What is Metabolism? And Why You Should Care.

By Ryan Juel, Certified Personal Trainer

People are constantly talking about boosting their metabolism. What foods should be eaten and when for a higher metabolism; how you should drink water first thing in the morning to jumpstart your metabolism. The word gets thrown around constantly, but what are we actually talking about? What is the process that happens in our bodies? That’s exactly what I’m going to explore today.

An Overview

In short, metabolism is the chemical process inside a living organism in order to maintain life. Energy is essential in maintaining all process within the body. These processes include:

  • Chemical
  • Biological
  • Mechanical
  • Temperature regulation.

The breakdown of nutrients yields a high-energy compound called adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that provides energy to the body and therefore life is maintained. However, metabolism isn’t just about breaking down nutrients. The process of metabolism is divided into two categories, catabolism and anabolism. Catabolism is the breakdown of molecules to obtain energy while anabolism is the synthesis of compounds needed by the cells. Because our main goal is to understand how the nutrients we eat provide energy to our bodies, specifically to do mechanical work, I’ll focus on catabolism. However, be aware that there is another side to metabolism. Catabolism can be broken down into three general categories:

  • Fermentation
  • Aerobic (with oxygen)
  • Anaerobic (without oxygen).

Again, I’ll narrow this down and for our purposes, aerobic and anaerobic metabolism will be the focus.

In the process of preforming mechanical work, energy demands increase substantially. There is only enough ATP stored in muscles to provide approximately 4 seconds of a strength or power exercise such as a golf swing. Therefore, ATP must be readily synthesized to maintain the energy requirements of exercise. This energy production relies on the respiratory and cardiovascular systems, which provide oxygen and nutrients (from foods we consume) as well as remove waste products to maintain a cellular equilibrium. ATP releases energy when the enzyme ATPase catalyzes the hydrolysis of ATP to ADP (adenosine diphosphate), phosphate, and energy (produced in the breaking of the phosphate bond). This breaking of the phosphate bond helps facilitate skeletal muscle contraction (I’ll talk about the physiological steps involved in muscle contraction in the future). Now I’ll break it down a little bit further into the three main energy pathways.

Anaerobic Processes (without oxygen)

There are two anaerobic metabolic processes the phosphagen pathway and glycolysis. In the phophagen pathway, creatine phosphate (CP), which is stored in skeletal muscle, transfers its phosphate to ADP to create ATP with the assistance of a creatine kinase enzyme. Because this reaction is only one step it happens rapidly but it is short lived, as there is only a finite amount of CP stored in cells. Creatine most be rephosphorylated using ATP in the mitochondria of the cell before more energy can be provided to the muscle. Depending on the level of CP depletion in the muscle it can take 1-2 minutes for creatine to be rephosphorylated. The CP that is stored in the muscle provides approximately 5-10 seconds of sustained power exercise such as sprinting.

Glycolysis provides approximately 1.5 minutes of endurance exercises like a short dash or swimming a lap. Glycolysis is the breakdown of carbohydrate molecules (glycogen or glucose) and produces ATP rapidly. This process requires a series of steps catalyzed by enzymes just as the other processes described. Glycolysis produces ATP as well as pyruvate or lactate. Although glycolysis is an anaerobic process if there is sufficient oxygen quantities in the cell pyruvate can participate in the aerobic production of ATP as well. Lactate can also be resynthesized for ATP production however it accumulates in the muscle faster than it can be removed during exercise, which contributes to fatigue. As oxygen becomes available during rest lactate is oxidized and used for ATP production.

Aerobic Processes (with oxygen)

Aerobic production of ATP involves two very complex metabolic processes, the Krebs cycle and the electron transport chain (ETC). This process occurs within the mitochondria of the cell. This process can use fat, protein, and carbohydrates to produce ATP. I won’t go into the details of this complex process but it is important to know that aerobic metabolism requires steady concentrations of oxygen and allows the muscle to sustain high rates of ATP production for muscular energy over long periods of sustained endurance exercises. For aerobic exercise, carbohydrates and fat are the main sources of fuel although protein can be used as well. Usually, carbohydrates are used first and as the duration of the exercise increases there is a gradual shift to the use of fats as fuel.

Why you should care…

For these processes to work properly and allow us to do our best in any task, we have to provide our bodies with the right nutrients. If the body is not fed properly to support the energy demands of mechanical work our speed, agility, strength, balance, or any other aspect of desired performance will suffer.

So how do we fuel our bodies in order to meet our physical goals? What effects do proteins, carbohydrates, and fats have on our bodies in order to help us preform better? I’ll delve into these specifics over the next few weeks. 

A (Very) Quick Review

  • Food is metabolized to ATP.
  • ATP goes through hydrolysis to break the phosphate bond and produce energy.
  • The energy is used to contract muscles.
  • ATP must be continually synthesized to provide energy to our muscles during work, this is accomplished either anaerobically or aerobically.


Metabolism. 2015. In Merriam-Webster.com.

Retrieved March 20, 2015, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/metabolism

Acsm’s Resources for the Personal Trainer, 4th Ed. Wolters Kluwer Health, 2014. Print.


How to Use the Power of Intention to Crush Procrastination and Transform Your Life

By Tamatha Bechtel,  Certified Professional Life Coach, Certified Personal Trainer

I know I’m not alone in suffering from Analysis Paralysis. “Analysis paralysis” is the condition of thinking about something for so long that it never gets done. It’s one of the common themes in my life coaching practice where I’m helping over-busy women create balance in their lives.

This phenomena stems from 4 basic roots and 3 of the 4 are actually positive traits:

  1. Loving research
  2. Wanting to do it right or not do it at all
  3. Lacking confidence
  4. A creative mind that is always looking for improvement

And what’s the end result of this?  That loathsome “p” word:  procrastination!

Just because I’m a life coach doesn’t mean I don’t get hung up on this.  But it does mean I can’t settle for it.

if not now when

So I decided to put “have a good idea and act on it immediately” on my checklist of things I do every day, and I’m really getting a kick out of it.  The energy of a new idea is so invigorating and acting upon it is just plain fun!  In fact I might even go so far as to say it’s joyful.

Now, “have a good idea and act on it immediately” is an INTENTION, because it’s not what I usually do.

I intend to not just have good ideas that keep coming in a never-ending flow, not to just have good ideas and shelf them while they turn in to better ideas, not to just have good ideas and research the heck out of them to make sure that I’m sure that I’m sure that they are good ideas.  Nope.  I INTEND to have a good idea and act upon it immediately. 


I put this intention to have a good idea and act on it immediately on my daily checklist and two days later I woke up at 5 am and decided our fitness studio needed a blog to let people know that we are not just your average place to work out—that there is a depth and breadth of knowledge, passion, compassion and skills that you don’t find just anywhere.  I’m proud of Fit4Life Studio and the quality of instructors and members that we attract and I think it’s important that our little community of Sequim knows how much we want to share the mojo with them.  We are always looking for ways to add value to their lives and in return, we also are enriched.  I just love that!


So around 5:05 I sent a FB message to my awesome partners Pauline Geraci and Ryan Juel to ask them if they would be game to start a blog.  I spelled out how Pauline would focus her writing on her passion of Exercise as Medicine.  Ryan would focus on her passion for diet and nutrition as 85% of weight loss success.  And I would focus on my passion for acknowledging your whole person- body, mind and spirit- and using that to transform and balance your life.

By the time I was done teaching my 9:15 am body sculpting class, Ryan and Pauline were at the front desk figuring out some of the technical stuff about how to get a blog up and running, and I hadn’t even seen their “yes” response yet!  I couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear.

Then, much to my surprise, Pauline sends us a link at 2:55 pm saying “done” and giving us the link to her first blog post.

doneSo I immediately posted it to our Fit4Life Studio Members Facebook Group and voila!  We officially have a Fit4Life Studio blog.


Here’s another story about the power of intention that has been transformational.  One of my MELTDOWN clients was starting to decline in her physical vitality rather than grow and that was disconcerting to both of us.  We discovered that she had some body mechanics that were not quite right and causing her to overuse her quads.  Thus she was starting to feel the uncomfortable effects of overuse.

She decided to temporarily switch her focus from fat loss to body mechanics using personal training.

Good decision!personal trainer13

She stated the INTENTION to develop top notch body mechanics so she could continue with the high intensity interval training she loves without suffering an overuse injury.  We began doing just the opposite of high intensity.  We were very slow and very purposefully examining her posture and movement from all angles and fine tuning her body positioning as needed—a very tedious, patient, and loving process.

She held firm to her intention and started noticing her body mechanics at home, while driving, while chatting with me after her personal training session.

Two weeks later, we progressed from this super-attentive practice to doing one set with light weights, one set with heavier weights, and one set of a body weight cardio exercise that required the same body mechanics.

Now she is more comfortable than she has been in years.  She is also regaining energy and is able to continue on with her long term goal of fat loss, which was her intention a year ago.  She has had great success with that, too.

butterfly transformation

She has participated in MELTDOWN 4 times and has gone from the obese category to the acceptable category to the fitness category and she now has stated her intention to go for the athletic category.  She never dreamed she would learn that she loves high intensity interval training at the age of 63 when she’s never been an athlete and didn’t even like working out.  Her intention and the discovery around it has transformed her life for the better for once and for all!

Now THAT’S the POWER OF INTENTION, TWICE!  Once to intend to lose body fat and once to intend to be more comfortable doing it.

And what’s the ripple in the pond effect of this?  She has more energy and mobility to play with her grandchildren.  She has more strength and comfort to work in the garden with her husband.  She is an example for the gals in her Bible study.  In short, using the power of intention to transform her life is creating quality relationships, body, mind and spirit, with the people that matter most to her.butterfly7

I am a firm believer that the power of intention can be used by anybody to stop procrastinating and get on with life in any area that you struggle with.

Tamatha Bechtel is known as The Body Mind and Spirit Coach who helps over-busy women bring balance to their lives and have time for the things that matter most to them.  She uses the transforming power of life coaching in all the ways she passionately and purposefully helps people:  life coaching, fat loss mentoring, personal training, group fitness instructing, and developing business for Fit4Life Studio in Sequim, WA.  The common pursuit in all these endeavors is a joyful life with the freedom to be the uniquely wonderful person you were created to be.