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Balance365 Life Radio

May 15, 2019

Following our recent podcast with Dr. Traci Mann, Balance365 Life radio listeners had additional questions about the weight set point theory. In this quick solo episode, Jen Campbell attempts to answer these questions, providing additional clarification and hope for listeners as they explore the messy middle.  


What you’ll hear in this episode:

  • What is weight set point theory?
  • Does everyone agree with weight set point theory?
  • What is the difference between physiological and psychological pushback to weight loss
  • Why habits of convenience are easier to integrate
  • Questions to ask yourself to help determine if you are overweight
  • Lifestyle setpoint - what it means to you
  • Seasons of life and how they impact weight
  • How stress can affect your weight
  • What Dr. Sharma and Dr. Freedhoff have to say about determining if you are at a healthy weight



Secrets From The Eating Lab book

53: Secrets From The Eating Lab: Dr. Traci Mann

Dr Sharma and Dr Freedhoff paper

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Annie: Welcome to Balance365 Life radio, a podcast that delivers honest conversations about food, fitness, weight, and wellness. I'm your host Annie Brees along with Jennifer Campbell and Lauren Koski. We are personal trainers, nutritionists and founders of Balance365. Together we coach thousands of women each day and are on a mission to help them feel healthy, happy, and confident in their bodies, on their own terms. Join us here every week as we discuss hot topics pertaining to our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing with amazing guests. Enjoy.

Jen: Hey everyone. Welcome back to another episode of Balance365 Life radio. For those who don't know me, I'm Jennifer Campbell, one third of the founding members of Balance365. Today is going to be a quickie, but also a pretty big topic. Are you overweight? And I don't mean where do you fall on the BMI scale because that is not a measure of health. It's a measure of size. I mean, are you above a weight that is healthy for you? We did a podcast a few weeks ago with Dr Traci Mann, author of Secrets From The Eating Lab. In that episode we did a deep dive into weight set point theory. That's episode 53 if you want to go back and listen. Weight set point is a theory that says our bodies have a programmed and largely predetermined weight range where we function best. When we try to live outside of this, our body will fight to get back to that range.

The feedback we got from that podcast in and outside of our community is that it was depressing. For many women they felt as if it meant the body weight they are at currently is what they are destined to be the rest of their life. So we want to clarify. It's important to note that while there's plenty of evidence for weight set points, there's also critics. One of the most vocal critics is Doctor Yoni Freedhoff, an obesity medicine doctor here in Canada. If you follow us on social media, you'll know we have been slightly stalkerish lately, publicly asking him to come on our podcast. He speaks often of the psychological aspects of weight loss and the resistance that people have to change and how that is actually what's keeping people at higher weights than what is healthy for them. As usual, I want to invite you to explore the messy middle of weight setpoint theory with me.

The tricky part of this discussion is that I know people crave black and white answers, but we cannot provide them. Nobody can. You are not a mathematical equation. You are a complex human being with your own unique genetics environment, lived experience, stressors and set of habits. What's right for you may not be right for the next woman and that's okay. So do we have a physiological weight setpoint? Absolutely. Just ask any bodybuilder about their experience getting down to unhealthy levels of body fat for competitions. That's a temporary state they're in for a few hours and their bodies are fighting it. But do we also have a psychological pushback? Yes, we totally do. And just because you find yourself resisting a new behavior doesn't mean your body is at its healthiest weight. It means your brain is like, "Hey, this is hard. Let's not do this." Human beings are wired to conserve energy, which is why habits that make your life more convenient solidify so quickly.

So let's get back to the main issue. Are you overweight? We want you to look beyond the charts and graphs and instead look inside yourself. Today I have a series of self reflection questions for you. Here they are. Number one, do you struggle with the all or nothing mentality and the all or nothing behaviors that follow? Number two, do you have chaotic eating habits? Number three, do you have binge eating episodes? Number four, do you graze on food? Number five, do you frequently eat out of habit rather than due to hunger? Number six, do you frequently eat until you are stuffed? Number seven is emotional eating something you find yourself struggling with? Number eight, do you have poor sleep habits? Number nine, do you eat out regularly or do processed slash refined foods make up a large part of your overall diet? Number 10, does life feel very stressful?

That could be your job, your relationship, financial stress, trauma, et cetera, and number 11 are you mostly sedentary? If you found yourself nodding along to this list, then you might, fine print, might be at a weight that is higher than your natural healthy weight range and honestly, it wouldn't be uncommon to find someone who answered yes to every question. To what degree a person is overweight, I don't know. That probably depends on how long the behaviors have existed and to what frequency they show up day to day. For example, if you find yourself emotionally eating a bag of chips once in a while it probably has had no effect on your weight or your health, but if you find yourself emotionally eating high energy foods every single day, then yes, it probably has had an impact on your weight and your health. So for you to change that behavior would likely result in weight loss.

In the spirit of being in the messy middle, as we always are, at Balance365 we like to say "lifestyle set point" and that's because it acknowledges that there is a range of weights that are healthy for each person and that that range can change. So people are going to go through different seasons of life where the weight range that is healthiest and possible for them is different from the next. What your weight is when life feels easy may not be what you weigh when life feels hard and that is okay, it doesn't mean you are unhealthier and it doesn't mean you have less value. You can't necessarily control your weight, but you can adjust your behaviors during seasons of life to care for yourself in the way you need. We have to accept that sometimes the way we need to care for ourselves, the healthiest path for us in that time could also involve a weight fluctuation and maybe that's up or down.

What we know undoubtedly is that the behaviors we use to achieve any weight loss must be done forever or the weight will come back. That's why working on habits, not diets is so important and that you choose those changes because you enjoy them or at least can accept them as part of your life forever. And lastly, I want to leave you with just two more questions. And this came from a paper by Dr Sharma and Dr Freedhoff and Dr Freedhoff, I had mentioned earlier, he's an obesity medicine doctor in Canada out in, I think it's Ottawa and Dr Sharma is also an obesity medicine doctor in Edmonton. And in this paper they have two questions to help people determine if they are at the right weight for them or not. And number one is, can you eat less calories than you are now while still enjoying your life?

Number two, can you exercise more than you are now while still enjoying your life? If the answer is no to both of these questions, then you're there. If it's yes, then you'll likely see more fat loss if you make the changes. And I thought that was just so beautifully simple. I hope this podcast was helpful and maybe a little eye opening. Either way, we please leave us a review on iTunes. We appreciate them so much and I know Annie, when we're doing our longer podcast, she is always looking at the reviews and reading out the new ones. Alright, thanks everyone. Bye. Bye.

Annie: This episode is brought to you by the Balance365 program. If you're ready to say goodbye to quick fixes and false promises and yes to building healthy habits and a life you're 100% in love with, then checkout to learn more.