Set Point Weight and Why Dieting Doesn't Work.


I’ve been pretty excited to discuss this next topic. I have been hearing a lot more about the concept of “set point” weight lately and want to dig into it a bit more.

For about 2ish years I have stopped dieting. I have stopped placing so much emphasis on what my body looks like. I have stopped trying to control everything regarding food and exercise and body image and purely learn how to listen to my body’s cues again. And guess what? I have been able to a discover my body's happy weight and maintain that for about a year and a half now. Something I never was able to do while partaking in extreme exercise, dieting, and sticking to an extreme schedule. I feel happy with myself, I no longer place worth on my weight, I eat the foods that naturally feel good to my body, and I partake in exercise that I love and that doesn’t feel forced.

Why when letting go of the deep desire to be a specific size...

Why when letting go of control...

Why when actually listening and trusting my body with food (something I was so afraid of doing before) ...

Is it that I am satisfied, content, and HAPPY… ?

2 things:

  1. Science tells us that our bodies strive to be at a specific weight set by our own bodies

  2. I have learned to identify the cause of my desire to look a specific way and have taken the worth out of my weight/body image.

So what does all of this mean and what does this look like for you??

First things first. Recent studies have shown that the diet culture is wreaking havoc on our bodies and that extreme dieting does not actually work for the long run.

But why?

Yo-yo dieting (constantly going on and off diets) can actually cause more harm than good over our lifetime. And while we can see results fast (especially with extreme carb restricting**) consistent on and off dieting can lead to cardiovascular damage, altered metabolism, and a lower functioning immune system.*

But what is the science behind the bodies reactions when we start our quest for weight loss and partake in food restriction and dieting? This is when we can start bringing in the body’s set point weight. It is best compared to the body’s desire to maintain a temperature of 98.6 degrees. When we sway from that in one direction or the other, the body naturally responds in order to get back to that desired temperature. This has been found to be the same concept around our body’s set point weight.

According to the article “Understanding Set-Point Weight,” in the March 2018 Fitness Journal for ACE Certified Professionals, Author Natalie Digate Muth explains, “Once a person reaches a set-point weight - also called ‘customary’ or ‘defended’ weight - the body tweaks its metabolic rate to maintain that weight despite dietary fluctuations.” This means that the body sends cues to help get back to that set point weight in the form of hunger and decreased energy. Which explains why dieting and losing a lot of weight up front works for the short term but over time finds its way back around.

I recently listened to a podcast with Samantha Skelly and her guest Jason Phillips. He explains that the best way to identify what our set point weight is is by taking note of our overall mood, how easily we are able to fall asleep/wake up, what our hunger cues are, noticing our sex drive, and how our energy levels are throughout the day.

If we can adjust those things in the form of food, we will eventually discover what our set point weight is.

So what does this mean??


We keep finding ways to manipulate what our body is asking for in the form of “my mind knows best” and listening to what everyone else is telling is to do for our bodies. If we take a step back and listen to our own body cues, we will ultimately discover what feels best for ourselves.

Understanding where your desire to lose weight is coming from and removing the value out of a specific size.

Reality is, your set point weight may not be the weight or size you see in the back of your head. So it is important to understand where the desire to become a specific size is coming from. Is it being driven from what society has deemed “worthy” or “acceptable?” Is it coming from a place of fear and longing to fit in? Is is from a lack of feeling good enough? By taking the time to understand why we are so longing to be a specific size can help us find another way to approach the way we feel about ourselves and to separate the self worth from a specific size.

Redefining what “healthy and fit” means to YOU.

This means taking notice and being curious about how YOU feel after consuming food and partaking in activity and then sticking to the things that bring you energy, happiness, and feelings of health. See how it feels to implement those things rather than listen to what everyone else is telling you do to and how to feel.


Yep. This is the tricky one. We are all looking for the quick fix or to see and feel results yesterday but in order to discover your body’s set point weight you have to be patient. However, learning how to listen to your body’s own cues and knowing what they mean is a much more freeing way to live rather than trying to calorie count and exercise your life away.

The money hungry health and fitness industries CONSTANTLY shove messages of “to be the size and body type we have deemed appropriate and worthy and good enough, you must do this workout or eat this food.” But enough is enough. I am TIRED of the inappropriate, degrading comments. I am TIRED of the “booty blasting,” “ab flattening,” “thigh touching”
“beach body,” “you shouldn’t eat this food” shaming kind of language.

What would it feel like to stop listening to everyone else telling you exactly how to live your life? What would it feel like to discover what works best for YOU and your body? What would it feel like to no longer be controlled by food and exercise?

Guess what? You get to decide all of these things.

How would it feel to go for it?



*ACE's Essentials of Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals pg 193

** “When carbohydrates are severely limited, carbohydrate stores (glycogen) become depleted, water and thus water weight is lost. As soon as the dieter replaces the glycogen stores (or goes off the diet), the water weight will once again be retained” -- ACE's Essentials of Exercise Science for Fitness Professionals pg 193