I finally read the “Health at Every Size” book by Linda Bacon. It’s a decent book. The first half of it is about the science and statistics of how damaging and unsuccessful dieting is.
“Dieting activates “thrifty genes” that induce weight gain, both by increasing your hunger drive and decreasing your metabolism, and triggers other weight-gain mechanisms, many of which are beyond your conscious control.”
“So why fight? Give up counting calories and trying to control your eating through dieting. Instead, let your body do the regulating for you. I promise you’ll have far better results. The healthy weight that your body aims for is called your setpoint weight. Think of it as the preferred temperature on a fat thermostat. Like any thermostat, this one can be set at whatever point is most comfortable.”
Meaning = stop the yo yo dieting, restriction, tracking of every calorie. LISTEN to your body’s cues. Stop eating when you are full. Exercise to feel good. Your body will do the rest.
The most interesting thing I read, which was new to me, was this concept of “Set Point”:
Your setpoint is:
• The weight you maintain when you listen and respond to your body’s signals of hunger and fullness.
• The weight you maintain when you don’t fixate on your weight or food habits.
• The weight you keep returning to between diets.
This made a lot of sense to me. When I was losing the weight before, when I got to about 170-175 it was HARD to move the needle. My body did NOT want to change from that. The rest of the weight loss was pretty easy, slow but easy, once I got to what I now think was my “setpoint” was, I had to be pretty drastic to lose any more weight. And once I lost the weight, I still had to eat low calories to maintain it. I got used to it. My body adapted and I learned how to ignore my hunger cues. Which I think, is very damaging. This quote made me almost gasp:
“Another possibility is that you are getting hungry, but psychological barriers prevent you from feeling that hunger.“
Now, post-baby when I was struggling to get back to my “pre-baby body”, once again, the scale did not move. I think the lowest I got after having Logan was 169 or so. So perhaps I do have a setpoint.
“…eating when you’re hungry helps maintain your setpoint and keep you at the weight that’s right for you, and denying your hunger leads to compensatory mechanisms that trigger fat storage and weight gain.”
This year I have been trying to make a change. I stopped counting my calories and logging them. I stopped restricting types of food (i.e. keto). I listened to my body. If I craved something, or was hungry, I ate. In moderation. Nothing crazy. Just normal. And what happened? I didn’t gain any weight. I also didn’t LOSE any weight. But clearly my body knew what to do and did it.
“When you eat what you want and allow yourself to truly experience the pleasure, you feel satisfaction and contentment, which allows you to stop eating when you feel full.”
“Most studies find that people who regularly exercise are only about five to ten pounds lighter than those who are sedentary….many studies have found women actually gain weight and body fat with exercise. One study that monitored large women who did six months of aerobic exercise four to five times a week found that a third of them gained 15 pounds of body fat, and that the gainers averaged an 8-pound weight gain.”
The second half is more “self help” about how to be accepting of your body at any size it is. Here are a few tidbits that spoke to me:
“Your body doesn’t represent your core self. You are many more important things beyond your body: Perhaps you are compassionate, intelligent, articulate, and/or creative. Don’t give your body more power than it deserves; it can’t define you. Instead, cultivate a value system that puts appearance in its place and honors bodies for more than their packaging. Your body is valuable because it houses you.”
“…remind yourself that you are more than your body. Make a list of everything you like about yourself.”
“Instead of promising yourself new clothes when you lose weight, go out now and buy clothes you feel good wearing, no matter what you weigh.”
“Recognize that your drive to eat has been a good thing. It alerted you to the fact that you had needs that weren’t being met and led you to where you are today—a place where you can finally take care of yourself.”
I encourage everyone who is struggling with their weight or body image to read this book. There were a lot of lightbulb moments for me.
And finally, I encourage you to read this article (especially good for “Friends” fans). It was excellent! And another lightbulb moment.