This course will become read-only in the near future. Tell us at if that is a problem.

How does your life affect your metabolism?

As a start to get us all sharing I'd like everyone to come up with examples of ways their life and lifestyle has affected or continues to affect their metabolism. This is a beginner level course so I'm just looking for simple examples to get you thinking about what you do and how it affects your life and metabolism.

What do you spend most of your time doing? working, resting or playing? You can keep it as simple as that. It's about how it feels. So, stuff that feels like work is work, if it's restful it's rest, if its playful it's play.

A spent 10 years of my life where work dominated. I'd say the breakdown was work 65%, rest 25% and play 10%. I can't say it added as much to my life and health as it should have. I'm trying now to balance my life by balancing work, rest and play. 


So how would you categorise your lifestyle? 10% work, 50% play and 40% rest -)





If you want you can give an example of how your lifestyle has impacted your life. Simple examples can be;

  • your job. All the managers I know eat on the run and have to be ready for action all the time. I've chosen a non managerial role for this reason. No lunch meetings.
  • I find that when I don't sleep well I like healthier foods less. I'm more attracted to comfort foods. So fixing my sleeping issues helps improve the food I eat and balance my energy intake. 


What examples can you think of?


Task Discussion

  • jennymgray   June 28, 2011, 10:42 a.m.

    The tricky bit of working out my life balance is what to do with all the domestic jobs.  They're not "work" in the sense of the 9-5 paid job, but they're definitely neither rest nor play.

    They're a very different kind of work though.  Lugging laundry about the house, pushing the hoover, carrying shopping have a different physical effect than sitting at a computer typing. It must have a different effect on my metabolism, but I can't say I've really noticed.  I eat more at the weekend though!!

    I too comfort eat when stressed, and drink more alcohol. 


    One of the reasons I'm really interested in this line of thought is because my family are blessed with being skinny and we've always said its our metabolism. 

  • Colin Chambers   June 29, 2011, 5:29 a.m.
    In Reply To:   jennymgray   June 28, 2011, 10:42 a.m.

    These are the kinds of subtle things that can add up. We all know that the calories you eat add up but when we focus on calories we miss the bigger picture. What I've found is that how you react to situations, particularly your minset, has a massive impact on whether you put on weight, lose it or stay the same. 

    Lugging laundry around can feel like work because it's not fine or takes you away from what you like. The food you eat may be exciting or dull. You may work so hard that you're too tired to enjoy the play time you have. You may not rest enough so you're tired during work and play. 

    Any of these things can make you choose one activity over another. After a long hard day at work and then an hour or two sorting the kids, cooking dinner and doing the washing up what would you rather do. go for a walk or catch up on some telly?

    This is where I've been with my work, rest and play. When I put on weight I'm too tired and grumpy to be active or cook a decent meal. I choose the easy options. I've spent a long time finding lots of little ways to make work feel more fun because work never feels as hard when you're enjoying yourself and I've been combining things. Wimbledon is on right now. So I am listening to wimbledon radio while doing a little cooking and cleaning. I've found simple practical foods that easily build a meal but because I'm listening to wimbledon at the time I'm not missing out and I use the time to relax. So I get to work rest and play at the same time. The work is preparing a meal and cleaning, the rest is a break from the pressures of work and the disctraction of wimbledon, the play is eating much nicer food than prepackaged stuff and listening to wimbledon. 

    I haven't got things perfect yet. I probably never will but I'm finding that little adjustments over time for the rest of my life are really making the difference. The direction is on balancing these key factors of work rest and play and realising that the experience of an activity defines whether it's balanced. the same work can feel very different depending on how you go about it. But it can have a big impact on how well you sleep and your energy and motivation levels. This can then determine the foods you eat and exercise you ultimately get. this then determines you put on , maintain or lose weight. 

    This way of thinking just makes the whole process easier for me and I think it might help others. 


    Does this make sense and fit with what you know?


  • jennymgray   July 1, 2011, 11:51 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Colin Chambers   June 29, 2011, 5:29 a.m.

    Yes I guess it does.  Certainly ironing is less like work if its done in front of the telly, and hoovering done with the music up loud!  Not sure what that's doing to my metabolism though?

    The other thought this sparked in me was remembering a quote from god knows who... "happiness is a method of travel, not a destination".  I think what you're suggesting is to find ways to add happiness (play) to your day.

  • Tim Hunt   June 22, 2011, 6:40 p.m.

    I definitely recognise the thing that Colin says about being more tempted by unhealthy foods when short of sleep, or when I have not had much exercise recently. I think the sugar rush can overcome the feeling of lethargy, but only very briefly and unsatisfactorily.

    I think glycaemic index (GI) makes a big difference. I went through last winter eating porridge for breakfast, and at the moment I am eating muesli, and that makes it easier to survive until lunch time. Mind you, I made the mistake of reading the muesli packet, and was shocked to discover how much sugar there was in there. Perhaps the GI is not as low as I think.

  • Maria Droujkova   June 14, 2011, 7:38 a.m.

    Lifestyle change: 30-second exercise of a particular kind

    Metabolic change: drinking significantly more water

    This is a tiny example, but it's puzzling me so I am posting. Usually I drink very little compared to people around me. About a week ago, I started to learn a new parkour move, monkey vault ( It's taking me forever, and I am nowhere near ready to jump a fence yet. I try a few things, for maybe 30 seconds to 1 minute at a time, in my yard - in-between sitting and writing, which is how I spend most of my waking hours. I noticed that I feel a pretty strong thirst after these 3-4 jumps. My heart rate goes up a bit, but I don't break sweat. My usual indoor weight-lifting or sit-up exercise breaks don't cause me to be thirsty.  Why is that?

  • Colin Chambers   June 15, 2011, 4:57 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Maria Droujkova   June 14, 2011, 7:38 a.m.

    Cool start Maria. Thanks.

    I'm going to draw on my sports science training for this. I'm not saying my explanation is correct but it fits what you're telling me and the way the body works. 

    The monkey vault move is a whole body exercise and quite an intense one at that. This means it's going to spring your body into action. Your body will quickly get ready for more intense bouts like this. Your body now needs to mobilise water for the muscles and to get the extra blood it needs taround the body. That kind of stuff. So water is quickly redistributed around the body. 


    Feeling thirsty is natural when your fight or flight response is triggered. Not drinking much might exaggerate this. You aren't sweating because it takes a few minutes for sweating to start and you may not build up enough heat anyway. 



    Weight training rarely uses all the muscle groups like this so it doesn't challenge the systems in the same way. Only squats really do this. Unless you're using a lot of weight or going very fast it won't stress you're body so much in such a short time frame.


    Ok, that's a long explanation but it's how I'd explain it. does that make sense and help? Anyone else have an explanation?


  • Maria Droujkova   June 15, 2011, 6:45 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Colin Chambers   June 15, 2011, 4:57 a.m.

    Ahhh, this makes a lot of sense. "Whole body response" is why these moves FEEL like so much fun for me. It is a qualitatively different feeling from simple exercises like repetitive weight lifting. I am bad at it, so every little thing calls for a lot of brain power, too. I can't jump and talk at the same time, for example. It's also scary, so yeah, flight or fight.

    This is a separate episode of my noob parkour adventures I just wanted to write down. I am not sure yet how it relates :-)

    When I tried the monkey vault for the first time, I stood in front of old tires I stacked for the purpose. I tried them for stability, stretched a bit, and jumped. Instantly, I found myself flat on my face, without any idea whatsoever of how I got there. I did not get hurt other than minor scratches. I lay on the grass for a while, feeling rather helpless cognitively. I did not know what I did wrong. I did not know what steps to take to even start figuring out what I did wrong! I thought my dog, who came over to observe, was laughing at me. I laughed too.

    This was a luxurous feeling because it was so new. I've been analyzing learning for as long as I can remember, for the last 20 years professionally. And I don't even remember when I felt that total lack of learning opportunities, steps, ideas - the total pedagogical vacuum, experienced very directly through the whole body.

    This is how many students must feel about mathematics.

  • Colin Chambers   June 15, 2011, 9:32 a.m.
    In Reply To:   Maria Droujkova   June 15, 2011, 6:45 a.m.

    lol. Been there so many times. I like the analogy to newbies to maths. I think it's the same for the body. Being good at one sport or activity generally helps in some way with another. So sporty people pick up new sports easily because they've already developed strengths in some areas like endurance or eyesight. 

    I found that with school and maths. I love science, rockets, formula 1 and stuff like that. I learnt bits of maths through that which helped me in the classroom.