On a Reddit thread about sustainable weight loss, a poster shared a method they’ve used to manage their weight over a long period of time. They established an acceptable weight range, with a ceiling weight of 145lbs. If their weight exceeded this limit, they implemented a period of active caloric restriction and weight loss until they returned to their ideal weight of around 130lbs. Once they reached this lower weight, they allowed themselves to resume their usual eating habits, and if/ when their weight creeped towards 145lbs, they restart the cycle.

At first glance, this might come across as yo-yo dieting, where an individual repeatedly sheds weight through strict dieting or extreme measures. However, although the scenario shares similarities with yo-yo dieting, it does not align with its true essence.

Setting a standard for a healthy weight and sticking to it isn’t necessarily a sign of disordered dieting. Instead, it reflects a conscious effort to maintain your physical well-being within a reasonable and sustainable range. Disordered dieting typically involves unhealthy patterns of extreme restriction, bingeing, or obsessive behaviours related to food and body image, which can lead to physical and psychological harm. On the other hand, setting a standard for a healthy weight involves healthy eating, regular exercise, and overall wellness practices aimed at supporting long-term health and vitality.

Packing on a considerable amount of weight is easy, and can happen in as little as a month.

Life happens fast and can have you against the wall squeezing in skinny jeans with sweat beading on your brow. Being conscious of this truth is more reason why you should set a boundary around your weight. When you think about it, we typically set boundaries —I hope you do too—in various aspects of our lives, serving as a yardstick for what we deem acceptable or unacceptable for us.

We typically accept that setting boundaries in different areas of our life helps us stay aligned with our values, priorities, and goals, for example:

Financial Boundaries: Establishing boundaries around spending habits, budgeting, and financial responsibilities helps prevent overspending, debt accumulation, and financial stress in relationships. E.g. following the 70-20-10 rule which comes from a book called “The Richest Man In Babylon.”

70% monthly income towards living expenses, 20% towards clearing bad debt and 10% towards savings.

Dating boundaries: setting boundaries that can help establish clear expectations, foster mutual respect, and create a healthy and fulfilling relationship dynamic. E.g. If your partner consistently misses five out of seven non-negotiables, and your intuition urges you to flee, promptly end the relationship and forge ahead. A broken engagement is better than a broken marriage.

Relationship Dynamics: Establishing boundaries around communication, respect, and expectations in relationships helps prevent conflict, fostering intimacy and a more fulfilling connection. E.g.- date nights fortnightly and no less than twice in two months.

Social media usage: Setting boundaries around our usage, such as limiting screen time, taking breaks from social media, or unfollowing toxic accounts, to maintain mental and emotional well-being and prevent comparison and overstimulation. E.g. aim to use social media between set hours and no use within an hour of waking and an hour before bed.

As you can see, there are strong reasons and advantages to establishing boundaries in our lives. Why then would setting boundaries around our health and wellness equate to yo-yo dieting? It’s similar to when you prioritise healthy eating habits and people label it as dieting.

It’s normal for weight to fluctuate if you’re living life without monitoring every morsel of food that enters your mouth. This is particularly true for us women, given the fluctuations in hormones and appetites from month to month. Moreover, considering the many responsibilities we carry, it’s easy to overlook our self-care.

Setting a “ceiling weight” can be beneficial when it comes to weight loss for a few reasons:

Clear Goal: A ceiling weight provides a clear and tangible goal to work towards. Knowing the maximum weight you are willing to reach can serve as a motivator to take action and make necessary changes to your lifestyle and habits.

Some people set a clothing threshold they’re unwilling to surpass. When they find themselves straining against the seams of their clothes, it serves as a clear signal to refocus on fitness and monitor their diet, along with other factors contributing to weight gain. The Body Mass Index (BMI) can be a helpful tool in finding your ideal weight, but it may not be accurate for taller or more muscular people. Saying that though, whether your BMI is high or low, regardless of your height or muscle mass, it’s simply a reminder to take a closer look and assess whether everything is on track or if you need to give more attention to the numbers. Calculate your BMI here: BMI calculator

 

Prevention of Further Weight Gain: By setting a ceiling weight, you establish a boundary beyond which you are not willing to allow your weight to increase. Each of us has an ideal weight, the optimal range that enables us to live out lives comfortably, without feeling restricted, to express ourselves freely through fashion choices, and to experience an overall sense of well-being in our own skin.

Early Intervention: Setting a ceiling weight allows for you to nip the unhealthy habits you’ve let slide if you notice your weight creeping towards that limit. It prompts you to take action sooner rather than later, making it easier to address any weight-related concerns before they become more challenging to manage. You needn’t wait for a sudden “Road to Damascus” moment, to prioritise your health and take action. If you find that you’ve gained some weight, consider incorporating evening walks after dinner into your routine and keeping an eye on your sleep and stress levels, as these factors can play a role in weight gain.

Accountability: Setting a maximum weight limit helps you stay accountable for managing your weight effectively.

It can be tricky gauging changes in our own weight because we see ourselves every day, making gradual changes less noticeable. Similarly, our loved ones may not always comment on changes in our weight, whether out of politeness or simply because they also see us regularly. Waiting for someone else to make a joke or comment about weight gain shouldn’t be the trigger for us to recognise that we may need to address our weight. Having a benchmark against which you can track your progress encourages us to be proactive and attentive to our own body, noticing signs of weight gain or changes in our health without relying solely on external feedback.

Motivation to Maintain: Once you reach your goal weight or stay below your ceiling weight, it can serve as motivation to maintain your progress and continue practicing healthy habits to prevent piling on the pounds.

Maintaining a healthy weight requires lifelong dedication. Establishing a ‘ceiling weight’ can help you sustain weight loss over time, offering ongoing motivation, and serving as a reminder of the significance of prioritising a healthy weight for overall well-being.

 

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