Just like your body doesn’t want to have too little weight on it, like when it’s dieting, it also doesn’t want to have more than it needs. It’s like Goldilocks.. Just tryina’ find the riiiiiight weight for itself!
You start out your Intuitive Eating journey feeling fresh, excited, and ready to learn how to quit diet culture and start living. You break your food rules left and right, find more inner peace with your body, find joyful movement for the first time in years. Then you go to put on your favorite pants and they fit a little tighter than they used to. And your mindset crashes. You start to think, how did this happen? I feel so good! Oh no, maybe Intuitive Eating is not going to help me with my health, and I’m just going to gain weight forever?!
First, take a deep breath. You will not gain weight forever. Your body doesn’t WANT you to gain weight forever. Just like your body doesn’t want to have too little weight on it, like when we diet, it also doesn’t want to have more weight on it than it needs. Studies have shown that Intuitive eating is actually linked to weight STABILITY! Yep, Intuitive eaters have more stable weights and less functions. Let me explain.
Let me give you an analogy here. Think about a house. The thermostat is set to keep it at a steady temperature. Depending on the circumstances the thermostat will adjust to keep the house at a stable temperature, right? Well, what if I told you our bodies had their own WEIGHT thermostat? Would you believe me? Well, they do!
Now, I want you to think of a dieter’s weight thermostat as one of those fancy ones that hook up to the internet. When it’s online it’s functioning and everything is fine and dandy. But… when the internet goes out it get all wonky and doesn’t know how to hold the temperature. This, in essence, is where your weight thermostat may be: offline. That doesn’t mean it’s broken and you can’t get it back, we just need to hook it back up!
I’ve mentioned multiple times now that intuitive eating is weight neutral. So weight gain, loss or maintenance is not the goal, our behaviors are. That means honoring our hunger and fullness, implementing gentle nutrition, finding intuitive movement, taking care of our bodies needs, etc. In terms of weight the “goal” is to find your set point weight or genetically determined weight. This is the weight that your body weight thermostat will maintain with normal, intuitive eating and normal movement.=
Despite what diet culture makes you think, we can’t just decide what weight we want to be at. My goal is to help you take the focus OFF of weight and by doing so this will allow your body to settle into its set point weight AKA it’s genetic weight.
It’s important to note that this weight is not a singular weight. It’s a range that scientists predict to be typically about 10-20 lbs. It is not a stagnant weight, either. It can change throughout our lives. One’s pre-pregnancy weight may not be the same as the post- pregnancy set point weight, for example. This is not bad. This is not wrong. Our bodies are adjusting to the lived experiences. Our set point weight can also change with dieting. Dieting causes something called “weight cycling”. Which means that for every diet we go on we typically gain more weight. The more diets we do, the more this compounds and our set point weight “can creep up”. This is, again, not BAD! This is our body protecting us. Our bodies see each diet as a starvation. And so it will then pack on some extra energy (weight) to have on hand for the next time it encounters this. Your body is protecting you. We need to show that there is no threat to protect from.
When you’ve reached your set weight your weight will stabilize, again- within a range, you’ll be listening to your hunger, fullness, and satisfaction. You’ll be moving your body regularly without overexercising. And you’ll FEEL good. I want to stress that last part. It should feel good. This doesn’t mean you’ll never have joint pain or have your thighs rub together- those things happen at ALL weights. What I mean is that you feel good with the way you’re fueling and moving your body., it’s easy and doesn’t take up tons of brainspace. This is key to remember.
Again, as hard as it is, I want you to take the focus off of “what is my set point weight?!” and turn your focus to how you FEEL. I’ve had clients who have gained weight, lost weight, and simply maintained their weight as they work to become an intuitive eater and all of them have said this same thing: you have got to take the focus off of the weight and shift it onto how you feel. Clients in all 3 of these categories have said they feel SO much better with the outcome, the gain, loss or maintenance.
The process of finding your set point weight likely will not be linear, as with the whole intuitive eating journey. And I bet you’re wondering “Well, how can I know my set point weight?!” Valid question. Here is the thing, gorgeous: as chronic dieters with a past of weight cycling, it is really hard to tell where your weight might land. And that can be frustrating, I get it! We just want to KNOW. It truly can feel like a leap of faith. Which is scary when you’ve been told NOT to trust your body for so long.
We have research to show that our bodies can navigate to this weight if we listen to them and allow them to. And listening to your body and re-earning that trust with them can take time and isn’t a linear process which means your weight journey might not be either.
You are not alone in this.This set point weight finding process will not happen overnight. But if your goal is to have a stable weight where you FEEL good at. Where you can live life. Where eating is easy? You’re in the right place.
Before you had the thought that you are gaining too much weight, I want you to reflect on how you have been feeling. Inside of your body, how do you feel? It can also be helpful to list out your recent #wins! Or, reflect where you were last year on your journey to where you are today. This helps us see that outside of our physical body we are making a lot of great progress and we are actually feeling better on the inside of our body.
I also want you to reflect on the idea of gaining weight and what that means to you. Does it scare you? Make you feel uncomfortable? Where do these thoughts come from? For some of us these thoughts go way back to when we were kids and the comments others said about our bodies. They could have come from having family members that were always dieting and making comments about their weight. Having the understanding of where these thoughts originated from can help us untangle all of these thoughts we have about weight gain and what that means to us.
I want you to remember that your weight does not define who you are as a person. It’s actually the least interesting thing about you! There are so many more amazing qualities about who you are than what you look like. I challenge you today to jot down as many as you can think of. And then when you run out I want you to ask your friends and family to tell you something they love about you.
Lastly, remember, intuitive eating should feel good and that’s what we want to focus on! When you ask yourself how you feel the answer may be “I FEEL good.. Just not happy with the weight.” Then? That’s some mindset work and unpacking fatphobia that likely needs to be done. If you’re saying “UGH! I’m not eating in a way that makes me feel good!” or “I never move my body and it’s always huffin’ and puffin’!” Then? Ask yourself what behaviors can help you feel better. See how we didn’t focus on weight there?! That’s how you find your set point weight.
Here Are Some Action Steps To Take Today:
- Focus on how you feel. Do you feel like you’re honoring your hunger and fullness? Do the types of foods you’re feeding your body feel good?
- If not the best then think of 1 thing to focus on then reassess after you implement that. (more mindful eating, moving your body, etc)
- If you’re feeling ok then remember that’s what matters! If you’re struggling with body image checkout the body image workshop
- Think about what the idea of weight gain means to you. What internalized feelings and beliefs do you have around this? Are those true?
- Remember your why! What do you visualize when you think about your why?
- Write down all of the #wins and progress you have made since you started your Intuitive Eating journey.