The hubby and I watched a few idle minutes of the ‘who’s eating who at the zoo’ channel the other night (a channel known perhaps better known to some by its more official title as “Animal Planet”) and caught the end of a show featuring extremely large animals. There was the liger Hercules (who I’ve actually seen at a renaissance faire thanks to the awesome folks from Tiger!) and a python over 50 feet long. There was a rabbit bred to be twice as large as normal rabbits and a poisonous toad. Then there were a few invertebrate creatures: a huge lobster and “colossal” squid. A phrase that kept cropping up during this segment of the show was “indeterminate growth”. The gist they were trying to convey with the phrase is that certain creatures, if left to their own devices in their own environments, have no little pituitary gland to give the brain a “Stop Growing” command and will continue to grow larger and larger throughout their lives; their growth is indeterminate.
Humans, however, DO have a pituitary gland. Our growth is NOT indeterminate. Unless there is a medical concern to address whereby something is NOT functioning correctly (in which case I encourage you to see a doctor, this is by no means medical advice here), there is not a free-for-all no-end-cap, the sky’s the limit on how large we can each grow, either in height OR girth.
So for anyone who has ever feared that if they ever once stopped dieting for more than that couple month or few weeks of the re-bound period that they might indeed just devour the world, resulting in gaining weight in a never-ending snowball effect, please stop the fear. We are not lobsters or squids. You will NOT just keep growing and growing and growing. I believe, from the data out there, that each individual has a set point at which their body will normally regulate their weight comfortably. After you body has become adjusted to and realizes that you will NOT in fact be trying to starve it into submission again it will stop sending all of those crazy-making constant “Craving ‘bad stuff’ signals” and settle back into the efficient naturally self-sufficient machine that it is. Now, the unfortunate part of this is that I can’t really account for (and science is just taking an interest in trying to find OUT) the affect all of this life-long yo-yo dieting behavior actually has in messing with your body’s natural set point and ability to self-regulate.
When the usual person drops off the latest diet of choice, be it “fad” or “Lifestyle Choice” in order to appease their sustenance demanding body (pesky old body, all knowing what it needs and demanding it and shit); the trend is to guiltily allow all those previously “forbidden fruits” back into their eating. After months without chips or ice cream, the cravings for all of those “bad foods” are intense…and now they are satisfied. But I think what always kicks people back ON to the diet phase, why people never progress past that rebound over-indulgence portion of the cycle except to get back on the diet-self loathing-rebel and rebound cycle of overeating or just plain old regular eating is that incredible FEAR that the post-dieting method of indulgence would become the norm. The fear that if you DON’T get back on a diet, you may NEVER stop re-gaining or gaining weight because you will eat everything in the world! It is a silly fear, but one that grips us very closely, especially as those pounds return and you feel more and more guilt for whatever you might be eating; feeling that no matter HOW much you are eating, it must not be the right amount, you must be over-doing it, you MUST be fore-going moderation somehow!! Oh noes!
Well you know what, I believe that our bodies are amazing. God and nature have worked together to evolve us into these wonderous creatures with bodies that run so efficiently, so well, allow for so much wonderful enjoyment of the pleasures of this world. If we listen, they will tell us EXACTLY what they need and how they’d like us to get it to them (though sometimes substitutions must be made if the body is saying to provide protein by means of top sirloin and all that is in the fridge is some cube steak, that’s okay). The shame is that this crazy trend of dieting, re-bound eating, guilt overwhelming, re-starting the diets is likely doing more harm to our health, not to mention our mental well-being, than simply letting our bodies be could ever do.
A bit of a ramble today, I know. We’ve gone from squids and lobsters to fears about humans growing non-stop if given the chance to post-diet rebound eating to guilt to restarting the diets to the amazing ability of our bodies to regulate themselves if allowed to do so. At the end of the day I think what we have to consider is that not only are people not invertebrates, we are also each different on an individual level. What is the normal experience for ONE person is NOT normal for another. The most difficult part of getting people to understand and, at the very least, accept that people come in a vast array of shapes and sizes, is getting through that personal lens through which we all view our world. It is difficult for a person who is naturally within the “normal” BMI ranges who barely exercises and eats junk food to believe that someone larger doesn’t do what they do, only MORE, in order to get that way. It is difficult for a dieter recovering from the latest body-denying starvation siege to see beyond their perhaps less than optimal food choices of the first few days to the more regulated pattern into which the body would settle afterwards.
We need to stop fearing that our bodies don’t know how to function on their own without our “controlling” them. I feel that doing so would allow us far greater physical health and an immense growth in mental health. Love the body you have. Accept that it will NOT just keep on growing and growing without stop, indeterminately. But perhaps the love you have for yourself and the respect you start to give to others regardless of their appearance could be like a lobster or squid and grow indeterminately. That would be something grand, don’t you think?
Just a bit of musing to add to your morning coffee break or afternoon brain-wrinkle gathering time.