Re-Setting My Setpoint

Back when I was in college, a read a newly published book by Dr. Gilbert Leveille entitled, The Setpoint Diet. The theory is that every one’s body has a set weight at which it wants to stay and which it will return to if you lose or gain weight. The book gives techniques on changing your setpoint. More than 25 years later, this is still a popular theory and the book is still in print. I don’t know if the science behind the theory bears it out or not, but for the most part, the suggestions on re-setting ones setpoint weight are generally good advice for weight-loss anyway.

I have wrestled with a weight-loss plateau now for over five weeks, so it’s time to admit that after getting half-way to my goal, I’ve stalled. I remembered the setpoint theory because it occurred to me that maybe my body has settled into a new setpoint and is not going to budge unless I do something different than I’ve been doing. When I look over the major ideas in the book, as summarized in this article, Set Point Diet, I find that I was doing them all in getting from my old weight to this new weight. Now I need to figure out how to tweak them for the next wave.

Reduce Calories Moderately

I was eating fewer calories as well as increasing my exercising. Recently, however, I find the nighttime munchies have returned. According to the setpoint theory, this is my hormones trying to regulate my fat cells to prevent me from losing any more weight. This part of the theory has been backed up by recent research. The website article The Setpoint Diet, provides this citation:

“A study published in the June 2004 “The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism” discovered that after losing weight, people’s levels of the hormone gherlin, which stimulates appetite, remained abnormally elevated, supporting the idea that the body has hormonal mechanisms in place to regain lost weight.”

I can’t really trick my brain, and I don’t believe that will power is really a factor, so I will have to change my behavior. With all the exercise I’m getting, I can afford a few more calories a day, but I need to choose those calories wisely. Instead of eating an extra serving of pasta or pizza at 10 o’clock at night, I need to have some healthy snacks on hand that will satisfy my craving without blowing my diet. A handful of nuts or a piece of low-fat cheese are better nighttime snacks.

Build Muscle Through Exercise

Since I started running, I’ve definitely added muscle, but I haven’t done any strength training per se. The running and walking helped me drop the first 25+ pounds, but obviously is not enough to launch my second wave of weight loss. It may be time to dust off my dumbbells and fit them into my routine or to add some pushups and crunches to my day.

Vary Your Routine/Increase Intensity

Running and walking, and increasing my running speed contributed tremendously to my weight loss so far, but eventually became a routine. Now it’s time to change things up. I’ve added fencing once a week, and now swimming once a week. What I really need to focus on now is increasing my intensity. I have been reluctant to do that because it is hard work! The article suggests doing intervals of greater intensity…so I could run faster on alternating half miles…or rather quarter miles as I’m exhausted just thinking about it!  As for swimming, I could alternate a more intensive freestyle every other lap instead of sticking with my more leisurely breaststroke.

Get Plenty of Sleep

I am now getting more regular sleep, no more waking in the middle of the night and tossing and turning. That was a good first step, but I am still not getting enough sleep. I will try getting to bed earlier than I have been and see if I still can sleep through the night. That is certainly a worthy goal.

Find the Joy in the Journey…and know when to mix-up your routine!