subscribe Signup for our Newsletter expand Expand Browser
Calorie Count Blog

Slow Down to Accelerate Your Weight Loss

By Igor on Apr 28, 2009 12:00 PM in Tips & Updates

I came across an interesting article on metabolism, which I will summarize here and add a few of my own thoughts to it.

As we are getting older, many of us are noticing that our lives are not getting any simpler. There are more things to take care of, and we don't get as much sleep and rest time as we used to. Shouldn't that mean that all this stress-related activity is also helping us burn more calories and allowing us to eat more?

We all know the answer to this question, for better or worse. It turns out that one and the same activity can have a different effect on your weight loss depending on how you spend the rest of your day.

The reason for this lies in the two nervous systems involved in metabolism: the sympathetic nervous system, known as "fight or flight," and the parasympathetic, known as "rest and digest." The sympathetic inhibts digestion and allows the body to focus all of its energy on the task at hand. It was meant to help us run away from dangerous animals and fight for our lives. In contrast, the parasympathetic nervous system directs blood to the digestive tract and makes sure food is actively digested.

While we are no longer running away from tigers and crocodiles, we do spend a disproportionate amount of time rushing, worrying, or just simply motivating ourselves to be productive at home, work, or elsewhere. Our predecessors were not half as productive as we are today. And neither are our children. Can you see the link there?

It's important to use the sympathetic nervous system to get your heart rate up and perform the hard work required to burn a decent amount of calories. However, it is the parasympathetic system that is required to restore the balance in your body, and allow it to burn your fat reserves rather than other more accessible forms of energy.

Metabolism is a complex subject and I don’t want to oversimplify it with a few brief points. I heartily recommend this article for a more thorough discussion on hormones, enzymes and fuel used in different metabolic states. However, if there is one thing that can be recommended to everyone is to get as much sleep as you can (see Mary's discussion on this topic), and to look for ways to slow down your life after high-intensity periods of time.


How timely, Igor.  I am going to forward this on to a good friend of mine.  We were just discussing last night the deficits of being too busy and not getting enough rest, while also trying to fit in our gym time.   It's all about balance. Thanks for your interesting insight into this topic.

So what is a good amount of rest?  I normally get the minimum of 7hrs of sleep a day.

Original Post by: mayflower30

So what is a good amount of rest?  I normally get the minimum of 7hrs of sleep a day.

Have you tried waking up on your own? It changed my life. Here's more about it when I just got started: One Change at a Time.

I just spent 3 days working in the garden, at a heavy pace---laying mulch and a heavy workload.  today is a rest day for me...and I am breathing it in very nicely. :)

thanks for the help..I Have a bad knee and have been told to quit pounding it as a result I cannot get execise like I used to.(three mile walk a day) According to my calculations for my weight I can only consume 1200 calories a day. this is sure not much but I must maintain my weight where it is now.


kblay, have you tried finding an upper body pedaller?  it's not the same, but you can sit and pedal and get in some exercise without straining your knee.  I don't know how bad your knees are, but if it's not really bad another thing to consider is using an elliptical at a gym-the motion is much smoother. 

During the week, I try to get as much sleep as I can but that is hard to do.  On the weekend I sleep in but for some reason I still get up early.

I have bad knees too, But I try to work out 5 days a week. 3days doing tae - bo and 2 day strength training or cycling. Tae bo was hard on me at first but  it seems the more I do it the easier it gets. It's funny Joyce Myers was just talking about the same thing on her show this mornng. She claimed that the more she exercised her legs in a reasonable fashion the stronger they seemed to get. I wouldn't recommend pressing large amounts of weight with bad knees. That's why my knees are bad today. I used to press 300 pound per workout with my legs and my doctor says that that is why my knees are broke down now. I do believe exercise that with reasonable exercise to the legs, they will get stronger. There are some moves on my Tae bo DVDs that i cant do, so I just continue to move until that set is over.



Also consider getting into the water.  Our local YMCA's water aerobics are pretty aggressive.  Like working out on any machine, you make it as hard as you want it.

Lack of sleep absolutely has an affect on your wgt loss goals - it makes you crave carbohydrates and sugar.  Try going to bed 1/2 hr earlier each night until you find the right amount of time you can "get away with" for sleep.  If you're trying to lose wgt, this is a really important time in your life - give your body the rest it needs.  Sleep is when your body does some of it's hardest work.  I'll bet your guy would be supportive of a little less time once he sees the results.

I used to have really bad knees, also. I would walk with a cane and push myself to walk a little bit. until it hurt. I lost weight and pushed a little every day. I now am able to walk a mile and have lost 45 pounds. It is really helping my pain, but I don't speak for every knee.

thanks for the help..I will look at the pac center to see if they have one.

I fall into bed at the end of the day.  I have two young children and they keep me hopping.  My husband cannot understand why I am so exhausted by 9pm.  I try to stay up with him for a little while, but I usually crash by 9:30.  I wake up naturally in the morning around 6:15 which gives me time to exercise before the kids wake up.  I do feel bad not spending more time with my husband, but that is what weekends are for.

As a retired senior, I'd LOVE to be able to sleep more than 7 hours each night.  Any suggestions?

mayflower30, im the exact same way. I wake up at 5.30 each weekday morning and go to bed around 10 pm.

on the weekends i go to bed around 1 a.m and wake up around 7 or 8! what the crap. Its the weirdest thing.

I do need to get more sleep, but I've been doing better. I used to stay up almost all night and then pass out at work which almost got me fired once. I've always struggled with insomnia. However, these days I've been getting at least six hours at night. I personally need nine to feel good, but I'm improving at the least. I'm going to start trying to make a better effort to get more sleep. <3

mayflower30 & healthisinplease:

I'm "glad" to see that I am not the only one that has that pattern. I typically get up between 5:30-5:45 (sometimes I am even awake on my own). I WANT to go to bed around 22:00, but it's very freequently closer to 23:00 or even midnight...

The day's just too short!

Sleep?!!!!   That is simply way to much PRESSURE people!!!!!!!

Re:  Igor's post (btw nice to meet you Igor) "While we are no longer running away from tigers and crocodiles, we do spend a disproportionate amount of time rushing, worrying, or just simply motivating ourselves to be productive at home, work, or elsewhere. Our predecessors were not half as productive as we are today. And neither are our children. Can you see the link there?"

Sorry to rain on Igor's parade LOL! Laughing but I DON'T see the link...  Our predecessors may not have been half as productive as we are, but they didn't  need to - they weren't filling up on processed foods.  I agree that our children aren't as productive either - hence the pandemic of overweight children in North America... 

What point did I miss!  LOL!  Maybe I need another tea?

Lynn aka mrsmci

I get 7 hours of sleep every night, I do laps in my pool for 30 min. every day and I still cannot lose weight. I do the amont of calories that I am suppose to do, and they are pretty healthy calories. I think my metabolism died and I cannot revive it.  LOL  getting older is a drag!!!!

Igor! soul mate! I have been waking up on my own for decades, and --if I happen to share this information-- I am usually greeted with disbelief or dismissal. I get tired and go to bed. I sleep enough and wake up...

of course, now that I am older I wake up a lot...but usually can go right back to sleep...until that morning wake up call. Part of it is habit, I'm sure. I have one of those 9 to 6 jobs where I always have to be there at the same time.

You'd think that sitting at a desk, typing all day, running reports, answering the phone, would be more restful than say packing bottles into boxes...but the need to respond, to react and to be "on top" of so many projects and information flows make it a tense and draining day. I do stop during the day for breaks to stretch and breathe...but there's no real rest.

I got really tired earlier this month, and so I arranged to take 3 days of vacation just to sleep and rest. Even though I slept most days until 3 pm, I still got my full rest at night as well. It was helpful, although I'd like to do it again already!

IBS and IBD, I find my digestion works better when I can take a few minutes or even better a few hours to actually rest during the day or after meals, instead of rushing back to work. Gotta punch that clock!

Weight loss!!!Now days, it is the sentence running around in the minds of millions of people who want to build a body of their dreams. For that an effective weight loss program is essential and needed. Everyone in this world wants to have a good and better body structure.


quick weight lose

if you are tired, how about a short nap every day

I used to sleep really poorly and that is when my weight really went up. At that time I was also newly diagnosed with Hypothyroidism, overay failure and adrenal exhaustion I was only 37 at the time and entering menapause. After working at changing what I ate and my excersize routine over the last year and stable on my meds I now sleep like a baby at night. I try to go to be at the same time even on the weekends and wake up at the same time without an alarm if possible. I am much better at resting and I finally feel human again. I am now trying to lose that weight I gained during the years when I felt so crappy. Sleep is a powerful thing. Once you get a pattern down you can deviate from it if you have plans but, if you are tired go to sleep or take a nap. Nothing wrong with a cat nap at lunch or a leisurely walk. Both are calming and engergizing afterward.

Ahhh, if only I could sleep more hours!! I sleep well for about 6 hours. Any more than that woud be a bonus.I have no timeclock, and no reason to get up but my body just won't let me sleep any longer!! I try laying in bed but after an hour I get up.  I ususally know within 5 minutes that sleep is not going to come, but come around 2-3 in the afternoon, and I'm exhausted!  if I nap, then I can't get to sleep until 2-3 in the morning!

Interesting article! Thanks for posting this. Normally, I don't sleep more than 4-5 hours a day.....

Comment Removed

I get back to sleep, it's time to get up and I do get up on my own, I havent used an alarm clock in years. I don't know what gives. Thank goodness for naps.

I'm confused, half my comment was removed before I even posted it. SMH huh?

The link does not work ("this article"):

Metabolism is a complex subject and I don’t want to oversimplify it with a few brief points. I heartily recommend this article for a more thorough discussion on hormones

Well I,m the laziest 63 YO around so I guess that wont apply to me.

Post Your Comment

Join Calorie Count - It's Easy and Free!