The Truth About Set Point And How You Can Get Past It

If you have been trying to lose weight for a while now, I bet that you jumped into all sorts of products and services that promise to help you achieve your goal, from spa treatments, fad diets, to exercise routines, both in gym or free-form.

But despite the efforts you put and the money you spent, you still find it difficult to shed off that inches off your waist. As time passes by with little to no results, you end up losing the drive and succumb to your fate–maybe dieting is not for you, after all.

What you may not know or consider is the fact that you may not be fighting against your cravings but against human nature itself. Enter the set-point theory, a concept that could be the reason that the numbers on your scale continue to remain the same.

The Theory of Set point: Definition and Mechanisms

You have probably heard of the term “set point” from your friend-slash-gym-buddy who probably read it over the Internet, discussed by an expert. Or, if you are following our site for a few months now, you were left hanging when it was mentioned in this article. You probably wondered yourself if it is indeed true, so you made some digging on your own.

A set point is defined as a specific range (not an actual number) that your body sets to continue with its bodily functions. For your body, this set point is your “normal” weight, regardless if you are overweight or obese. Once you go above or below your set point range, your metabolism would fight at its damnedest to bring you back to your set point weight.

How does it affect your weight loss efforts?

You have probably experienced this cycle of your weight loss:

  1. You decide to put in the effort to shed those pounds.
  2. You lost a substantial amount of weight after a few months.
  3. After some time, the arrow in your scale is not moving anymore even after putting stricter measures in your diet and exercise.
  4. Because you do not see any changes, you eventually give up. Worse, you start to gain back the pounds you have lost in the first place, if not more.

This scenario pretty much tells you how the set point theory works. First, you lose weight; then it reaches a plateau for who knows how long. Then, it’s a fork road–either you persevere and lose more weight, or you give up.

Most of us would choose the latter because we think that we cannot shed the last ten pounds anymore. But in reality, we can still lose it–if we are patient enough.

Contrary to belief, set point can be changed if you give your time body to adjust. Experts say that it takes about six to eight weeks for your metabolism to stop into starvation mode and accept your reduced weight as the new “normal” or “set point.”

Until then, you have to persevere and continue with your persistent dieting and exercise–no matter how futile it may seem to you.

Here are three small ways to keep yourself on track:

Listen to your body.

Because your body assumes that you are in starvation mode, it will push you to binge-eat by giving you biological and psychological triggers such as uncomfortable hunger pangs, constant thoughts about food, and intense cravings at designated times of the day.

You have a choice to either fight these triggers by distracting yourself (exercising or napping is one) or indulge a little by eating a healthy snack, like a handful of nuts or berries, or a piece of fruit.

Set up your environment.

What your environment looks like can make or break your weight loss goals. Studies show that having at least one obese parent increases your propensity for obesity by as much as 20% (double that if both of them are) primarily because they pass on their eating habits to their children. This scenario signifies that your setup plays a significant role in your overall health.

Change this mean cycle by altering your place. It could be as simple as replacing your morning coffee with lemon water to removing your couch in front of the TV to avoid the temptation of sitting down. Some even make drastic changes such as prohibiting junk food and soda to set foot in their house and avoiding eating after 7 PM.

Be aggressive. Turn your place into a battleground against weight gain.

Be patient.

A healthy lifestyle takes years, even decades, to maintain. You just have to be patient and press on. As the old saying goes, “No pain, no gain.” That pain is not only limited to the physical; it also means emotional and mental.

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Wendy has made a career from blogging about the newest fitness trends in the market. From New Mexico, Wendy has been passionate about health since the early age of 11, when she competed in local state Gymnastic competitions.

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