“Set Point Weight” Theory Never Made Me Happy


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Standing next to that particularly dapper fellow- is me. Well, it was me, about 50 lbs ago. Like many Americans, my weight  problems started early and only got worse in a culture that never taught me anything about health.

As someone who had been bigger all my life, I too believed that was simply my bodies natural “set point”. That any change in diet or exercise would ultimately be useless because this was the weight my body naturally balanced out to. A lot of people subscribe to this theory for a variety of reasons. But I can say honestly now that the reason I believed this was purely denial.

This is a very sensitive subject, I know. I spent years hating my body and feeling inadequate. When speaking to larger women now, I can see them comparing themselves endlessly. It’s heartbreaking because I know that pain well. But the reality I had to face, and the thing that ultimately lead to me transforming my body, was that I was doing it to myself.

I didn’t have a thyroid problem, I drank too much soda.

I’m not allergic to anything, I just eat mindlessly and sit at my computer too much.

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The unfortunate wash on my jeans makes it look like I’ve wet my pants. But I assure you, I’m just fat.

Walking up the stairs to my apartment is not exercise, I’m just being lazy.

Now, I want to be clear: I know many people have physical problems that keep them from maintaining a healthy weight. This isn’t an attempt to shame anyone to lose weight. I think fat shaming is a crappy and ineffective ways to talk to people about health. But I wasn’t happy with my weight and had already started experiencing health problems in my twenties due to my diet.

Your body type can change the number of how much you weight drastically. For instance, I was about 170lbs in the above photo. Now, that wouldn’t be a problem if I was broad shouldered and 5’11. But sadly I’m a petite 5’3. Everything from your genetics, your height and race can change what is a healthy weight for an individual. But. None of those factors can make you naturally overweight. You do not have 30, 50, or 100lbs of excess fat because that’s your body’s “natural set point”. It may be the result of your natural lifestyle but that’s different. It’s something within your control which is why it’s so hard to accept. I know, it was hard for me too.

I had no idea how lazy I was. I was raised into a sedentary lifestyle and didn’t know any other way to be. The first time I went to a gym, I was on an elliptical for eight minutes before stopping, thinking that would be enough. Eight minutes. I had no idea what it felt like to push myself, to sweat, to ache or “feel the burn”. I wasn’t just addicted to junk food, I was addicted to comfort.

As someone who desperately wanted to lose weight, without doing anything uncomfortable of course, I set out to try any quick fix I could find. And none of it worked, obviously, because it was only treating the symptoms. I wasn’t willing to except that the real problem was with all the things I didn’t want to change.
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Four years and one pregnancy later I’m feeling a lot better. I’m happier with the way my body looks and feels. But in the end the real turning point for me was the decision to stop making excuses for myself. Ideas like “set body weight” are tempting and may make us feel better, but it’s an emotional band aid.

No one should hate their body and an often overlooked idea in the body positivity movement is the any mention of health or fitness. Being positive about your body shouldn’t just be about ignoring shitty media messages (although, fuck you Victoria Secret, for real.) It should be treating your body well. That means paying attention to its needs, not mistreating the only body you’ve got.

 

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4 thoughts on ““Set Point Weight” Theory Never Made Me Happy

  1. I agree with you.

    Going through school, I was always a small kid and teenager, I didn’t have the magical high metabolism, and I didn’t eat like a rabbit. I grew in out-port Newfoundland, so basically the middle of nowhere. There wasn’t much to do so I was active (swimming, sports, skating, running, tag, just about anything to stay busy) all throughout my childhood right until I graduate high school.

    I start gaining weight in college. Why?

    Drinking, not being active, eating very unhealthy foods (fast foods, something I didn’t have access to in my hometown) In a matter of months I went from 125 pounds, to close to 160. Like you I’m not a tall person, a whopping 5’2. I stayed that why until I joined the military, needless to say I lost not all, but most of the weight. (It’s a miracle what getting forced out of bed at 5 in the morning and running 5k does. Sleep, who needs sleep?)

    Once out of basic training and not running every day and everything else they threw at you, I started to gain weight again, because, I wasn’t active enough I wasn’t eating right. (Are you starting to see a pattern? You think I learn the first time, but, lazy it the only reason)

    At one point I was 180 pounds. I didn’t like myself, I wasn’t happy; I’d get tired from just walking. I decided enough was enough. I started working out, eating right, and the weight start to come off, not right away, but over the months you start to see your clothes loosen and you you’re self, start to feel good. (And you actually start to crave healthy foods, I know, sounds crazy, but it’s true)

    Last year I started gaining weight as I was working out and eating right. As it turned out there was medical reason behind the sudden weight gain (tumor in my abdomen) and I had to have major surgery. Because of the surgery, and the copulations that followed it. (Internal bleeding, that wasn’t a good day) I wasn’t allowed to work out. I wasn’t even allowed to lift a broom. It’s been a year now, and I only got cleared to start working out slowly, this week. I’ve gain weight, I know that, and now I have to rework my body because I will always have pain in my abdomen because of that surgery. (Yay..  )

    From my ups and downs I know it’s passable to get me back to a healthy weight. It’s going to be tricky because of where my surgery was but I don’t care about being skinny, I just want to be healthy and happy. Losing weight isn’t hard, there’s no magic fix, but it also isn’t easy. Results aren’t instance, it isn’t good for your body to lose an excessive amount of weight too fast, and that causes other problems that aren’t worth it. My doctor told me to try and lost one to two pounds a month, don’t go crazy, you’ll get there, and never say I can’t. From me being in the military for almost a decade (Still in BTW) I have pushed myself pass my limits before, and saying I can’t isn’t in me anymore.

    Have support, confide in a friend, keep a journal, and have fun (No one likes doing something they don’t like). Doing group classes always made feel like I wasn’t just working out but having fun, like when I was a kid, playing with the other kids. There’s suppose there was well, because you’re all there for the same reasons.

    I’m a little scared about starting to get back at it, though I have gained weight I’ve lost mussel. I have a long road to go, and I’m terrified. So right now I’m planning out how I’m going to do this and what support I need. I’m probably going to cry a lot, bitch, and I have a feeling that I will say I can’t because of my fear. Having almost died from the surgery has created new fears I never had before. One of them is not admitting out loud that I’m not as strong as I was before. Another, that when I go back to ship, I won’t be able to do my job; I’ll be a burden and looked down upon. Being a girl in the working world is hard enough, being on in the military is a constant war of proving yourself.

    I know I went off tack.

    I know the pain of being overweight, and it sucks. Fat shaming is wrong, it’s hurtful, and it makes people less encouraged to work out. Being kind will get you a long why in the world. I say this to all the retailers who give that disgusted eye when a heavy people walks into their shop. I know that look because it’s been given to me.

    On that note, remember admitting that you need to change is the hardest part, and I mean, admit it out aloud, to a close friend or family member. No one likes to admit they’re over weight; no one likes to admit that they are in the wrong and need to make the change themselves. Nothing going to change until your mind it set on it. Excuses are that, just excuses. Once you start the positive thinking and start saying I can, that’s when you’ll see real results.

    Your body is yours, loving it might be hard, but it’s yours and nothing is going to change that.

    Emily-Ann

  2. When I started to loose weight, I ran into an issue with the “Set Point” because other people, mainly family members, expected me to be a certain weight. I grew up fat. All I had ever been up to that point was fat. So when I started to loose weigh, in a healthy fashion mind you, a lot of them became worried. “You’re too skinny”, “You’re loosing weight too fast”, “Are you sick?” etc. Lots of peer pressure. It was an unexpected challenge that I had to over come.

  3. Pingback: #PissForEquality o cómo indisponer a Internet contra un colectivo a punta de fakes | Escepticismo, poemas y literatura

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