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Will The Real Me, Please Stand Up!

Will The Real Me, Please Stand Up!

“When you do not seek or need approval, you are at your most powerful.” – Carolyn Myss

Have you ever felt like you are standing on the outside of life looking in on everyone else who seems to be happy and have it all together? Are you perpetually the chameleon changing your colors depending on who you are with? Do you just want to be a part of the group, rather than the one standing on the fringes?

If so, then welcome! I have felt like I’ve been on the outside looking in for most of my life. I perpetually felt like the little girl with her nose pressed up against the glass wanting what she could not have…to belong.

I just wanted to be accepted and I wanted to connect. Is that such a bad thing? Of course not.

Doesn’t everyone want to feel like they fit in and are liked and accepted? Maybe.

So, not knowing how to deal with those feelings, I did what most people do to fit in. I followed the pack. I drank too much, in a feeble attempt at feeling more comfortable. I do not know for sure if I fit in any better, but I do know that I cared less.

I cursed and acted cool. I still curse, but it is less about being cool. I feigned interest in conversations I found uninteresting and trivial, dying silently behind my smile. I talked about the things that people seem to want to talk about, denying my own voice. I rarely disagreed with others, keeping my thoughts and opinions to myself, instead nodding approvingly.

And I hated it.

I sometimes tried to bring up topics that did interest me…spirituality, the suffering in the world, the age-old question “what is life about?” That usually got me a deer in the headlights look or the disapproval I was trying so hard to avoid. Not exactly the typical party conversation.

So, I kept trying to figure out how to be…more like “them”.

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I am sure this will not be a surprise to you, but I was not happy.

Why, you ask?!

Because I was trying to be something and someone I am not. I was making the approval of others the priority in my life. I was allowing someone else to determine my value.

What Is Your Soul Purpose?

What exactly makes someone else’s opinion more important than mine? What makes the approval of anyone, the appropriate barometer for my personhood?

Now, I understand why fitting in was important. As a child, I never felt like I did, so I was always attempting to adapt to my surroundings in order to minimize feelings of rejection. I needed to be compassionate with myself as I began to understand why I felt the way I did. I needed to take long, kind and frequent looks at myself to heal what had been broken.

We are each unique individuals, who I believe, are here on this earth for some particular reason and purpose. I cannot possibly know what that is for anyone else. It isn’t even my business, unless they choose to tell me. And honestly, I wish they would. That is the kind of conversation I can wrap my brain around.

Nonetheless, what is my business is to discover what my reason and purpose is. But before I do that I have to let go of the idea that “fitting in” is more important than being who I am.

How is that for a soul mission?

To be fully who I am…without worrying whether I fit in, am approved of or accepted.

If we all did that, fitting in would become irrelevant.

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I already belong…we all do.

No matter race, religion, gender, country, disability or any other differentiating factor you can conjure up to explain your separateness, we are all a part of the human race and so, necessary to our wholeness.

Knowing that, of course, is the hard work. Who am I underneath my need for approval or acceptance?

What Happens When You No Longer Need The Approval Of Anyone Else…

What happens when you no longer need the approval of anyone else…when fitting in no longer matters?

Well, let me tell you, because this is good stuff.

I have discovered that the more I approve of myself, the less I care what others think. The more I love and accept myself…all of me…especially the not so pretty parts, the better I feel. The less I judge myself, the less I am concerned with the judgments of others.

What I also discovered was that the things I assumed others were judging me on, were the very things with which I was judging myself. The things I wanted approval from others about, were the things I was withholding approval from myself. I also recognized that I wanted others to love me, so I would feel better about myself, all the while avoiding finding out what it meant to love myself.

In other words, my happiness was dependent on the approval, acceptance and love of others. I needed it to validate my existence.

That was a pretty powerless place to be. It is so much more empowering to be responsible for my own happiness. It is so much more empowering to not have my self-worth be dependent on someone else.

When I began to accept and love myself, valuing myself was a natural outcome. When I began to value myself, I expected people to treat me better, knowing where and when to draw lines when others overstepped them. I also began to recognize I had something to say worth listening to, even if the people around me didn’t want to hear it.

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Yes, go figure, I realized I had something to offer the suffering world. In this process, I found my own voice and I discovered fulfilling ways to use it. I was no longer so afraid to speak up, even when someone disapproved.

I no longer hung my head in shame, which I am sure is right up there with one of the worst feelings we experience in life.

Although I needed help to make these discoveries about myself, I realized it was my own approval and acceptance that I always needed. Truthfully, what someone else thinks about me, whether they like me or not, approve of me or not, is none of my business. That is their problem, not mine.

As Carolyn Myss says, “When you do not seek or need approval, you are at your most powerful.”

That is because we are well on our way to being our truest self. There is so much power in that! Our truest self is not going to be ruled by an insecure ego.

The true self is never threatened by others or has any need to compare itself to anyone other than its highest self. It is then that we can emerge to fully be whoever we are called to be. It is then that we have the greatest impact on the world.

Whether a mentally or physically disabled person, a Mother or Father, a trash collector or accountant, an athlete or a homeless person, if we are fully being who we are called to be, then we will have the impact on the world that we are intended to have. We will also be at peace.

So, who is this True Self? What does the real me look like?

The Real Me

It is the one who feels at peace when making a decision, despite the anxiety the ego might feel about the reaction or opinions of others. It is the one who gets excited at the possibilities, when the world tells you it’s impossible. It is the small voice inside that says, “yes, you can” even while another voice is telling you, ‘no, you can’t. It is the one that perseveres against the odds, knowing there is a way out, even when they can’t yet see it. It is the one who wants to bust out of all the restraints and rules, dogma and doctrine dumped on you by a fearful world.

If you think about it for just a minute, you might be able to remember a moment or two or three, when the True You showed up.

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It might have been during a tragedy when you found your way to higher ground. Maybe when you reached out in kindness to someone hurting. It likely showed up when your heart burst with love after looking at your newborn for the first time. How about when you finally valued yourself enough to ask for a raise or set a much-needed boundary with someone?

How about when you are “in the zone” playing some sport, or singing or playing an instrument or doing whatever it is that you do when you feel most at home in your skin.

You will know the True You because it is the best version of yourself. It is the moments you feel proud of yourself. You will feel its strength coursing through your veins or its peaceful demeanor when all is right with the world. It will show up when you feel an unexplained connection with another person or the Universe or nature.

The Truest You also knows you are never alone. It knows that all things are working out on your behalf, even while plodding around in the mud and the muck. It believes in your greatness, even when your mind can’t yet grasp the idea.

The world needs each of us to reach our potential, whether it’s a bucket full of potential or a thimble full. It is fullness either way. The bucket is not better than the thimble, just bigger.

The True Self recognizes the value of everyone they meet…and those they don’t. And it knows this because it knows its own value.

When you start approving of yourself, accepting yourself and loving yourself, the Real You will begin to emerge.

The True Self lives within your depths. Find it, be it, love it. It will love you back! It will never do you wrong. And, finally, you will always belong!

Featured photo credit: xvire1969 via imcreator.com

More by this author

Sandra Cooper

Psychotherapist

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Last Updated on November 15, 2019

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Wouldn’t you like to be able to eat twice as much as you do now without gaining weight? If so, I have good news for you because this is possible when you learn how to increase metabolism.

How Much Do You Know About Metabolism?

Before we get to the meat, let me say that metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.[1] These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning, however, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with the metabolic rate or the number of calories you burn.

The metabolic rate is a rough estimate of how much energy your body needs to simply stay alive and perform all its biochemical reactions. These reactions require energy, aka burn calories.

Imagine that your brain alone consumes nearly 20% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure at rest),[2] your digestion and the detoxifying system come second, repairing tissues third and so on.

Staying alive is expensive for your body and its two main currencies are fats and sugars.

When I am talking about improving your metabolic rate (metabolism), I mean improving the amount of energy, your body requires to (pretty much) lay down in bed and do nothing for 24 hours.

Extra physical activity, extra thinking or fighting illness are things that require a lot of energy (burn a lot of calories) but they don’t really increase metabolism… actually they can decrease it.

Can You Naturally Change the Speed of Your Basal Metabolism?

The answer to this question is yes and you can also achieve an increase in metabolism and a drop in body fat by eating more.

Shocked? Well, I was too.

The way I came across this phenomenon is quite funny. Over my 10 years as a coach, I helped many busy professionals to naturally increase their metabolism by getting them leaner, fitter and stronger but, at the beginning of my career, I actually had no idea whether they were losing weight because of an increase in metabolism or because we created a calorie deficit with diet and exercise.

When I was training my clients regularly, they would lose weight. Every time I would take a few weeks of vacation, I would come back to London and find out that most of them gained back a generous amount of weight despite the fact that they were following their diet and they swapped our weight training sessions with cardio.

On the contrary, when they were going on vacation, they would do zero exercises and binge like there was no tomorrow but come back either lighter or weighing the same (but looking more muscular).

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Observing this phenomenon happening over and over again, got me curious about the mechanics of our metabolism and the ways to hack it.

Was it really possible that by relaxing and eating more food, someone could actually maintain his/her current weight or even be losing fat?

Driven by the desire to answer this question, I spent a good amount of years researching and testing different food strategies until I finally cracked the code to an improved metabolism that allows you to eat like a king and look like a Greek God.

Does Eating More Increase Metabolism?

Before I explain why eating more increases your metabolism, let me dig into something that I see people doing much more often: “eating less and moving more.”

It is quite common to see people embarking their yearly weight loss journey (usually after Christmas or Easter) by following very restrictive diets and bombarding their body with several hours of exercise per day.

Despite the short-term effectiveness of this approach, in the long run, if the goal is to increase metabolism and lose a lot of fat over an extended period of time, this simply won’t work.

As I have mentioned before, eating fewer calories and exercising more are energy-consuming activities for your body. In the first case, your body needs to use its own energy reserves to top up the missing energy it needs to fully function; and in the second, it takes your body extra energy to contract your muscles.

In both cases, your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure at rest) doesn’t vary much; therefore your metabolism stays unchanged.[3]

A different scenario happens when you eat less and move more for an extended period of time (weeks or months). In that case, your metabolism will slow down because your body is receiving a “we have little access to food and we need to run away from threats” signal.

Your metabolism is like your bank account.

To understand this concept, let’s imagine that you have $4,000 coming into your bank account each and every month. The money you spend on housing, transport, food and leisure are calibrated according to this monthly income.

Now, imagine that a rich uncle starts to send you $1,000 each day. What would you do? Probably, you would save that money for the first two or three days but, when you notice that $1,000 keep on coming every single day, you would likely start to spend more right?

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What if, instead of a rich uncle sending you money, a poor uncle needed your financial help to pay for the treatments of his illness? You would probably try your best to adjust your spending according to your old $4,000 monthly budget.

That’s exactly how your body reasons:

More Resources Coming in = More Energy Released (Improved Metabolism)

Fewer Resources Coming in = Less Energy Released (Decreased Metabolism)

Note that activities like weight training[4] and high-intensity interval training (HIIT),[5] when combined with an increase in nutrient-rich foods, will also improve your metabolism.

For this reason, today, when I coach a new client, I always start by increasing their daily food intake and their physical activities. Usually, people are quite confused because they come to me to lose weight and I tell them to eat more but, without fail, the next weekly weight-check shows a lower number.

Be aware that not all foods are equal and only certain foods have the power to increase metabolism to a noticeable extent.

Foods That Increase Metabolism

Doubling up on Snickers bars won’t improve your metabolism and you know that. What you may not know is that certain foods that are marked as “healthy” doesn’t help you with increasing your metabolism. They also make you gain weight.

Before giving you a list of foods to eat or avoid, let me explain a simple principle of human biochemistry.

Your body uses energy from three (or four) main sources:

  • Sugars: whether you eat a Snickers bar or a banana, the carbohydrates contained in both get absorbed in the gut and become blood glucose (the basic form of sugar our body utilizes as a source of energy).[6]
    When blood glucose is present in the bloodstream (elevated levels), the body always uses it as its primary source of energy. When blood glucose levels drop (this phenomenon happens when you’re using these sugars to fuel a physical activity or when your pancreas produced a spike of insulin and stores that glucose into fat and muscles), your body starts to release fatty acids into the bloodstream to use as a source of energy.
  • Fatty acids: either from your own fat cells (adipocytes) or from whatever fat-containing foods you ate in the past 2-3 hours. Fatty acids are a slower and more consistent form of energy than sugars that your body can utilise.
  • Amino acids: Amino acids are the broken-down form of proteins. Proteins cannot be used by the body as a source of energy, not even in their broken-down form. Your body can transform amino acids into glucose with a process called gluconeogenesis.[7] This is a very inefficient process where a decent amount of energy gets wasted (and that’s a good thing for us but I’ll get to that later).
  • Ketones: when you don’t feed your body any source of carbs (or proteins in excess), your liver produces an alternative source of energy called Ketones. It can replace the need for glucose (most of it at least).[8]

Now that you know the four energy sources the body can use to fuel its metabolism, let’s get to the meat (quite literally).

To make this simple for you, I am going to divide foods into three categories:

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  1. Red Flags – Avoid the red foods because they slow your metabolism. They are usually extremely low in micronutrients and high in antinutrients (agents that are highly toxic). They are highly processed or spike your insulin levels (therefore stopping your fat burning process).
  2. Orange Foods – Limit your consumption of orange foods. The orange foods on the list are suboptimal choices but they don’t have a negative impact on your metabolism when consumed in moderation. In fact, they contain a decent amount of micronutrients and, if eaten in small amounts, they shouldn’t stop your fat burning process.
  3. Green Foods – These are foods to consume most. Green foods will improve your metabolism and should be the main bulk of your diet.

Next, I’ll get into details exactly what foods to eat and avoid:

Sugars and Carbs

Sugars do not directly improve metabolism because they stop the process of fat utilisation. There is an exception to this rule though. When you eat a diet extremely low in carbohydrates and sugars for an extended period of time (two to six days onwards), introducing carbohydrates and sugars can actually improve metabolism quite a bit.

Unfortunately, for most of us that love eating bread, pasta, fruit and yoghurt, unless we were on a low-carb diet for the past few days, these foods are not an optimal choice.

Sugars like fructose (found in fruit or commercial sugar) actually decrease metabolism and should be limited. Heavily processed sugars and carbohydrates should be also limited. Here is the colour list of sugars and carbs that affect metabolism:

Red Flag Sugary Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Dried fruit
  • Commercial and packaged corn
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • All sorts of candies and lookalike
  • Packaged fruit juices and purees
  • Sugary dairy products like flavoured yoghurt, condensed milk etc
Orange Sugary Foods You Should Limit:
  • Bread and flour-based products
  • Milk and also vegan milk alternatives that are sweetened
  • Most fruit (exceptions are in the green list below)
  • Potatoes and potato starch products
  • Oatmeals and other grains
Green Sugary and Carb-Containing Foods That Improve Metabolism
  • All berries except strawberries
  • Tubers like squash, carrots, parsnips etc
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White rice
  • All green vegetables

Fats

Fatty acids and fats, in general, can improve or decrease metabolism depending on their composition.

Red Flag Fatty Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Margarine and hydrogenated fat
  • Lard
  • Gmo oils
  • Most vegetable oils from seeds and peanut oil
Orange Fatty Foods You Should Limit:
  • Nuts
  • Meat fat
  • Nut oils (macadamia, almond, cashew etc..)
  • Seeds
Green Fatty Foods You Should Eat Daily
  • Extra virgin olive oil (non-heated)
  • Avocado
  • Coconut oil
  • Butter (organic)
  • Egg yolks (free-range)
  • Bone marrow

The fatty foods in the green section tend to be very effective in increasing metabolism, especially in the absence of carbohydrates because they stimulate the production of ketones (I’ll talk about this later).

Bear in mind that 1 gram of fat has 2.5 times the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrates; therefore “eating more fats” to increase metabolism should be done very gradually to avoid weight gain.

Proteins

Eating food not only sends regulatory signals to your brain about abundance vs scarcity of resources, but it can also increase your metabolism for a few hours. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).[9] It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal.

Protein causes the largest rise in TEF.[10] It increases your metabolic rate by 15-30%, compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats

Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating, in fact, a study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet.[11]

Also, proteins help preserve muscle mass.[12] The more muscle mass we have, the higher our basal metabolism is.

For these reasons, the first nutritional advice I usually give to clients is to reduce sugars and increase proteins. This quick swap is often enough to kickstart their metabolism and commence the fat burning process.

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Red Protein Sources That Should Be Avoided
  • Cheap whey proteins
  • Soy proteins
  • GMO meat
  • GMO eggs
  • Packaged meat
Orange Protein Source to Be Limited
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned fish
  • Canned meat
  • Gluten-rich products like Seitan
  • Farmed fish
Green Protein Sources to Have Daily
  • Free-range meat
  • Free-range eggs
  • Wild meat and fish
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Collagen and beef protein hydrolyzed

Note that this is a general categorisation of the foods that, when added to your diet, have the power to increase or decrease metabolism. There are some specific foods and supplements worth mentioning because they have been proven to improve metabolism by increasing thyroid output or resting heart rate, they are as follows.

Other Foods and Supplements

Cold water

Drinking water may temporarily speed up your metabolism. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 litres) of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour.[13]

This is not a surprise since our body is made up mainly by water and proper hydration is key to a fast metabolism. This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.

MCT Oils or Powders

Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT have been shown to improve metabolism by stimulating Ketone production.[14] Coconut oil contains MCT fats and, when used as a replacement for cooking oil can help you improve metabolism.

You can buy the concentrated version of MCT oils and eat it separately to further enhance this effect. Either way, coconut oil or pure MCT oil can be a great addition to your diet if you’re following a ketogenic or intermittent fasting protocol.

Caffeine

Caffeine and coffee have been shown to improve metabolism by improving heart rate and, therefore improving calorie consumption.[15]

Green Tea

Green tea

is thought to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and to reduce fat production and absorption.[16]

Bottom Line

In this article, I just covered the basics of food and metabolism but, there are many other non-food related things you can do to improve your metabolism, like improving your sleep quality and following certain exercise routines.

For now, just know that making small and gradual changes to your diet can increase your metabolism and improve your general health. Starting from changing one habit at a time is always the best strategy to accomplish any goal.

Once you improve your diet, your hydration and your supplementation you can think about testing more advanced “bio-hacks” or techniques like ice baths and fasted HIIT training.

And remember, having a higher metabolism doesn’t only help you lose weight and keep it off but it also give you more energy and a feeling of vibrancy. If you give it time, it really is worth the investment.

Featured photo credit: Fitsum Admasu via unsplash.com

Reference

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