You may have already experienced this or heard me say it in the past, but diets don’t work.
Why is that? Haven’t we always heard that fewer calories in and more calories out results in weight loss?
Here’s the thing. We’re all different! If we all did exactly the same exercise and ate exactly the same things, we would not all look exactly the same. I think we all know this on some level. But why do we then expect that we can make ourselves look like someone on a magazine cover or in our Instagram feed if only we would do the same exercise or eat the same things that they do?
Each person has what is called a set point range, or a weight range that their body will maintain with very minimal effort. Our bodies are smart and they regulate several variables very tightly to keep things running smoothly – temperature, blood pH, breathing, heart rate, and on and on. Your weight is no exception.
You may be able to get your weight below your set point for awhile but your body will fight very hard to get it back up by doing things like slowing your metabolism. So, the longer you try to maintain that low weight, the harder it will be to keep it there. If you try to do this long enough, your body will even raise your set point range to protect itself from future periods of inadequate energy intake.
It is possible that you are currently above your set point weight if you regularly eat past comfortable fullness, eat to cope with boredom or stress, overeat in preparation for your next diet, or go extended periods of time without eating, resulting in intense hunger and overeating. In this case, sustainable weight loss might occur if you work to adopt more healthful behaviors around food.
However, it is also possible that you are below or already within your set point weight range. This does not mean that developing a healthy relationship with food isn’t important though, because continuing to attempt or think about dieting will do you no good.
As Traci Mann so perfectly stated in her book Secrets From the Eating Lab, even if the “perfect” diet was developed, “Maybe you can lose the pounds relatively easily, but keeping them off would have to become your life’s work. And your life is much too valuable to spend that way…you were not put on this earth to mold yourself into a perfect physical specimen.”