If ever there was an appropriate time in life to focus on becoming taller and leaner, that tiny little gap between puberty and adulthood is it.
For girls, puberty hits between the ages of 10-14; for boys, the body typically shows signs around age 12. Puberty is not only the beginning of sexual maturity, but also the beginning of a continuously developing body. Emotions are running rampant. It can be a very confusing time for any adolescent.
Everyone goes through puberty at their own pace, as bodies are different. Our genes, as well as environmental factors, all play a huge role in our developing body. Some of us are genetically predisposed to a long, tall frame, while others must work a bit harder to achieve it.
As it turns out, there are ways to subtly increase our height, which have nothing to do with genetics.
Watch Your Posture
Your mother probably told you this a million times as a child – don’t slouch.
Slouching immediately removes inches off your height, creating the illusion of a smaller, more hunched frame. Bad posture leads to compression of the spine, in turn causing the spinal cord to grow in a curve. We must work to fix this curvature before beginning the most influential time in our body’s development.
For the first step, find a long mirror and turn sideways to assess your posture. Take note of the way your spine looks and feels. You should be able to draw an imaginary line from your earlobe to your hip, knee, and ankle. Rotate your shoulders backward, give the chest a slight puff, and keep your head held high.
If you already see a difference in your posture, that means its working. Continue to watch your posture throughout the day, but remember to relax your spine as well. Good posture leads to elongation of the spine, but you want to make sure you’re not putting too much pressure on your bones.
On that note, stretching the muscles also plays a vital role in increasing height after puberty.
For all you couch potatoes out there, you have to be more careful because muscles shorten, or get tight, when the body is inactive and immobile. Stretching elongates the fibers within your muscles, leading to increased flexibility and further elongation of the muscles if done consistently.
Fortunately, there are many different exercises you can do to achieve that long and lean ballet body. By adding yoga or Pilates to your everyday routine, you will encourage muscle flexibility, improve range of motion, and elongate the vertebrae. Keep in mind that overdoing it will only result in pulled muscles and micro-tears – not good. Be gentle with your body and expect results to come slowly and naturally.
Eat A Balanced Diet
Teenagers experience rapid growth during these years that calls for proper nutrition and increased need for essential nutrients. Girls between the ages of 9-14 should consume around 2,000 calories a day, whereas boys require around 2,500. Include a range of different food groups in each meal to ensure the body is receiving all of the essential vitamins and minerals.
Meals should contain healthy sources of lean protein, including chicken, fish, and beans, as well as calcium-fortified products such as juices, cereals, and dairy. During puberty especially, it is necessary to include calcium in the diet, as calcium is the building block for healthy bones. Nuts, spinach, chicken, and enriched whole grains supply the body with iron, which is essential for supplying energy and improving muscle mass. In order to increase iron absorption, one must make sure they are consuming their iron with Vitamin C rich foods.
The body requires different nutrients for each stage in life. During puberty, it is important to remember that the body is growing rapidly and needs fuel to sustain a well-functioning system and proper development. By eating a nutritious, balanced diet, you will be well on your way to achieving great heights – and we mean that quite literally!
Metabolism has long been a topic of conversation amongst weight-loss advocates – but what exactly is our metabolism?
Quite simply, our metabolism is responsible for keeping our body’s cells alive and functioning. Our metabolism converts food and fuel into energy; converts food and fuel into building blocks for proteins, lipids, nucleic acids, and carbohydrates; and eliminates nitrogenous waste. Our metabolism allows organisms to grow and reproduce, maintain their structures, and respond to their environments.
A high metabolism means our body is working hard to achieve these processes; a low metabolism means our body is struggling to perform its duties. During and after puberty, it is especially important to make sure our metabolism is alive and buzzing. How can our body grow if it is struggling to make ends meet?
Luckily, there are ways to encourage our body’s metabolic processes to increase. One easy way to ramp up your metabolism is to increase muscle by lifting weights. Make sure you are providing the body with fuel every few hours (or simply when you are hungry,) get some sleep, and get enough protein.
And now for the final step – sleeping. It is something all of us know and love. But did you know that when you sleep you body produces growth hormones?
There are five different stages of sleep, but its not until you reach stage five – the deepest REM stages of the sleep cycle – that these growth hormones occur. We typically enter REM about 90 minutes after falling asleep. This cycle is where our brains are the most active and we typically experience our most vivid dreams. During this time, our bodies also produce small amounts of growth hormones.
Adolescents should make sure they are getting at least eight hours of quality sleep each night in order to maximize potential for production of growth hormones.