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Weight Set Point


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Can someone explain it to me? I don't get it. But I always hear people talking about it (on the internet I mean) and act like it's the greatest thing to ever happen. From what I understand it's the belief that the body has a set weight that it tries to maintain and that your body knows what it is doing. I don't trust my body. I don't think it has a clue what to do. I mean sometimes I can't eat and other times like last night I ate five slices of toast, three bannanas and peanut butter straight from the jar, ew. How is that helpful? I don't see how that was nutritional. My body doesn't hover around a set number, ever really. The topic also terrifies me as I've read that you can break your set point, thus making you over weight and hard to change it.

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Idk how to describe the set point theory (you pretty much described it really well), but I do believe it based on myself.  I hovered between 115-125 for years.  Then I had 3 hip surgeries, and I was sedentary for a very long time, causing me to gain weight and not lose it again.  My set point changed to a higher number now, but I am working on getting it lower again.  So based on my experiences I do believe in the theory.

 

(I just googled "set point theory" there are tons of sites that have explanations about it).

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I *think* it is that your body can regulate itself, so maybe one day you might eat more calories than another, but it all evens out over time, and you hover around whatever weight is your set point.

 

I do not believe in "calories in calories out" because you could have a candy bar (say maybe 240 calories), or you could have 3 small apples (same calories, approx).  Those foods/ calories are different and will digest differently because of the different content of the food (ie apples are higher in fiber so they will take longer to digest and wont spike your blood sugar; a candy bar usually has little to no fiber and will spike your blood sugar almost right away).  So calories in/out IMO are different. 

 

Yes, your body needs a certain amount of calories/day, but the calories you choose can impact your weight significantly (ie if you choose junk all day vs like fruit and nuts or something -- healthy foods).  I have been reading A LOT about balancing blood sugar, and I find personally that if I eat foods that will stabalize my blood sugars (if you google glycemic index, those are some examples of different foods and how they affect a person's blood sugar) I currently am losing weight.  And I don't count calories.  I have no idea how many calories I eat every day; I just eat to try and manage my blood sugar level based on the glycemic index and I don't need to count calories.  And I eat 7-8 times a day (usually) ... not big meals, but small ones when I am hungry.  I know for me if I was eating junk food, that would increase my weight, regardless of how often or not I ate.

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I should probably consider the value of calories, that's hard for me to understand. I can take in the same amount of calories in vegetables or in junk food but the results are the same for me. So it's the weight that your body naturally hovers around? I don't know what mine is, I think I'm scared to find out. My family are all overweight and if that's nature then it scares me. Thank you for the example that was helpful.

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This webmd article states that the set point is "not just about your genes." But that eating and exercise also help to get your body to its set point.

So it sounds like you can have an impact on your body's set point weight and it is not just something you inherit.

My body doesn't seem to have a set point either. I've weighed in the double digits (thanks ED...not!) and I've weighed over 250lbs sad to say. I guess somewhere in the middle would be ideal.

http://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/ideal-weight-or-happy-weight

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From my experience it works - I eat exactly what I want, when I'm hungry, and my weight stays pretty much the same. But you do really have to trust your body. I've found that if you completely give up attempting to control your food intake you really do end up just eating as much as you need - stopping halfway through a candy bar etc 

 

Bananas and peanut butter are pretty good things to eat - contain vitamins and protein, maybe if you hadn't eaten much the rest of the day that was what you needed?

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I think my hunger cues are broken, or not very useful or something. I'm going to try and eat what my body wants, if it can make up it's mind! I'm glad it's moveable cheese, I'm sorry you don't know where your set point is either. I usually forget to eat if I don't make a forceful effort, but then theres crap like last night. I hadn't eaten anything before that, but I had planned to eat a salad and some tofu (healthy food) ha.

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An eating disorder can wreck havoc not only with your body's internal cues (see: the Minnesota starvation study) but also how your brain interpets them. Hence the mental illness part, rather than physical.

I applaud your resolve to listen better! Some people find that they need to have someone external to trust (a dietician, a nutritionist, a doctor of some sort) while all of those elements re-tool themselves.

Having a set schedule goes a long way, too. Can you set multiple alarms on your phone? Try "eat snack" twice daily, or "eat meal" twice daily. I was shocked when I first learned how easily one can relapse by skipping a meal.

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I should probably consider the value of calories, that's hard for me to understand. I can take in the same amount of calories in vegetables or in junk food but the results are the same for me. So it's the weight that your body naturally hovers around? I don't know what mine is, I think I'm scared to find out. My family are all overweight and if that's nature then it scares me. Thank you for the example that was helpful.

 

From what I've read about it, yes. (too lazy to find a link, but I am sure it is in one if you google the set point theory).  That was how it worked for me.  I hovered within a 10 pound range before my set point changed to a higher weight after the hip surgeries.

Edited by melissaw72
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Most of what I was going to say has already been mentioned above.  Good replies and suggestions :)

 

My understanding is that your body's set point is the range around which your body weight usually hovers.  I think it is dictated by genetics, lifestyle/diet, and regulatory hormones. 

 

My body very naturally falls into a 10 pound range (seasonal variation), and that point has changed over time depending on where I am at with my eating patterns and exercise habits.  The point is that one's body kind of gets settled in a certain range, but that does not mean that one is "destined" to be overweight or underweight.

 

My internal cues are so off, due to ED history, anxiety, and depression.  Creating a meal plan and eating "by the clock" has always been the best way for me get my body and mind back into a synchronous groove.

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My weight naturally hovered at what it was for yaers, but that was through eating when I was hungry and not when I felt like it. I have days when I can eat and feel like I can't stop but then others when I have to remind myself that I need to eat something because I just don't feel hungry. For every day of undereating my body will tell me the next day I need more food so I over eat, thus balancing it out. I can't describe it half as well as everyone else has. I've gained over the last two years because I was in recovery and then I started losing weight again a few months ago but and I was worried it would cause a fuss with the docs and all that but I hit a number and its just 'right' so now I know I can eat and 'never' go above this number (unless I have a huge HUGE binge or its that time of the month) but at the same time I know I will not lose a thing because my body is comfortable. Its about 5lbs range if I am eating normally and not stuffing myself on pizza, at some points in the month I will be 2lbs under it, sometimes 4lbs over it, but its just I dunno... right?

 

It's weird... and I think it takes a lot to change it. Eating disorders really do mess with you more than you think :-/

Edited by Paperskyscraper
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Just a thing that kinda bugs me a little, is using numbers (weights) on the ED forum..

I'm currently above my old weight, but then again, I was exercising a LOT. I was horseback riding 3 x's a week, and for every hour you ride, you spend 2 with the horse, getting them ready, grooming, tacking up, walking out, etc. And not just mild riding... full on 4ft courses. :) 

Then I had 2 bad falls and broke a bunch of bones. And got put on Zyprexa. 

 

I've lost a little bit. It's too hot here to exercise and I have a shoulder injury that is permanent and will get worse (looking at surgery). I'm not sure I'd use a gym membership right now, but I am considering it. I swim a lot.

 

Some things can set off weight changes. My mom gained a little bit when she went through menopause. She didn't change anything, but it stayed. I had an ED for so long my body doesn't know what is what anymore. It's confused!

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A set weight is a weight your body will "set" if you eat healthily and exercise moderately. Set points can and do change throughout the lifetime. Set weights can be hard to budge through traditional dieting or exercise if your body has settled on it. Sometimes set weights can be decreased and increased. For example, before my ED, my set weight seemed to be 130 (I'm 5'6''). It is pretty much a hover of 10lbs. Throughout the years though, I've had set weights at 130, 120 and 115, and then back to 130 (after pregnancy). It appears that our bodies are pretty smart :) They can create a set point if, after a long time period has passed and a decent weight gain has occurred (however, it is highly unusual to have an underweight set point).  But, from my experience, you body prefers and will always take you back to it's favorite set point (for me, 130). 

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As San mentioned, can we not use weight numbers on the ED board? It upsets others, and it just stirs my competitive nature and makes me want to compete to be half as big as you, or whatnot. And, really, that's not helpful nor conducive to recovery.

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