Mary Tedesco's Metabolism Makeover

It's not a myth: You have the power to change your metabolism.

The rate of your metabolism depends on the interaction of the number of calories you consume and the number of calories burned while eating and exercising, explains Martha's personal trainer, Mary Tedesco. Kick-start your metabolism with her simple four-step plan.

Step 1: Gain Lean
Muscle Mass
Begin by calculating your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), the number of calories your body burns per day, not counting exercise, using a BMR Calculator. Once you know your daily caloric needs, create a calorie deficit through a combination of cutting back 250 calories and burning 250 calories through exercise each day.

For example, a 45-year-old woman who is 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighs 150 pounds would have a BMR of around 1,400 calories per day. She should cut her daily caloric intake to 1,150 and begin a daily exercise regimen that burns 250 calories.

Step 2: Alternate Cardiovascular and Conditioning Exercises
Use high-intensity intervals of two minutes of moderate exercise and one minute of "give it your all for your new body" exercise. This way, you will burn more calories both while exercising as well as for up to 24 hours after exercising.

Unfortunately, burning calories becomes harder to do as we age, because our bodies have been programmed through evolution to try to conserve calories and fat. So move your body whenever you can: Take the stairs, play outside with your kids, park farther away from stores for the extra walk.

Remember, with each extra pound of muscle, you can burn up to 50 additional calories a day.

Mary's Conditioning Exercises
Side lunge with bicep curl and shoulder raise: works the inner thigh, glutes (butt), biceps, and shoulders.

Squat with bicep curl and front kick: works the glutes, biceps, and core muscles.

Side squat jumps with arm rows: works the quads, glutes, calves, and lats (upper back).

Plie with triceps extension: works the inner thighs, triceps, and core.

Step 3: Watch What -- and How Often -- You Eat
Try to eat low-calorie, high-fiber, high-protein, and nutrient-rich foods. (These Power-Food Recipes are good ones to try.) The more protein in your diet, the more calories you burn.

Eat every 2 to 3 hours. When you feed muscle and starve fat, you reassure your body that you are not going to go without food and you will always have food available to you. This helps you feel satiated and maintain an even blood sugar level, preventing food cravings.

The best way to know what you're eating is to make your own meals and bring healthy foods (like our Top Ten Snacks) with you to work.

Step 4: Get Good Sleep
Lack of sleep can decrease the number of calories your body burns. Allow yourself the time to rest: Your body and mind will both thank you for it.

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