Our body has a wired set point


I recently read an article stating, “Don’t scold yourself for gaining weight, your body is wired to return to a natural set point.” I had a set point once, and I’m pretty sure it was 7 pounds, 13 ounces, but apparently that just wasn’t sustainable.

Obesity doctors feel, when we go on a diet and lose weight, we gain all the pounds back as soon as we go off the diet because our bodies want to return to their set point weight. I say we gain it all back because we eat a sleeve of Oreos and a tall glass of milk as a snack. These doctors whom I think I might love for claiming it’s not my fault, say regaining weight is not about willpower, but biology. I’d enlighten my offspring about this new finding, but they’d say, “Mama, you’re full of something, but the doctor’s right, it’s not willpower.”

Dr. Nick Fuller says when we attempt to lose weight, our bodies resist, and a number of psychological changes occur. These include, but are not limited to, our thyroid, which tries to stop doing its job, our metabolism, which slows to a snail’s pace, and our appetite hormones, which tell us to eat more. These are not fabrications I personally made up, though I would have if I’d thought of it because I love not being held accountable.

According to the obesity doctors, we are each a scientific specimen, who through no fault of our own, when quitting a diet, gain back all the weight at the speed of sound, naturally. They’re saying we are not to blame, but personally, I think all the blather is a bit sketchy. Our brains don’t tell us to eat more tomatoes, or broccoli, cauliflower, salad, bananas, or tangerines. No, brains are much more deviant than that. My brain tells my semi-sane self, “Are you hungry? If you are hungry, you’ll be happy eating an apple.” Then my insane self notifies my semi-sane self, “This is nunya business, so go make yourself useful by getting me a slab of pecan pie and don’t be a slacker; throw on vanilla ice cream.” And I don’t think I’m too far off the fringe of the rest of society.

One phenomenon the article never addressed was the amount of weight we gain when we stop dieting, over and above what we originally weighed before we started dieting. Most of us, at some point in our life, decide we need to lose a few pounds, so we exercise and diet. That gets old fairly quickly, so we go off the diet and then we gain the original weight back, plus 10 more pounds. Then our body happily eats glazed donuts until we decide to diet again, at which point we get back on the elliptical and stop eating the donuts, and sadly, hot fudge sundaes. Then again, we grow discouraged at the slow rate we slough fat cells, so we quit working at it, and startlingly fast, we gain the weight back, plus 10 more. A few times of that and voila, there’s no room at the inn and we have enough rear-end padding to stuff a sofa sleeper.

These experts feel we should plan for slow weight loss, at a rate of 4 pounds per month for one month, then a month of maintenance, before striving to lose again. And we need to be exercising 30 minutes a day, six days a week. They also said we could only watch television 2 hours per day for four days and no television on the other days. What about sitting on the couch with our phone? The doctors never mentioned that so maybe our bodies know the difference and will happily shed the poundage if we only stare at our handheld devices. Also, we’re supposed to get support from a therapist along our weight loss journey to help us be more aware of our bodies.

Gar and I are each other’s therapist and, being cheerfully unconcerned about the other’s body, we often have fruit smoothies. Last night, he took a gulp, then turning to me said, “Mmmm, this is good.” Not, “What’s in this” or “How much sugar did you use?” He didn’t even ask, “Is this straight cream in the berries?” The answer would have caused the doctors to get judgy with me, but since Gar didn’t even think to question, it shows we really are two peas in a pod; two wild, willpower-free, portly peas in a pod.            

Trena Eiden            [email protected]

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