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So since we’ve already discussed what set-point weight actually is (if you haven’t read part 1 go back and have a read) let’s talk a bit more about how to know when you’re actually there.
When you’re at your set-point weight it will be effortless to maintain and by that I mean you won’t have to micromanage what you eat or what you do. Now, that doesn’t mean you’ll stay at the exact same weight forever, that’s impossible. Our weight (and body shape) will naturally change as we age and differences in your lifestyle will also have effects. For example, when you go on holiday and have a greater array of exciting, new foods to try and you might spend a bit more time lounging in the sun then yes, your weight might go up. But, when you’re home and flow back into usual life your weight will normalise again. Without you having to crash diet both before and after, things naturally work themselves out.
It can be tricky to know when you’re at your set-point weight but below are some behaviours that when put together will mean you’re likely there:
This means having a varied and balanced diet which includes food from all the food groups. These being (loosely) fruit and veg, starchy and wholegrain foods, protein foods, dairy foods and play or fun foods.
Obviously, if some food groups aren’t available to you for health reasons, e.g. gluten-containing foods for those with coeliac disease then that’s one thing. But, if you’re restricting for so-called health or skinny-making reasons then this is likely to lead to backlash eating and weird feelings around these foods.
Otherwise known as intuitive or joyful movement, this doesn’t mean dragging yourself to the gym once a week even though you hate it because that’s what everyone else does. It means finding ways of moving your body that feel great, energise you and make you want to come back for more!
This will come when you stop restricting foods – remember the restrict-binge pendulum? The harder you restrict the harder you’ll eventually over-eat/binge. By making peace with food and seeing all foods as equal you’ll reduce the desire to over-eat certain foods because you’ll know you can have them again. Whenever you want!
Now this doesn’t mean having no stress, because small amounts of manageable stress is actually not a bad thing and keeps us focussed and engaged. But, feeling overwhelmed with stress has huge knock-on effects for our mental and physical health and emotional wellbeing. Having a good support network around you can be a great place to start, so that you don’t feel alone and can talk things out.
SUPER IMPORTANT! Without decent sleep everything in life gets harder and that includes eating in accordance with what your body wants (carb cravings when you’re tired is such a thing) and moving your body in the way it wants. Being tired also impacts our metabolism, stress levels, concentration/focus, mood, blood pressure, immunity and sex drive. So let’s keep this one a priority shall we?
Emotional eating means eating to distract ourselves from pain, worry, stress or sadness. Think Bridget Jones with her ice cream… feels great in the moment but once that tub’s gone the underlying issue hasn’t been solved and now you feel kinda sick. Self-care is how we physically practice self-compassion which helps us actually face our feelings and deal with what's causing negative emotions. Boring self-care means simple things you can do right now to take care of yourself and that help nurture some peace in your life, instead of always turning to food. Check out this instagram account for great tips on boring self-care or have a search online.
This relates to the above two points. Spending time with people who you trust, can speak openly with and just generally give you the warm and fuzzies is incredible for our mental and emotional wellbeing.
Using our internal signals of hunger and fullness to guide what we eat is essential to maintaining your set-point weight. Your body is awesome at regulating how much it needs, taking into consideration what’s going on inside you and in relation with what’s going on outside (e.g. temperature, how long’s it been since you ate, what you’ve been up to etc). The ‘for the most part’ is the most important phrase here though because normal eating means sometimes eating too much and sometimes not enough. There’s no such thing as perfect, so quit trying already!
This is a great point to finish on. As I said before, this includes ALL foods that make you feel good. And be honest with yourself, which foods make you feel the best, most energised, content version of yourself. Sometimes this might mean cheesecake, other times a bowl of berries. This is never the same all the time so tune in and enjoy that food.