Set Point Theory: Is Your Weight Stuck?

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Although genetics are not the only component to our health and weight, it plays a major role. I hear men and women saying, “I remember I was stick thin when I was 16 and I could eat anything.” Sorry to break it to you: you’re not 16 anymore. Metabolically, we change as we grow up. A part of it is attributed to our age, which we cannot control. However, what we can control is our lifestyle.

But so many times, I’ve heard people say that they follow every healthy rule in the book: they eat right and they exercise, yet they can’t lose those last 5 pounds. Or even more frustrating, their weight fluctuates wildly throughout the year even though they have dieted and initially lost weight. Enter the “Set-Point Theory” about weight. It hypothesizes that each of us have our equilibrium weight plus or minus 10%. Any lower or any higher than this range is hard to sustain unless it is supplemented by consistently overeating or starving oneself. Fad diets and quick weight loss programs are evidence to this theory. Now, this is not an excuse to get lazy, not exercise, and not eat healthfully. Instead, there may be a point when you  realize that you are doing everything you can do and that it’s time to stop criticizing your body. Your weight is not an automatic indicator of your health, your value, or your beauty.

Personally, I love the slogan “strong is the new skinny.” It pushes the old desires to be skinny and advocates for people to feel strong and invigorated. That feeling comes from commitment to regular exercise and mindful eating. Physically, the natural high after a good workout is unparalleled. Mentally, it feeds into our competitiveness and sense of accomplishment. Mindful eating doesn’t mean only eating lettuce. It comes from a balanced relationship with food that is rich in whole foods and moderate in indulgences. So, get off of the scale (and stay off) and build your life around feeling healthy and strong.

Thomas Ngo
Dietetic/Nutrition Intern
NASM Certified Personal Trainer

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