I talked yesterday about what results I can expect from following a HAES lifestyle and if you read the post you’ll see weight loss didn’t make the list.
Does that mean this is it then? This is the weight I will be forever?
Well maybe, and then maybe not.
Linda Bacon in her book Health At Every Size discusses the concept of set point. The idea being that every person has a point, or actually more like a range within which their bodies will comfortably … expand and contract.
The set point is thought to be a range of around 10%. So if you weight 75 kilos then your set point range is within 7.5 kilos. If you weight 120 kilos then your range is within 12 kilos.
Life is never a nice, simple straight line. There are always ups and downs and it’s logical to think that our bodies reflect those up and downs since, well our body is us! If we’re stressed and having a difficult time its believable that we would eat a bit more or even hold onto a bit more than otherwise. Equally, if things are going well we exercise a bit more and relax, which allows our bodies to process food more effectively.
Set point is thought to be determined by a number of factors but most strongly genetics. The Big Fat Blog notes
The strongest factor seems to be genetic, as a number of studies have found. In fact, adoption and twin studies have determined that about 75% of us have the body size we do because of genetics. For that other 25%, a number of factors can mess with your set point, moving it either up or down. Disease is one of those factors. For instance, there exists a great deal of evidence suggesting diabetes causes individuals to get fat. Thyroid disease, Cushing’s Disease, PCOS and other diseases all cause weight gain. Medications can cause weight gain or loss. Depression can also cause the body to gain or lose weight. Stress can cause gain or loss. And, the kicker, DIETING can also mess with this homeostasis – increasing body weight the majority of the time.
I understand the theory and it makes sense, but I have questions.
For instance, if your weight is going up and down all the time what weight is your set point from which you measure up or down?
And if you hold a particular weight for a while does that mean your set point has altered?
And could it not alter down, as equally as it seems to alter up? OK, that one comes from my desire to actually have my fantasy of being thin, but it’s a valid question.
I found this nifty illustration of the changing set point that comes about with weight cycling, otherwise known as dieting.
But I have questions there as well.
Why is your set point weight at the top of the cycle?
Why is it not at the bottom of the cycle?
And then there are those people who don’t believe in set point at all.
As with all things health and weight it seems to be this big debate as to what is or isn’t fact. I confess, I believed wholeheartedly that it was my duty to diet and try to lose weight. I also believed it was simple, because you know, the thousands of times I’ve been told those facts, those facts that turned out to be misleading.
My attitude is this: HAES to me is about embracing yourself at whatever size and shape you are. This set point stuff is all well and good, and there may be room for change but that’s beside the point. I can only proceed with the facts that I have now.
I am the size I am.
I’m eating in ways that feel more natural and unrestricted. I’m focussing on eating foods that provide more nutrition.
I’m moving more and in ways that feel rewarding. I’m focussing on building strength, flexibility and stamina.
I am actively rejecting ideas, from internal and external sources, that do not support self acceptance and love of myself, just as I am, right now.
For right now that is just going to have to do.