daily events does much if anything for my health. Weekends in the warmer months I get my hands dirty in the yard work and outdoor chores, but not enough on a daily basis. I’m sure my wife would welcome a little more manual labor mid-week as the honey-do continues to grow.

This is why I have to hit the gym, which I do fairly well in spurts. My consistency leaves something to be desired, but I keep working on that. Sleep is just a precious commodity that when that alarm sounds early in the morning, my body sometimes takes over and hits that off switch without my conscious side of the brain ever realizing it. At times I have to resort to the put-the-alarm-across-the-room tactic to make sure I am realizing that beeping sound isn’t just a part of my dream world.

After 30 muscle mass drops around 1.5 lbs per year unless you actively lift weights to counter this process. Cardio exercise is a must to keep the metabolism up as well. Sad fact of life. At least I can take some comfort in knowing I am not alone in this situation. It happens to practically all of us. There are a few exceptions where people stay wiry and thin all their lives with no effort, but the bulk (pun intended) of us have to realize that controlling food consumption and a concerted effort has to rise post 30.

I am not complaining too much, my weight isn’t completely out of control, but I am the heaviest I have been in my life. The love handles are requiring a bit extra stretch in the hand size if you get my drift. Pants that were purchased for some extra size in the past are hitting that tight point again – not a good thing. I think what keyed me into this more recently was seeing that I had unconsciously moved up another notch in the belt. I could tell because the previous notch showed the signs of having been stretched to its limit before I made the change. Isn’t that a terrible thing to notice?

So, today I remind myself of my non-New Year’s Resolution to fight this growing trend. It just gotta to be kept in check.