The term "set point weight" is a popular term among those in the intuitive eating space. But what the heck does it mean? This post will tell you what a set point weight is, why you should work to find yours and how to do it!
Set Point Weight Theory Overview
Essentially, a set point weight is the weight that our bodies want to be at in order to function optimally. Not too high, not too low, just right. Kinda like the Goldilocks of weight! This set point weight is determined by our bodies genetics, metabolism, energy intake, energy expenditure and other various factors. Weight loss/weight gain can also impact the body's set point weight due to metabolic adaptation.
At our set point weight we FEEL our best- mentally and physically. Our bodies are in balance. Our energy intake in naturally matches out, which makes for a stable weight without major fluctuation. A weight you can maintain effortlessly and feel amazing at. Sounds pretty great, huh?
Now, our set point weights can change over time. One of the biggest influences of this that we see today is dieting. Dieting is the biggest predictor of weight gain, it's the natural body's response to dieting. Actually, only 10% of those who lose weight keep it off for over a year. This is thought to be because when we are dieting we're essentially putting our bodies in a state of semi-starvation, many times of which is extreme compared to our daily needs. When we do this our bodies think "WOA! Food is scarce! I better keep a little extra weight on me to have as back up energy!" So, it does just that. This is why so many who diet regain the lost weight and then some. It's our bodies trying to protect themselves.
With each subsequent diet, the thought is our set point weight can increase further. This is why it is SO important to live a life of no food rules. Nip that dieting trap in the bud!
How Can I Find My Set Point Weight?
Now, there are really 3 options here. You may be above, below, or at their set point weight. That being said, some may gain weight, some may lose weight, and some may maintain their weight. None of these outcomes are bad. What I always say is: How do you FEEL in your body? If you don't FEEL great, chances are you're not at your set point weight.
Here are a few other questions you can ask yourself to see if you might be above or below your set point weight:
- Is it hard for you to recognize your hunger and fullness cues?
- Do you eat past fullness often, feeling stuffed at the end of a meal?
- Do you go through periods of restricting food and then eating in excess?
- Do you often skip meals and then find yourself having one meal where you continually eat past fullness?
- Do you eat to cope with emotions like stress, anxiety, or boredom?
- Are you always bouncing back and forth between diets or plans to lose weight or be "healthy"?
If you said yes to any of those, you may be above your set point weight. Now, take a look at these questions:
- Do you feel like you're always thinking about food and obsessing over it?
- Do you plan your meals day(s) in advance to ensure you're being "good" with your eating habits?
- Has your period stopped or become very light or irregular?
- Do you find yourself overexercising to "burn off" what you've eaten?
- Do you feel like you've lost all hunger and fullness cues?
If you answered yes to any of these, you may be below your set point weight.
Now, these questions are not a definitive answer to if you're above or below your set point weight, they're just to give you an idea. These question topics were created by Linda Bacon, the author of Health At Every Size. You can find more info on health at every size and the body's set point weight here. And, if you haven't read (or listened to on Audible!) Health At Every Size I highly recommend it! (You can get a cop of Health At Every Size here on Amazon.)
What Can I Do To Find My Set Point Weight?
When you give up restrictive food rules and start to listen to your body you'll find your set point weight. I'm confident! I've helped thousands of women all over the world find their set point weight with my No Food Rules framework and inside my membership, the SociEATy.
So, here are a few practical steps that you can take to truly start listening to your body, eating in a way that feels good, and finding the weight that you feel amazing at- mentally and physically!
Use The Hunger Scale
Using the hunger scale is HUGE. It's one of my favorite tools and honestly was a game changer when I started using it. You can find a copy of the hunger scale that I use in my free e-book, The Ultimate 5 Step Guide To Food Freedom and you can get a full run-down of how to use it in this YouTube video! Essentially, you're working to understand when to start and stop eating. Assess where you're at before, during, and after eating. The goal is to avoid extremes so you FEEL better and give your body the appropriate amount of food to do so.
Assess Your Food Choices
For this, simple look back on the day and ask "What made me feel good and what didn't?" And I don't mean what did you feel "good" eating as in if you were following some diet rule, I mean literally... how did you FEEL. Mentally & physically. How can you add in more of those feel-good options? Pick on thing to work on at a time. Then, add another!
Get Rid Of Weight Controlling Items
The scale, the calorie burn tracking fitness tracker, MyFitnessPal, WW Points... It's gotta go! I know this one is super scary, but SO important to finding your set point weight. Why? All of these items are influencing the way you eat, the way you move your body, your metabolism, etc. All of this is taking away from you listening to your body.
So, take a second. Right now. And smash the scale! Let your fitness tracker die..and don't recharge it! This is a HUGE leap of faith, but one that is so worth it. Imagine yourself 1, 5, 10 years from now. Imagine yourself as a little old lady in the nursing home. Do you want to be counting how many points/calories/etc are in the chocolate pudding they served you!? HECK NO!
Your body WILL tell your how to regulate it's energy needs. That is, if you LISTEN. And, trust me. I counted calories for 6 years and have now been living with no food rules for 4. Living with no food rules is WAY EASIER once you truly achieve it! And, I'll be here by your side every step of the way! You got this!
PS. You can learn more about my story overcoming food rules and the 3 steps that I took in this post about how I was able to make peace with food & my body.
Leave a comment with "I'M IN!" If you're ready to find your set point weight and be DONE with food rules FOREVER! Living with no food rules is uh-mazing!
Happy food rule breaking,
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