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Re-Setting Weight Loss

There was a time when short term weight loss was an acceptable consolation prize for a month or two of starvation. You may have eaten everything in sight at your high school reunion, but you looked fabulous. However, with strong links being established between weight cycling (weight going up and down), slowed metabolism and heart disease, consumers are now finding the physical, personal and economic costs of temporary weight loss too high a price to pay.

The reasons for this weight-loss-and-gain phenomenon are not completely clear. However, a landmark study of Danish adoptees showed that when both parents were obese, the likelihood of their offspring also being obese shot up to 80%.

The Set Point Theory

The set point theory is also being looked at as a possible explanation for weight fluctuations. The set point theory suggests that, just as bodies regulate such things as fluid levels, blood pressure and temperature, they also have a desired weight they prefer to maintain. If you've ever tried to get below a certain weight, only to have it creep back up, or, if your weight seems to stay the same no matter what you do, you may be experiencing the metabolic controls that seem to support set point.

More recently, researchers have been delving into the impact that dieting history can have not only on body size, but also on metabolic rate, ease of weight loss and regain and taste preference for fat.

Here's what has been learned so far:

  • Frequent dieting makes it more difficult to lose weight. 
  • Frequent dieting makes it easier to gain weight.
  • Metabolic rate slows with frequent dieting.
  • Frequent dieting may be a setup for post-diet high fat eating.
  • Frequent dieting may lead to greater levels of upper body fat (an apple-shaped body) which is associated with higher blood pressure and increased cardiac risk.

Working on the assumption that, for some people, a larger body may be the natural, "more preferred" size, it may actually be detrimental to intercede with weight loss regimens that will only encourage the body to work harder to defend this higher weight.

Giving Up Dieting
So, armed with this information about the complexity of the weight loss picture, should you just give up on dieting and exercise? Give up on dieting - definitely yes! Give up on healthy eating and exercise - definitely no.

To whatever extent genetics determines how you store and lose fat, the body you've been given wants to be appreciated and treated well, even if being thin is not in its future. Exercise and low-fat eating are two of the most important ways that you can help to make your body healthier.

Focusing on pleasurable activity and nutritious foods helps you feel good for who you are; not what size you wear.

While there is no way to predict exactly how your body will respond when you adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors, it is safe to predict that some changes will occur: Only time will reveal what those changes will be for you.   

As always – Live Your Life Well,

John Aaron Villarreal

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The content and information on this site is not intended to diagnose,
cure, treat or prevent disease. Please consult your physician
prior to starting any exercise or diet program.


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