Talking about and complaining about weight loss woes is common. Many women feel like they are working so hard towards their goals only to find their weight plateauing or experiencing unintentional weight gain. What if there were something else at play here and not just a question of willpower or hard work? Enter the set point weight theory.
Set point weight theory is described as the weight at which your body likes to be at to maintain homeostasis or function at its best. It means that body fat percentage and weight are internally controlled. As a result, ongoing attempts at dieting are often unsuccessful in promoting long term changes in weight and body shape.
Often times we associate a plateau in weight or weight gain as a failed diet. We tend to blame this slowing down of weight loss on our lack of willpower, our inability to stay the course or on the need to work harder in order to achieve our goals. In reality our body is trying to tell us something else.
The body has a weight that it likes to be at and will strive to maintain even during times of restriction and dieting. The body cannot tell the difference between dieting and starvation and as a result will treat a situation with restricted calorie intake like starvation. That means the body will slow down metabolism in order to conserve energy.
Weight loss and slowing metabolism:
When our metabolism starts to slow down, we start to see weight loss slow down or halt and possibly even start to gain weight back again. Everyone has their own set point, it is individual to you and only your body knows where that point is…where it feels and works at its best.
The weight at which your body wants to be at is not an exact number and can fluctuate within a range of 10 – 20 pounds. So rather than striving for that perfect number that you have arbitrarily set as a goal for yourself, work towards healthy eating and exercise habits as well as accepting your body shape and size. When we continually strive for a weight that is under our set point, we run the risk of slowing down our metabolism leading to weight gain which inevitably results in yo-yo dieting.
Ways to know you are your set point weight:
- You are more likely to have a regular menstrual cycle
- You are not restricting what you eat
- You are eating enough to support your daily activities and have energy to get through the day
- Weight is fairly stable over a long period of time
- You tend to be in a good mood more often
- You don’t feel famished all the time
How do you achieve your set point and avoid restrictive dieting?
Letting go of diets with restrictive rules will help you to understand and know your set point. Such restrictive diet rules will likely include the elimination of whole food groups and calorie counting.
Healthy ideas to consider before weight loss focus:
- Honor your body’s hunger and fullness cues.
- Accept that everyone has a different body size and shape. That is what makes you unique!
- Free yourself from food rules and allow your body to trust when you are hungry and when you are full.
- Eat to nourish your body, not punish it.
- Focus on your body’s strengths and all the things your strong body allows you to do in a day.
Have you heard of intuitive eating?
To help free yourself from the pressures of the latest fad diet, consider eating intuitively. Intuitive eating means that you are listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues. These cues will guide eating rather than focus on specific amounts of calories, fat and other nutrients. Be sure to check out these dietitians who focus their practice on the concept of intuitive eating.
If you are someone who has spent a majority of your adult life trying to lose weight, the idea of set point weight theory may be both frustrating and freeing at the same time. Realize that it may take time to adjust and get beyond the dieting phase. It will happen as long as you change your thoughts and maintain your focus on the thoughts shared above.
Here is a delicious, quick and easy recipe to nourish your body. Be sure to grab some fresh flowers while you’re out and make your surroundings beautiful while you enjoy!
Leek Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 medium leeks white part diced, and most of green part
- 1 medium sweet potato peeled and diced
- 1 small butternut squash diced
- 6 cups water chicken or vegetable broth may be used
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, plain
- 4 tablespoons chives chopped
- Heat olive oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add onion and leek; sauté for 4-5 minutes until softened.
- Add sweet potato and squash; sauté for 5-8 minutes. Add liquid and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 35-40 minutes.
- When potato and squash are tender and can be mashed with a fork, remove from heat.
- Using an immersion blender or regular standing blender, puree soup in batches. Reheating may be necessary.
- Top each serving with yogurt and chopped chives. May be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to a month.