Homeostasis and set-point weight is a process that our bodies settle into as it gets used to the changes that we’ve made to successfully lose weight.
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If you think you are experiencing homeostasis or set-point weight, ask yourself these questions.
- Have I stopped losing weight after many months of successful weight loss?
- Have I made any changes to that weight loss routine during those months?
If you have stopped losing weight after many months of weight loss success, there is a good chance your body is experiencing homeostasis and set-point weight.
If you have not made any changes to your routine, a routine that has resulted in weight loss success, your body may also be experiencing homeostasis and set-point weight.
In this post I will discuss what homeostasis and set-point weight are, my experience with both, and what steps you can take to get the scale moving again.
What is Homeostasis.
What is homeostasis in regards to weight loss?
Let’s break it down.
As defined by the Encylopedia Brittanica, Homeostasis is any self-regulating process by which biological systems tend to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions that are optimal for survival. If homeostasis is successful, life continues; if unsuccessful, disaster or death ensues. The stability attained is actually a dynamic equilibrium, in which continuous change occurs yet relatively uniform conditions prevail.
When it comes to weight loss, homeostasis is our body making adjustments to the changes we’ve made to lose weight (calorie restriction, increased workouts, and even intermittent fasting) in an attempt to regain, as stated above, its equilibrium.
At its core, our body wants to maintain a certain balance, a certain level of peace, an equilibrium. And, for a time, our body will be OK with the changes that we’ve made, changes that have indeed result in weight loss. However, at a certain point, it will adjust its own processes to adapt to the changes we’ve made to lose that weight in order to achieve that balance, that equilibrium.
It will recognize that peace and balance are being disrupted (weight loss) and will adjust accordingly (slowing your metabolism), all in an attempt to save our life.
We see this adjustment occur when we stop losing weight after several successful months of weight loss.
It’s the dreaded weight loss plateau.
Homeostasis is what it is.
Weather you’re counting calories, working out more or even intermittent fasting, you can experience homeostasis.
As an intermittent faster, I too experienced homeostasis. What happened when I experienced homeostasis and had difficulty losing weight is exactly as described above.
My body got used to my schedule (eating, workout, intermittent fasting schedule), my metabolism slowed and I stopped losing weight.
For a good long while, while I was losing weight, I ate the same, my workouts looked the same, and my intermittent fasting schedule did not change.
By maintaining that status quo, even though I experienced weight loss with the intermittent fasting schedule I was following, the food I was eating, and the workouts I was completing, after a good while of doing this, my body caught up.
As it turns out, if you don’t keep your body on its toes, your body will start making assumptions about what it thinks is going on and will start implementing processes to halt your progress.
Will this last forever?
No, but it can last for quite some time (that was my case). Fortunately for those of you like me, there are steps we can take to get that scale moving again!
Change it up.
Homeostasis can happen when we become too consistent.
While consistency is great, it might not be so great to keep the same day to day protocols (fasting, food, exercise) when it comes to losing weight. Sometimes, if not all the time, that consistency will catch up with you and halt your progress.
Change is a good thing. For your mind AND your body.
A few ideas for change that might get your scale moving again:
- Check your food. If you’ve been eating the same menu for the duration of your weight loss, maybe it’s time to make a change?
- Change your workout. When I changed my workout routine from cycling to running, I started seeing results on the scale again. Hate running and prefer to walk, pick up the pace every few minutes to activate those muscles and get that heart pumping just a little more.
- Check your schedule. Look at when you eat. Are you snacking at night? Eating first thing in the morning? Make adjustments.
- Check your favorite beverages. Coffee drinks anyone? Maybe it’s time to adjust your favorite coffee drink to something a little less filling.
- Check your alcohol consumption.
Making the change with intermittent fasting.
As an intermittent faster, if you’re stuck on a weight loss plateau, the first change that you would make is a change to your intermittent fasting schedule.
Sometimes adding a few additional hours to your daily fast might be all it takes to see that scale moving again.
A few additional ideas may include:
- Include an extended fast to your schedule once a week.
- Switch to alternate-day fasting.
- Check your fast. Is it clean? Are you adding something to your fast that might be stalling your success?
- Check your feast? Are you noshing more than you should in your eating window?
Sometimes, making even the smallest change can have a dramatic affect.
Read More: Intermittent Fasting Schedules Defined.
Changes I made to see progress on the scale.
To date, I’ve hit two separate plateaus. My first plateau happened after I lost 15 pounds, and my second plateau happened after I lost another 15 pounds. (I guess 15 is my magic number?) As of today, with 25 more pounds to lose, I am still sitting atop my second plateau.
While it may seem discouraging, I do have a plan to get that scale moving and to lose that 25 pounds.
First, let’s take a look at what worked for me when I broke my first plateau.
Change the schedule.
As mentioned above, I am an intermittent faster. That means that I don’t eat for a specified amount of time every day and only eat within a defined period of time (eating window) within a 24 hour cycle.
The intermittent fasting schedule that I started my intermittent fasting journey with was the 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule. This schedule has me fasting for 16 hours with an 8-hour eating window.
I quickly lost 15 pounds when starting this schedule. However, once my body got used to my plan (homeostasis) I stopped losing.
In order to get that scale moving again, like most intermittent fasters, I decided to make adjustments to my schedule. I decided to change my intermittent fasting schedule to an 18/6 intermittent fasting schedule. This stretched my fast by two hours.
It worked. I lost another 15 pounds in about 4 months.
Then, of course, another plateau.
Right now, as of November 4, 2020, I am still sitting atop my second plateau. While I could make changes to my intermittent fasting schedule, I have decided that I want to test out a few theories to see if those theories will result in a loss of weight before I start making changes to my schedule.
Because I like my 18/6 schedule and don’t really want to extend my fast at this point in time.
Those changes include:
- Reducing my alcohol consumption.
- Creating consistency with my intermittent fasting schedule.
- Reducing/eliminating my mindless noshing during my eating window.
I just posted my Month One results based on these changes and I was a little surprised by the results. Take a read and see how I did!
Extremes are bad!
We all know this. We all know this. We all know THIS!
Extremes are bad.
Fasting for DAYS without medical supervision. BAD.
Severely restricting what you eat during your eating window. BAD.
Working out intensely for hours. BAD.
Extremes taken in an effort to lose weight WILL NOT END WELL!
MORE is not always better.
Extremes are not sustainable and ALWAYS end badly.
Set point weight.
Before I end this post, I want to talk a little about set point weight.
Setpoint weight is a theory that our bodies get used to a certain weight that we are at and it will do whatever it can to maintain that weight.
For example, I’ve been hovering at 157 for a long time.
If you take a moment to read my Month One Results, I talk about using the Happy Scale App and a little worksheet that I created to track my daily weigh-ins. (It was an amazing learning experience!)
When I look at my Happy Scale App, the number on the scale is always about the same, 157ish. You will see days that I’m a little above 157 and some when I am a little below, but I always seem to hover that 157 mark.
Let’s take a quick look at Weeks 2-4 of my Month One results. Do you see a pattern? Currently, I seem to hover around that 157 mark, and have for many months.
I like to think about the set-point weight as a branch that’s hard to break. You hold up the branch, you use all your might, you bend it and bend it and bend it, and after much work, and maybe a few sweat beads, the branch finds its breaking point and finally snaps in half.
That’s the same idea when it comes to set-point weight. Your body hangs on to that weight with all its might, but after so many positive adjustments to your fasting schedule, what you eat and maybe some exercise, your body finally gives in (finds it’s breaking point) and loses a bunch of weight.
Breaking your set point weight.
Like homeostasis, breaking the never-ending cycle of a weight that just doesn’t seem to budge is similar to breaking that weight loss plateau. The difference is that you need to remain at a new weight for a significant amount of time to allow your body to “reset” to a new set point weight.
In theory, I would like to reset my set point weight to 130 pounds.
Yes, I still have to GET to 130, but once I get there, and settle in at that weight, my body should soon catch up and lock in a new set-point weight.
For those of us trying to lose weight, homeostasis and set-point weight can cause much frustration.
From trying to determine if our weight loss plateaus are due to homeostasis and set point weight, to trying to determine how to break the plateaus caused by homeostasis and set point weight, it’s clear that homeostasis and set point weight have solidified their place in the frustration of our weight loss journeys.
If you are struggling due to homeostasis and set point weight, don’t fret. Take some time, review your current process, make changes and go from there.
Follow my Progress.
Don’t forget the visit my Month One results post! I talk about that worked in terms of my weight loss and what steps I’m going to take in Month Two to help get that scale moving!
- Are you interested in intermittent fasting but don’t know how to get started? Read my 5 Easy Steps to Start Intermittent Fasting post and get started today!
- Is it safe to workout while intermittent fasting? Check out my Is working out while intermittent fasting safe? to find out!
- Sometime si just like to share random tips that make big impacts. Read up on my 2 Budget Tips – Never Go Over Budget Again!
Disclaimer: The information in this email is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the stuckassdown blog.