May 1, 2020

Set-Point Weight Theory As a Retired Athlete

How do you know your set-point weight in life after sport…and what even is set point weight?

Ever wonder, how much you should weigh as a former athlete? I get this question from former athletes all the time…how do I know how much I “should” weigh once I retire? Because chances are, it’s different than how much you weighed as an athlete. Watching your body change and feeling like you have no control over it can be challenging and honestly…devasting…I feel you because I have been there.


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Cue the diets, restrictive eating and excessive workouts! Right? You figure, okay well, I’m not working out as much anymore, so clearly that means I shouldn’t eat as much. I’ll just cut back a little (or a lot). And maybe I’ll try and get an extra workout in or two throughout the week. Sure, that’ll work! Then I’ll finally feel good in my body.

But…that’s not usually how to goes down. So you work out more and start to eat less but you’re not seeing the changes you hoped for. Yep, I’ve been there too. What I didn’t know was that trying to control and manipulate my body was actually doing more damage than anything. 

I started my intuitive eating journey as a former athlete because I could not take another day of feeling so miserable in my body. I was constantly fighting it and I was never winning.

When I started my intuitive eating journey, I heard about the set-point weight theory, but brushed it off. I really believed, especially as a dietitian, that this number I had in mind was my true “ideal” weight, and I needed to do everything I could to reach that weight. Did you know, that only about 10% of people who lose weight with dieting actually keep it off for over a year? That’s because dieting causes our body to think we are starving. And therefore decides to keep a little extra weight, just in case! Just in case it doesn’t get enough food.

So…what is a set point weight?

Set point weight is the weight you can maintain effortlessly, feel your absolute best at, AND where your body functions optimally. That last part is super important. It’s the weight you can live without needing to manipulate what you eat, how much you move, counting, tracking or measuring. It’s easy to maintain, and where you feel most comfortable mentally AND physically. Your body’s “happy place”.

What impacts set point weight:

1.     Genetics

2.     History of dieting

3.     Metabolism

4.     Energy intake/expenditure

5.     And so much more

It’s multifactorial that is for sure!

Okay, so how do you know if you’re at your set point weight or not? Ask yourself a few questions…

1.     Are you intentionally limiting the amount of food you eat? Either by tracking or counting?

2.     Do you stress about missing workouts because you’re fearful you’ll gain weight?

3.     Do you feel like you’ve lost your hunger and fullness cues?

4.     (For former female athletes) Have you lost your period? This is a big one.

5.     Do you feel uncomfortable in your body?

Chances are, if you’ve answered yes to any of those, you’re not at your set point weight.

No worries, I’ve got you! Here are my top three tips to help you find your set point weight!

1.     Ditch the tracking devices. This is HARD (Don’t I know it!). But it is oh so necessary to find that sweet spot where your body desires to hang out at effortlessly. Where you can eat, drink, and move without stress.

2.     Use the Hunger & Fullness scale! This is your best friend when working to find your set point weight because it allows you to truly fuel your body optimally! To give it food when it needs it and to avoid overeating. If you aren’t feeling hunger and fullness cues yet, focus first on providing your body with consistent, adequate fuel.

3.     Stay off the scale…for a while. Like several months. See where your body naturally falls when you stop trying to restrict and manipulate things. I know, I know…this sounds terrifying! Trust me here when I tell you, you may just be surprised by the result.

Okay, so that is all the dish on set-point weight theory! It’s also important to remember that when finding your set point weight you may overshoot at first (this is normal). The freedom is in NOT stressing and knowing your body will find it’s most optimal place once we stop trying to manipulate it.

Grab my Hunger Hacks & Full Your Fullness in Life After Sport Guide HERE!

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