I want to lose weight noooowwwwww! You may have heard me express this sentiment in my recent blog, Should I Keep Going or Give Up? I think the desire to shed pounds — not in a year, not in six months, but NOW – has been a huge obstacle for me.
This urge is a consuming force in American society today. Lots of evidence points to our insatiable search for quick weight loss: the billions of dollars we spend on fly-by-night diet cures (Yep, I’ve tried HCG.), the rise of extreme workouts that promise to take us from the couch to ripped in six weeks, and the lack of parking at my gym every January. We want to get thinner, faster.
I totally get this. It sucks to tug a pair of tight jeans around my muffintop and suck in my gut just to reach the buttonhole. I hate that “swish, swish” sound my thighs make as they whisper not-so-secret secrets through my pantyhose. “Get this weight off!” my mind demands. It’s a short path from there to the diet/weight loss potion isle.
As I’m on this journey to lose 100 pounds in 1 year, I still want to lose weight on-schedule; I’ve been dismayed at not being able to keep up the allotted two pounds per week. I’m also learning, however, that mine is a lifelong quest. The keys, principles, and skills I’m learning have to last as long as I live. They have to survive stress, crisis, and boredom. In that respect, I can only relax, forgive my ansiness, and allow my body the time it needs to become healthier. As one wise reader put it, “You didn’t put the weight on in one year; it might take longer to take it off.”
I agree. Especially after learning about “Set Point.” Many thanks and kind kudos to my brother, Ryan, for saving up issues of a magazine he gets from his gym, called Experience Life. I love, love, love this mag! It’s packed with reliable facts, inspirational stories, and alternative ideas to feed my adventurous spirit.
One issue contains the goldmine article, Keep the Weight Off, where the author chronicled lifelong habits of folks who’ve lost a lot of weight and learned to maintain. In that article, the principle of “Set Point” was explained. Here’s a quick overview…
Set Point is like the default weight of our body. All body systems calibrate themselves to this default number. As such, my hormones are programmed to react accordingly. For example, if I gain weight, certain hormones increase while others decrease. If I lose weight, the same happens, but opposite. All of this hormone is meant to keep me at my Set Point. As we learned in 8th grade biology, homeostasis is the body’s prime directive.
If I’ve been overweight for years, then my Set Point is going to be higher. Losing weight can happen, but it will be harder to maintain the loss because my body will always re-adjust to return to my Set Point. How agonizing! Just when I’ve fit into those skinny jeans, my body tries to put the pounds back on! To trump this biological reaction, I have to reset my Set Point. But, I have to do it slow. The only way to reprogram my Set Point is to lose weight slowly, slow enough to stay under the homeostasis radar. This takes patience and perseverance, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
To reprogram a Set Point, professionals recommend a slow-burn of no more than 5% of total body weight every three months. I know; that’s achingly slow. Yet, if I can be kind enough with myself to do that, then keeping that weight off will be so much easier. Plus — and here’s the good news – homeostasis is always working, even when I gain creeper pounds. Once I’ve reprogrammed my body to a lower Set Point, I can gain a couple of pounds and my systems will go to work burning it off while I sleep.
Here’s to reprogramming my Set Point! With a little patience and a lot of faith, I can reach my life-long dream of a healthy body and ensure a lifetime left for dreaming.
Shelby is on her most revealing and thrilling adventure yet: to find out what it’s like to lose 100 pounds in 1 year. She began on Thanksgiving 2011. Will she make it? Find out by joining Shelby on this journey, not only of the body, but of the soul and mind. Shelby lives in Missoula, Montana where she works out at The Women’s Club Health and Fitness Center. She also writes a blog about what it means to be true to ourselves at RadicallyAuthentic.wordpress.com.