I don’t like the unknown. Never have, never will. It always brings about anxiety and dread. Such was the case when I started intuitive eating. There are many unknowns with IE, but the one that made me worry the most was my weight. I feared that I would put on pound after pound with no end in sight, but logic told me that my weight would settle eventually. Because my weight had been the focus of my eating disorder, this was not an easy feeling to sit with while I waited for my body to sort out this mess.
Everyone’s body has a natural weight and this concept is the basis for set point theory. Your set point is the weight where your body feels most comfortable and maintaining that weight is done without any effort. It is your healthy weight and not one determined by a BMI chart at the doctor’s office. Instead of subjecting our bodies to extreme weight loss behaviors, our lives consist of nourishing our bodies and incorporating a reasonable amount of movement.
After years of restriction, I started IE with the knowledge that I was below my natural weight. I worried about where my weight would stabilize and about the day when I would have to buy new clothes. When I did start adding some much needed weight, I initially felt like a failure. If only I had more willpower, I’d still fit into those clothes!1 Eventually, I accepted those few pounds and began to appreciate my fuller face and figure after finally seeing how skinny I was in old pictures. Even though putting on weight freaked me out, I had to deal with it because I knew my health depended on it.
Because I was so scared of what my natural weight would be, I went through a phase where I had a minor obsession with set point theory and researched.2 A lot. I learned a few things and gained some insight while on my journey. Here are 7 little facts and pointers that I would like to share with you:
- Your body wants to be at its natural weight. Your body will fight. If you starve it, it will slow your metabolism. If you give it too much fuel, your metabolism will increase.3 Attempting to change your natural weight would be like trying to change your shoe size. Resisting is pointless.
- Your weight will fluctuate. IE is a dynamic process, so your weight may fluctuate for a bit before you find your natural weight. It may even fluctuate once you’ve found your natural weight. This is normal. Remember that even though it’s called “set point”, it’s really a range that your body feels comfortable at rather than an exact number.
- Put weight loss on the back burner and break up with the scale (or at least temporarily). Even though one of the easiest ways to put weight loss on the back burner is to get rid of the scale, it is one of the hardest to put into practice. I did it through baby steps because the scale had been part of my life for so long that tearing myself away from it was no easy task. One big factor in why I stopped weighing myself was because eventually the number on the scale became relatively stable. My body had found its natural weight and I felt like I didn’t need the scale anymore to guide me.4
- Self-talk is important. But not negative self-talk! Be kind to yourself during this process. IE is hard. Giving up dieting is hard. Acceptance is hard. Pay attention to the words in your head. Rather than let your self-bully destroy your self-esteem, you could tell yourself something like, “My body is smart and will find its natural weight.” Try to make your self-talk positive or, at the very least, neutral.
- It’s all about trust. Dieting offers a sense of control, but letting go of that control will allow you to trust your body again. You will begin to have faith in your body’s signals and your weight will plateau once your body reaches its natural weight. If your body needs to lose or gain weight, intuitive eating will guide it there.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. Your natural weight is unique to you. Find the beauty within yourself and let go of the thin ideal that our society shoves at us. Comparing yourself to others will only affect your mental health but not in a good way.
- Everyone’s time frame is different. As with IE in general, there is no set amount of time that it takes to go through this process. I completely understand that you want to know when you’ll be at your natural weight, but no one can answer this for you because we’re all different. Just remember that no matter how long it takes, your body will get there.
We all have a natural weight and this cannot be changed. We can engage in behaviors that lead toward health, but, in the end, we cannot control the size of our bodies any more than we can control our height. The way I look at it, if I am eating and moving in a way that is satisfying to my body, then I’m doing something right. Because I can now maintain a relatively stable weight without effort, I know that my body has found its happy place.
Are you still on a quest to find your natural weight or do you think you have found it? Please share in the comment section below.
1Not true, by the way! Our natural weight is our natural weight. It’s about biology rather than willpower.
3But much to the chagrin of dieters everywhere, our bodies are much more lenient when consuming more fuel than if we’re deprived. Our bodies would rather have too many reserves than too few.
4I’m not saying that I have never stepped on the scale again because, honestly, I’m human and get curious from time to time. The difference is that it is no longer an obsession. I’m okay with whatever the number is because I’ve made peace with how I look.
Thank you so much for reading my blog! I am honored that you chose to read about my experience.
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