Thursday, October 17, 2013

Overshooting Set Point Weight


In my previous post, I touched on the fear many of us recovering from eating disorders have about never regaining a normal metabolism. So I thought I would continue chatting about fears this week and attempt to discuss overshooting. Overshooting happens when an individual goes over their goal or set point weight during weight restoration. Obviously most of us fear gaining any weight at all, so the thought of gaining too much weight if oftentimes unimaginable.

Discussing this here is a bit of a slippery slope, however. The last thing I want is for everyone reading this to suddenly think their set point weight is higher than it needs to be; this overshooting thing doesn't happen in all cases.

Sometimes one of the most difficult parts of recovery is accepting the weight our bodies and treatment team would like us to be. And sometimes, due to each individual's body type, two people of the same height might have different goal weights, making this process even more complex. It would be so much easier if everyone had the same exact body type and metabolism; and there were specific numbers that were considered ideal weights based on height, but it doesn't work that way (and no, I do not think BMI is a useful measurement of anything).

To say attempting to figure out the body's healthiest weight after years of nutritional denial is a complex process is an understatement. The treatment center I went to used our pediatric charts, looked at our weight trends as adolescents, and then used those numbers to predict our goal weight, so I was lucky. But oftentimes I question how professionals go about deciding on a goal weight. Is it a shot-in-the-dark-and-hope-for-the-best type process? Maybe, and that's a scary thought.

My treatment team also taught us that each time the body endures a yo-yo, restrictive diet pattern, not only does the body regain the weight (and then some), it also increases the set point. Meaning the body will naturally settle at a higher weight each time.

I think the idea of having my set point weight go up even higher if I ever did fall back into disorder eating patterns has been one of my biggest motivators for maintaining my current weight. Not only would it be miserable to gain the weight again, but to have an even higher goal weight?! There's no way I could handle that. So although it is difficult to accept a new, higher weight, I always knew the alternative was way worse.

In the book Unbearable Lightness written by Porcia de Rossi, she confesses she overshot her set point weight by about 35 pounds before finding a healthy balance. However, I don't think overshooting is always that extreme. Typically I hear people overshoot their weight by about ten percent or less. I have even heard of some treatment centers that discharge their patients five pounds higher than they need to be as a precautionary measure.

As my mindset has gotten healthier, I have started to believe overshooting is actually better than undershooting. Eventually the body does even itself out at the weight it needs to be. If the body never reaches its healthiest weight, however, there is a much better chance of relapsing. I know a few people who have fought against their body's set point weight (which is easy to do, don't get me wrong!), only to find themselves binging or creating other unhealthy eating habits. 

I wish I could give you all a solution and a way to get over the fear of overshooting set point weight, but I don't think there is one. What it truly comes down to is letting go of every ounce of control the eating disorder has and allowing the body to repair itself. I have been at my set point weight for a full year and still fear gaining anymore weight, but maybe that's normal?


Yes, overshooting my set point weight has always been a fear of mine. Relapsing due to undershooting set point, however, is an even bigger fear.
And I hope many of you can start to look at it that way, too.

Progress.

10 comments:

  1. I was looking back on your old posts because it usually helps when i'm having a rough day in recovery I recently met with a dietitian for the first time yesterday and ever since have felt really down. I don't have a gallbladder so of course that was one of the issues addressed, but i feel like she overlooked the eating disorder part because when me and my parents left all i had was a list of things to not eat and a "clean" meal plan. Ever since I've felt pressured to live up to that meal plan but it took enough effort to get to a place where food was starting to not seem so black and white (good and bad) and now I feel like i'm back a square one. It sucks because I've been trying so hard to not restrict amounts and types of food like i did before, and i feel like the dietitian is telling me to go back to doing that. I'm so confused, and angry, and unsure of what to do because at this point i feel worse emotionally and somewhat physically, but I'm doing what she suggested. Any advice?

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    1. That's a really tough one and I can understand why you'd feel pressured to eat a certain way. The best advice I can give you it to possibly look into finding a new dietician if that one doesn't meet your needs. You know what you need to know and if eating "clean" foods makes you see things as black and white again then it might be time to look into other options. You don't have to listen to her if she is jeopardizing what you know is needed for your health. It might help to tell your parents or someone close to you how you feel first and then come up with a plan from there. Nothing is worth back tracking. Do what is best for you! Best of luck!

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  2. This post is so inspiring:) It's all about making that bridge from physically in reocvery to recovered. Often times when this gets overwheleming I think about how far that I have already come. After the amount that I have already gained physical and mentally, a few extra pounds should be nothing. I think the bottom line is that we all have to learn to stop controlling the body. Ultimately, things will even out the way they are supossed to, despite our continual fight. If we listen and learn to except the inevitible we can continue to become free from "ED":)

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    1. Yes, I agree the bottom line is learning to let go of that control and it's not easy, but it's necessary. And I agree a few more pounds beats living within the constraints of the disease. <3

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  4. Wow, I never knew this! Good to know. And yeah, I think there's something to be said about consistency in recovery and trusting our bodies. Your body knows what it's doing! Literally its job is to stay alive, so let go and let it heal itself. It's tough work, but it's worth it and will give you a whole new appreciation for how awesome the human body is.

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  5. Also, completely unrelated question, but how do you get your hair like that in your profile picture?? You have the most beautiful curls! Is that natural or can people with deadstraight hair like me ever achieve that? Haha.

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    1. It is tough work, absolutely. But it is also a pretty amazing process, like you said. The human body is so fascinating!
      ...My hair haha... Is also stick straight naturally. But a curling iron can do wonders! I also have leave-in overnight curlers that like to use sometimes.There is definitely hope for your hair, too! :)

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  6. Kelsi- I have been keeping up with your blog ever since I began treatment for anorexia last spring, and I cannot thank you enough for how much help and inspiration you have given me! This post came at a perfect time, for I have been going crazy over how awful I feel about overshooting my goal weight. Although my journey in recovery has seen many more ups than downs these past months, I cannot shake the fear of gaining too much weight nor can I feel like I am able to trust my body. Thank you for giving me hope that it gets better, and also for helping me to recognize what progress truly looks like. You are an amazing individual and I sincerely hope that you are doing well! (:

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    1. Aw thanks so much! Yeah, progress doesn't have to be perfect at all! And neither does the weight gain process. It's frustrating and honestly, I cried through most of it ha. But yes, it really does get better. Just keep pushing. Best of luck to you!! <3

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