Do you ever feel as though your body is fighting your weight loss efforts? Have you ever noticed when you hit a plateau on your weight loss journey that it seems as though whatever you do, the scale just won't move?
The dieting industry will tell you to eat less, move more, measure and write down everything you put in your mouth, and to always keep a journal. But what actually is happening within our mind and body just might surprise you.
The Secret to Losing Weight
Millions of years ago, our survival was threatened by the amount of fat our bodies carried.
To help us survive, our bodies were designed to keep our fat levels within a consistent range. Because of this, we have a system called the homeostatic regulation of weight, and our brain is constantly monitoring our Body Fat Set-Point within this system.
The Body Fat Set-Point is where our brain "feels" safe in the amount of body fat we carry. Our brain triggers this system into action in response to our body fat moving outside of this "safe" range. When our body fat is either above or below the set-point, the homeostatic regulation of weight is triggered into action.
When we lose weight, the homeostatic system will increase our hunger and decrease our metabolism, thus preserving energy and encouraging us to increase our caloric intake. This makes it difficult for us to continue to lose and maintain the weight we've lost.
In reverse, when we gain a few pounds, our body does the opposite and tries to return us back to our lower weight, by decreasing our hunger and increasing our metabolism.
Think of the Body Fat Set-Point like a thermostat, cycling up and down to maintain a consistent temperature. This system works great if we're at our ideal weight, but when we're over weight, our set-point increases, and our body begins to defend what we are working so hard to lose!
Our Body Defends the Set-Point
Whether we have 10 or 100 pounds of excess body fat, our body will defend the set-point, and fight our weight loss.
As a result, we find ourselves at war with our body to lose fat. We're fighting an extremely old and powerful evolutionary mechanism in our brain, and as hard as we may try, it's unfortunately not within our conscious control.
To be successful at weight loss, our set-point must be lowered. This is why the odds are stacked against dieters. It's been estimated that 90% of people who go on a calorie-restricted diet gain their weight back, and often gain a few additional pounds.
The human body was built to survive a famine. Thousands of years ago this was a necessary tool in order to stay alive. But in today's world, this survival mechanism works against us when we're trying to lose weight.
Unfortanately, the mind and body simply don't know the difference between a weight loss plan and a famine. In other words, all weight loss is treated as though we're experiencing a famine.
How to Reset Your Set-Point
The good news is, you can reset your set-point. The trick is to eat enough good, healthy foods to feel satisfied when you reach a plateau. Then wait for your body to accept your new, lower weight before trying to lose again.
If you allow your weight to stabilize for a few months, you'll have a better chance of keeping the weight off long-term. In fact, you'll actually be "helping" put your brain at ease during the weight loss process. Which will help keep you from a situation where your body begins to fight the weight you've lost.
It may take longer to reach our ideal weight, but you're allowing your brain and body the opportunity to reprogram itself. It'll also help prevent you from yo-yo'ing the same 10 pounds over and over.