SET POINT: The body weight set point theory is simple: it postulates that the body uses hormones, hunger, behavior changes, and other physiological mechanisms to “defend” a certain range of body weight ( and body fat).

I spent 10 years trying to bring my body weight below normal levels. I had this idea that I needed to weight 100lbs…

I left treatment in 2011, at a healthy body weight and from there put on some muscle mass and my weight has not fluctuated much since. (YAY!) I have found comfort in learning that if I feed my body appropriately and continue doing exactly what I am doing my body will not change. Through my personal experience I have been under my set point due to my eating disorder and I have also been over my set point while competing in CrossFit. Since I have stopped the heavy lifting my body has bounced back to its happy place.

The photo above is to show that I have experienced being both under and over my set point. I can personally say that I did not feel comfortable in my skin in either. Despite they way appearances may look I felt tired and irritable most of the time in both situation. In the photos below (taken four years apart) I learned that this is my set- point my bodies happy place. It feels good to know that no matter what I did to my body if was able bounce back.

 

Here is some wise words from Donna Ciliska R.N, Ph.D:

Several studies have shown that not only eating habits, but also genetics determine adult body size. For adults who do not consciously try to control their body size, weight is remarkably stable over time. These three factors together have led to the description of a “set point” – a reference point around which the body tries to keep a weight stable.

However, for those already at their set-point, but above “average” weight, a reducing diet attempts to get them below set-point, resulting in slower metabolism and quick regain on few calories, as the body attempts to keep the physically “normal”, but culturally “high” weight. Your set point, unlike your brain, does not care about current fashion. You may say that a weight of 70 kg is too high for how you would like to look, higher than the height/weight tables tell you to be and, indeed, higher than your family doctor tells you to be.

There is no test available to tell you what your body’s natural set point is. However, you can find your own set point, by listening to your body and eating normally and exercising moderately. If you have been dieting for years, it can take up to a year of normal eating for your body’s metabolism to function properly and return you to the weight range that is healthy for you.

Learning to accept the fact that your body needs to be at a certain weight is a good way to stop the vicious cycles of dieting. The more you try to go below your body’s set point range, the harder your body will fight to retain it’s natural weight. Engaging in a healthy eating and exercise routine, will allow your body to go to the weight it wants and needs to be at. Learning to love and accept who you are, will help you to accept your body’s natural set point. It is unfortunate that we live in a society that is obsessed with thinness, but we have to stop believing that thinness equals happiness. If we can all accept each other for who we are, no matter what size we are, people will be much happier, except, of course, for the diet industry, because they would be finally out of business!

 

If you are interested in learning more about set-points I invite you to watch this TED talk:

 

references from mirror mirror.org and Dr. Donna Ciliska