The weight setpoint theory (I talk about it in episode 83 of Fearless Rebelle Radio), is the idea that our body has a weight range that it functions optimally at.
It suggests that our body works to keep us in this range.
It’s the reason the vast majority of individuals regain weight after going on a diet and why you can’t sustain yourself on a restrictive diet for very long – your body is smart and it fights back!
Learning this information can either be a huge relief, because you finally realize you weren’t the failure, The Soul Sucker™ that is diet culture is the failure. Or it can bring up a ton of emotions because you realize that you may never achieve a smaller version of yourself.
The problem that I see with the setpoint weight is how we use this information. I’ve noticed that it can trigger the diet mentality in us.
As ex-dieters, we crave being in control…as most humans naturally do.
Letting go of this control when we exit the dieting scene is HARD.
We hate the uncertainty.
We want to know exactly what’s going to happen to our body.
And so, we look to the “setpoint theory” to comfort the part of us that is scared shitless about the uncertainty of what’s going to happen to our body.
We think, “when I get to my setpoint, then everything will be OK,” or “once I’ve healed my relationship with food, my setpoint will be lower than where my weight is now” or “there is no way this could be my setpoint.”
The idea of the “setpoint” almost acts like a “goal weight” and this is when things get complicated.
Whenever we latch on to a different weight as an outcome, it triggers the diet mentality.
This makes it harder for us to let go of food rules, eat food effortlessly and stalls our ability to accept our body unconditionally.
We’ve got to disconnect from a future weight and come back to the present.
The reality is that we don’t know what is going to happen to our body. Weight can go up, down or stay the same. It’s complex and the stress of trying to control or predict is it is detrimental to healing our emotional well-being.
The setpoint weight theory gives insight into why intentional weight loss and dieting doesn’t work. But, it’s not to be used a goal because then we’re really just using it as a new version of a “goal weight.”
As Linda Bacon says in Health At Every Size, “Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula or laboratory test to determine your setpoint. Nor is there any objective way to figure out how tightly yours is regulated.”
I encourage clients to drop any expectation of weight loss in order to truly heal their relationship with their body. If this brings up feelings, FEEL THEM… make space for that shit.
It’s a mourning process, but it’s essential to really letting go and moving forward.
Don’t let the idea of a setpoint weight mess up your relationship with food or your ability to accept your body.
It is not a “goal” to be achieved or a “destination” to arrive at and finally have everything fall into place.
Rather than focusing on the outcome (landing at your setpoint weight), focus on continuing to heal your relationship with food and your body (body image work is integral) and take weight out of the equation.
It’s the only way to get to a point where you can trust and appreciate your body.
And it’s worth it. I promise.