Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Upset Point

This morning my scale told me I lost 3 pounds. I told it to shut up.

I mean, it's not as if it hasn't told me the same thing before. It said I lost 3 pounds last week, and that I had gained the 3 pounds back, then lost and gained the same damn 3 pounds again -- all in one week. That's a total of 2 losses, 2 gains, all of the same 3 pounds. And I'm beginning to think it is the same 3 pounds. I suspect my body is having fun at my expense. Good to know it has a sense of humor.

I'm not really upset. Maybe a bit exasperated. I've been reading up on what the human body does when you ask it to lose weight. The concept of Set Point has been covered in everything from physiology text books to fad diets. My body has clearly decided its set point is right at my current weight.

The only point where I disagree with the majority of what I've read out there is when I come across the opinion that a Set Point is something that is immutable, laid down from the dawn of time, engraved in stone and you're damned to be at that weight for all of your life so get used to it already. Sheesh. I think not.

Covert Bailey lists five mechanisms that your body uses to control your set point, and how exercise can be used to lower each one. (Fit or Fat) This makes sense to me. My set point wasn't this weight when I was 20. Why shouldn't it be something I could change again? But this time, change it in the direction I want. (Though I must say, I don't agree with Covert Bailey's comment that "couch potato Mary needs only a moderate amount of exercise to see a big improvement." It takes about two hours of exercise a day for me to see signs of change on the scale or the measuring tape.)

Interestingly, some psychologists think that your individual level of happiness has a set point too. Not sure how happy I feel about that. I suppose it's good to know that winning the lottery won't make me any happier. But I'd like the chance to find out, all the same.


soapbox girl said...

I, too, need about 2 hours of exercise to see change. (Sometimes I oblige, and sometimes I don't.) Maybe the "norm" is moderate exercise, and we are outside of that norm? Anyway, don't worry, you'll eventually convince your body to give up those three pounds for good, and it will establish another "set point". At least that's how I seem to operate.

Great post, Mary!

H said...

Do you go at SparkPeople or record your food? How is your diet?

I like using the shared tracker at Spark