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|– Tim Alexander||– Judy Murphy|
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Setpoints. What are they in? How can we overcome them? I'm pretty sure almost every one of us has faced this at some point or another. We start a new way of eating or we start an exercise program. And in the very beginning, things are just wonderful. We're losing the weight we want to lose, we're gaining strength and we're getting where we want to be. Things are just wonderful and then they're not. What we're doing just stops working and we just kind of stabilize at a, at a weight or at a range of strength and we're just stuck there, this plateau and these plateaus can last weeks, months and even years. If we don't understand them and do something to change to adapt because our bodies are really, really good at stabilizing they're really, really good at saying, okay, this is where we are.
And there's basically three aspects to set points that I think people forget. They try to focus on just one or two of these. And they don't really get to the meat of what's going to help you break a plateau. This is your body, your environment and your mind. So I'm going to go through all three of these today and talk about why these affect your set point and what you can do about it. Okay. The first one's body, and it's kind of obvious, you know, the human body is meant to keep itself healthy. And to do that, it does a thing called homeostasis, which is basically balance. Now balance is really, really important in the body when we're talking about things like body temperature that has to stay within a very tight range or blood pH. It's like a very, very tight range. Or blood sugar.
Parts of our body basically adapt and they try to stabilize so that we can stay in a healthy state. And if it gets out of this state, then bad things happen. So how does that affect body weight? Well, body weight is also one of those systems. Our bodies were designed to store fat for famine. So we went through a period of feasting. Our body would allow us to put on this body fat for a future fuel for the times when food wasn't so plentiful cause our, our Hunter-gatherer ancestors didn't always have access to plentiful food. So they often would put on weight in the and, and in summer and fall when a plant matter and vegetables and fruits were much more abundant. And then when they weren't we would start to shed that body weight over the course of the next several months.
But if we started losing weight too fast, our bodies set wake would come in and say, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. You can't burn through all the fat that fast. We need to slow you down. And so your system start to change. And systems are basically all the things that are going on in your body to include the hormones, the, the catalyst for transactions for w there are happening in your body, their chemical reactions vitamins and minerals. Because your body is just basically this series of chemical reactions. And so if you're starting to lose weight too fast and your body senses that your hormones are going to adjust a and your body is going to start functioning differently if you have a professional athlete, women will see this a lot with professional athletes at the elite level. They start training really, really hard and they get their body fat percentage down to a very low number.
They do this because carrying weight, particularly in an endurance sport is costly. It slows you down. So losing a few pounds as an elite athlete could be the difference between winning and losing. So the women will get down to an extremely low body fat percentage and as a result they'll stop their period because their systems are basically telling them this is not a good time to rear children. If we're in a famine period, we're not going to have children. And the same kind of thing happens within the systems of men to It's just easier to explain this one because it's so apparent what's happening. But our body is a function of systems and those systems are always seeking to find that balance. And so if you've been eating a certain way and you start losing weight you body might stabilize and that's okay.
We just to have to put some strategies in place to try to break through that before I go too far down that rabbit hole of the body and talk about those solutions. Let's talk about the other two aspects of setpoint. So the second aspect of setpoint is environment. Now, every day we're in, we're in an environment of, of different things and some of them are very easy for us to notice, like the temperature of the room or if we're in an elevation, we might notice that the oxygen level is a little low. So if we walk out in the cold as many of you are experiencing right now and you're not wearing enough clothing, you're very likely to start shivering. That's, that's your body's reaction to your, your environment and it's, and it's very noticeable. If you're trying to do an endurance event and you move from from one elevation up to a much higher elevation, you may find that your performance drops.
And again, you can usually attribute that performance drop to your environment. So there are things in the environment that are definitely noticeable immediately. And then there's things that we don't notice, the chemicals, the, the pesticides, all those things that are out there in our food, in our household products. And then just general pollution. So I want to talk a little bit about that. There's a few that you know, I think are really, really important. One is the plastics, you know bisphenol a is in so many plastics and if you're heating and using those or allowing those to get warm, it's very likely you're taking in that chemical, which is a kind of an estrogen in our bodies. So it creates problems for us particularly for trying to get stronger or lose weight. So understanding if you're being exposed to things like that.
What's in your household cleaners? What's in your skincare products, what's in your hair care products? All those chemicals that we're applying to our body or using in our home they have the potential to disrupt our systems and as a result, send us into a kind of a cascade against the balance in the, in the wrong direction. So if we're trying to lose weight or get stronger and I'm going to keep going back and forth on those cause I think they're both very, very important. And I think you can do both at the same time. You're going to want to start paying attention to your environment. Another part of the environment that we don't pay a whole lot of attention to is light and UV rays. If we're not getting adequate sunshine during the day, which again, during the winter that's, that's a little bit tougher, then our bodies are not going to react the way that they should.
Our circadian rhythm is just not gonna flow the way that it should, which is going to disrupt our hormones. It's going to disrupt, potentially disrupt our sleep. So we might find that if we're not getting the sun, we're not getting the vitamin D, we're not getting all the different things that our body needs. So getting good natural light during the day turning off the computers earlier at night, all of those are environmental things that could potentially be disrupting your, your systems and, and if you're not taking care of those, very likely it is jeopardizing your performance and your ability to lose weight and get stronger. The final aspect of setpoint that I'd like to talk about is the mind. And you know, the mind is probably the most powerful aspect of the, of them all. Because if you don't believe you can do something, you absolutely can't.
It's just, you're not gonna be able to do it. So if, if you're stuck and you feel stuck and you say, well, I can't lose weight, I always lose weight and then I gain it back, you know, that mindset is going to hold you back. So if we're going to police our mindset, we've got to look at two things. The first is the things that we're listening to, things we hear, the things we see, the things we read. If you're on Facebook, reading all these articles about obesity and the crisis and how you know, this is making you fat and nights making you fat, and it's all that stuff's driving you crazy and it's, it's actually stressing you out. Stop. Just stop. The best way for you to know what's going to affect you is to just try it. Whole foods, natural foods, people will tell you, you can try this supplement or try that thing or take this pill.
None of going to be a longterm solution for you. So what's your listening to? What's your, what's your reading? What's your seeing? Let some of that go, you know, focus on the things that will definitely move the needle for you. You're in a plateau right now, and if that's the case, you need some action. You need to find that big rock as we say, and, and go ahead and start working on that. But if you're on all these little goose hunts about, should I be taking vitamin D, should I wait? Should I be vegan or wait? Should I, you know, drink eight glasses of water a day? If you're running around looking at all those tactics, it's very easy to get yourself lost in them and not really see which ones might be actually beneficial to you. You can't throw 13 things that at, at this at once and understand what's going on in your body.
It's just the too much and you don't, you can't parse through that data. There's too many confounders. So slow down. It's cool when you like to read and understand health and fitness. Believe you me, I'm reading about a book a week in health and fitness and I'm much more as far as I go on the internet and read blog posts and things that are going on there so I can keep kind of stay abreast of what's going on. But as it comes to applying it in my own life, I like to keep it simple. So I'm not necessarily acting on all of these activities and all these things that folks are talking about in their articles or to me personally, I try something. If it works, they use it. If it doesn't, I, I throw it out. And then finally within the mind, there's the inner dialogue.
How do you talk to yourself? What's going on in your head when things aren't going your way? You're in a plateau or you know, for weight loss. And so you haven't lost a pound and maybe even you went up a pound last week. And what's your inner dialogue telling you right now? Is it being nice to you? Is it, is it forgiving you? Because the step forward for any stumble at all is three. It's three things. The first is you have to forgive yourself. And then you have to come up with a plan of action to go forward. And then you have to act. And if you don't do all three of those, you're, you're destined to repeat exactly what you just did. So don't beat yourself up so much. Try to have a kinder, nicer inner dialogue. And if you find yourself, you know, not hitting a PR when you go to the gym every time, that's OK.
You're going to have good days and bad days. The fact is you were there and that's better than most. So look for the good of what you're doing and try to have a nicer, kinder inner dialogue. It's going to go a long way towards helping you be successful. So we have the body, we have the environment, and we have the mind where, where should we spend our time if we want the most bang for our buck. And I'd say, if your mindset's off, I would start there. I really would because if you don't have a good mindset, a lot of this stuff is just not going to happen for you. You don't, when my book, I go through wellness GPS and in there I'm very specific that you've got to have self-love to do this. You've got to make a commitment to yourself. You've got to want this really, really bad.
And when you do, then you have to just wake up and you gotta say, okay, self-awareness. You know what, what is going to hold me back? What has held me back in the past? Have I lost 20 pounds and then plateaued and then just gave up. And you know, pizza party for everybody is if that's how you've approached it in the past, you need to put in some strategies to kind of think about, well how do I reverse that trend? How do I not cause then I'm going to hit a plateau. It's going to happen. There's no way around it that, you know, any kind of changed. Your body is just not going to be linear. It's just going to balance out. It's going to plateau. That's what our bodies are designed to do. So if we want to break it, we gotta change it.
And so at some point we, we know we have to adapt, our body adapted. Now we have to adjust, adapt, adjust, adapt, adjust. And that's the path forward. So starting with the mind, get that right first. Now, once you're comfortable that you have a good mindset for what's necessary to break this plateau. Now we want to focus on the body. What are the tactics and things that we're already doing and are there any other tactics that we should consider doing? For example maybe a, I've lost down to a certain weight and I, and I want to lose a little bit more, but I'm not. And I say, okay, well, you know, I, I noticed that I pay attention when I drink milk. I feel a little bloated. And now that I've been having more milk I feel bloated more often. And so maybe the, I've got a problem with milk.
And so I said, okay, well I'm gonna eliminate dairy products for three to four weeks just to see if, if that makes me feel better. And low and behold, what you might find is three weeks slit, well eight are you weigh less and then you go ahead and you have a glass of milk or some cheese and boom, a pound hits the scale. You're like, Oh got it. I have an issue with dairy. And if that's the case, you probably in weight loss is your goal. You probably want to start eliminating dairy and keeping it out of your diet or at least keeping it to a very, very low amount such that you're not hampering your results. So, and maybe what I'm finding is I'm just not getting stronger and so it's time for me to mix my program up cause it's got kind of plateaued on my, my squad, I've kind of to it on my bench press.
So it's like, okay, well I'm going to go ahead and do now is I'm going to do more a weighted dips. I'm going to get on that leg press, I'm going to start pressing some really heavy weight. And I'm gonna start doing some front squats so I can really get my core strong. And by doing those things for a period of time, I'll cycle back around and find out my squat has now improved. And so periodization is what we call that in the weightlifting world. And so if you're, if you're stagnant, things are not happening. It might be to change up just your lifting programs. Something as simple as that, but your body is going to adjust and I mean adapt and then you adjust. And so when you do that adjustment, now you're putting your body into a different series of events and your body will likely change.
So that's the body. Now, the last one, the environment, those things that you know are around you. Let's eliminate those. You know, make sure you're getting good sleep. Make sure you're turning off the computer early enough. Make sure you're getting enough natural light as much as you possibly can to keep your body in good function and in a good circadian rhythm. If there's chemicals around your house, consider changing those out, get some, get some cleaner cleaners. You know a lot of people around here on this Island particularly like to make their own cleaning solutions and their own care, hair care and skin products. So that's not uncommon for people to do that with essential oils and coconut oil and things like that. Lemon juice and you know, vinegar, they make a lot of their own stuff and so that can come out to be a lot healthier for you in the long run.
The more of these chemicals that you can eliminate for your life because that might be one of those kind of like final things. It's probably not going to be your big rock initially, but at some point it might just be the reason that you're plateauing. So take the time to go through all three of these. That self-awareness practice that we do in the, in the wellness GPS is exactly geared for you to take the time to do this. So if you find yourself stagnant, it's time to pull that GPS back out and go through it one more time. Get yourself really set, get that self-love going and then start getting into the self-awareness of what do you think is actually the problem that's keeping you on this plateau. And then now you're ready to set some proper strategies to go forward.