A young woman timidly yet bravely weighs herself after having eaten a non fat-free muffin the day before. This muffin was her only digression from what she has been led to believe is a healthy diet; low fat, low calories, low sugar, low carbs, low everything, including low enjoyment. Yet, when she looks down, she feels horrified as she reads a number a full three pounds higher than she read the morning before. She's not premenstrual and she ate very little the day before. So where did this weight come from? The muffin, she concludes. The damn muffin. Quickly, then, the "damn muffin" turns into the "damn weakness in her," and she begins to administrate a self imposed beating which she believes will help motivate her to "lose the weight."
Later that day, she sits with friends at lunch eating nothing but a few celery sticks and when asked why she is eating so little, she tells them she gained three pounds. Gained three pounds from a four ounce muffin? Is this possible? Of course not. Simple physics tells you that. Yet everyday, people attribute weight changes numbering in the pounds to some few ounces of candy or a muffin or a small dessert.
What is all this insanity?
For one thing, many people today have an obsession with weight as a number, as in the lower the number, the better the person. Somehow health and in particular weight has become equal to one's worth as a person. For another, few people actually question which experience has more affect on a person's health; the so called improvements one makes in one's diet and exercise or the self hate one heaps on oneself during these painful processes. Does one cancel out the other? Surely they both affect peoples' health. So why do most people ignore this self hate? Perhaps because so many educated and otherwise loving people fail to question the truth here, let alone test these beliefs for themselves. And because many simply pass to others these hate filled messages, all in the name of helping people they care about to better their "health."
Let me start dispelling these ideas with a simple truth; "health" is never the result of hate. You can not "hate" your body into health. More important, I seriously doubt whoever created us intended we change what is in essence, a wonderful part of life; eating and fitness; into a painful, life long hell.
What is the truth then? To know, you need to stop assuming "the experts" know more than your own body and begin to question these things for yourself. What follows, then, is a simply, easy way to test these beliefs for yourself. All it requires is a modicum of courage, a brief commitment, and an open mind. Sound hard? It's not really. In fact, compared to the pain involved in most weight loss diets and exercise plans, it's a breeze. All it requires is that you weight yourself once a day and record the number on a chart.
What do you end up with? A map of your "weight ranges." And what exactly do I mean by "weight ranges?" Let me start to explain by showing you an actual example.
A Sample "Weight Range" Chart
What you see above is a "weight range" chart, in this case, a chart for a typical man. What exactly does this chart represent? To know, begin by noticing the  four elements which make it up, beginning with the flesh colored areas which look like a sequence of  "walls" and  "hills." Now notice the  red "floor / ceiling" pointers above each wall and  the weight numbers which sit above these pointers.
What do these four elements represent? For one thing, they simply represent how much this man has weighed at different times in his life. More to the point, though, they also represent two other things; the varying levels of difficulty this man would experience if he were to try to change his weight within the weight ranges represented (within the overall range of weight from 165.5 to 186), and the varying levels of difficulty this man would experience if he were to try to maintain his weight within the weight ranges represented. Thus, if this person weighed anywhere in the weight range beginning with 169 and ending with 172, and if he wanted to weight less, he would literally hit a wall of difficulty at 169, a point at which he would find it more difficult to lose weight. But if he were to want to remain within this range, he could use his awareness of these two walls, at 169 and at 172, to help him to keep his weight within this range.
These two points then and the area in between (169 - 172) represent one of this person's "weight ranges," a defined area within this man's body weight wherein he will experience a tendency to stay.
What if this person currently weighed in the range from 165.5 to 169 and wanted to gain weight, for instance, what if he was a body builder? In this case, he would again hit a wall of difficulty at 169. However, this time this wall would make it more difficult to gain weight, meaning, he would have to apply more effort to reach 170.5 than to reach 168.
Did I saying he would have a harder time gaining weight than losing it? In this case, yes, this is exactly what I am saying. Thus, these walls of difficulty affect attempts to change weight in either direction, both to gaining weight and to losing weight. For this particular man, then, changing his weight above or below 169 would be harder to do than changing his weight within either adjacent range (within 165.5 - 169 or within 169 -172).
Now applying these ideas to the whole chart, if you were to list all of the floor / ceiling numbers, each one would be a weight at which this man would experience more difficulty moving above or below. This means he would have more difficulty changing his weight above or below 165.5, 169, 172, 176, 178, 180, and 184, as each of these "floor / ceiling" points is like a wall of difficulty within this particular person's total range of weight.
How about if this man wanted to remain at a certain weight? Where would he find this most difficult to do? He would have the hardest time maintaining his weight at approximately the mid points within each of the weight ranges represented; at about 167.5, 170.5, 174, 177, 179 and 182. This means if he woke up weighting 174, most likely his weight would soon change to a number either above or below 174 but also within the range from 172 to 176 and closer to one of these two floor / ceiling numbers.
The point here is, it would be easiest for this person to maintain his weight at the numbers right next to each of his floor/ ceiling walls, and more over, these places within each range would be places wherein this man's weight would likely fall into repeatedly, places where it would be easier for him to maintain his weight.
So Where Do "Weight Ranges" Come From?
Where do "weight ranges" come from? Admittedly, this question is difficult to answer and much is simply not yet known. What is known? Let's start by reviewing what I've already stated about what is presently assumed to be the way peoples' weights change; the things which are not true.
Have you ever followed your weight and noticed that you sometimes seem to gain several pounds in a single day? And have you ever attributed this several pound gain to the amount of food you ate the day before? Yet you ate no where near that weight in food? Obviously, this weight change must be coming from somewhere, but where, when the food you ate didn't weight anywhere near this much? More so, this idea is even more interesting when you know that people who diet or fast often gain weight several days into their diets or fasts. Is this true! Absolutely. In fact, probably more people quit from this "days into the diet weight gain" phenomena than from just about any other. Discouraging, to say the least. And as for fasts, on the fourth morning of the last four day fast I did, the number of my weight went back up more than three pounds, this despite not having eaten or drank anything other than water for the three previous days. More on what is happening here in a moment.
The truth is, then, if you were to follow and record your weight over a several month period, and if you were to also track, in the simplest way, how much you ate each day and how active you had been, what you would find is that your body weight rarely follows the weight of what you eat.
What does it follow, generally, that is? It follows two things; one, the momentum created by the difference between your usual amount of food and exercise and how much you just ate and exercised, and two, it follows the patterns which have been programmed into your body over your lifetime, electrochemical hills and valleys which get created during the whole course of your life.
First, let me talk about these patterns. What creates these patterns? In order to answer, I need to talk a bit about the properties of normal household rechargeable batteries and about how their ability to hold a charge changes over time. For those of you who do not know what I am referring to, every new rechargeable battery has a range of charge it can hold, something we could basically call "full" to "empty." Let's call this range from 10 (full) to 1 (empty). Theoretically, then, each new battery has a range from full, represented by 10, to empty, represented by 1. Unfortunately, though, due to the way rechargeable batteries work, this range eventually shrinks. Why? No one really knows completely, but what they do know is, if you do not fully discharge a rechargeable battery before recharging it, and if you do this enough times, eventually the range of charge this battery will be able to hold will get smaller and smaller, ultimately ending up so small as to render the battery useless. Thus, if you were to discharge a new rechargeable battery down to a 3 instead of down to 1, and if you were to then recharge it back up to 10, and if you were to do this enough times, eventually this battery would only be capable of supplying energy from 10 down to 3 instead of from 10 down to 1.
Does this part of the battery, from 3 to 1, wear out? Actually, I am told it does not. What causes this loss then? Rechargeable batteries have what is called, a "memory effect," meaning, they tend to remember the point at which you stopped discharging them and started to recharge them. More over, if you repeatedly recharge a rechargeable battery before it has been fully discharged, eventually you will lose access to the power stored in the battery below this point. In effect, you will have decreased the battery's access to the power stored in it, thus decreasing this battery's useable range.
What is strange here is, unlike the wet cell rechargeable batteries in cars which actually do wear out, in that they physically and chemically change over time, normal household rechargeable batteries do not physically change, at least not in a way anyone yet understands. Thus, even though rechargeable batteries remain physically capable of holding a full charge (from 10 to 1), if you don't discharge them completely before recharging them each time, eventually you will lose access to the power below this low point. You literally will create a wall at the new "low point." More important, no one knows why this happens nor how to avoid this effect, at least no way to completely override the problem.
Now would you be surprised to know that human bodies in some ways function like rechargeable batteries. In fact, a recent movie, "The Matrix," was based on this very idea. Thus, it is simply a fact that one aspect of human bodies is that they function as batteries and have, to some degree, the same "memory effect" properties as rechargeable batteries. No surprise we even refer to this idea in our every day language when we say things like, "I need to recharge my batteries" or "I have no energy left."
How does this memory affect apply to body weight? Before answering, I need to make one more analogy, what I call the "pier post" analogy.
The "Pier Post" Analogy
For anyone who has ever walked on an ocean beach where there are pier posts, you know that pier posts each have two marks on them, a high water mark and a low water mark. Often these two marks are comprised of something like a greenish stain or a group of barnacles marking the points at which the tides rise and fall. Somehow, then, each pier post gets stained at these two points. In fact, if you watch the water level changing against a pier post and compare this to the high and low water marks, you can generally gauge where in the cycle of rising and falling the tide is currently at.
You can do the same thing with human body weight if you chart it long enough and if you watch for the "high and low" points in this chart. Thus, just like ocean tides, bodies have tides in that body weight rises and falls in cycles each day, cycles which if repeated enough, literally create electrochemical marks at the high and low weight points.
OK. So there is something similar between the ocean tides and the high and low tide markings on pier posts and human body tides which also have high and low markings, in this case, high and low weight numbers in a weight range. What's the point?
The point is, tides have a tendency to stay within the range between these two marks for long periods of time. They also, at times, go beyond this range and if significant, can create a whole new range of marks.
When do the marks on a pier post change, in effect, when do the tides range significantly outside the high and low water marks for significant periods of time? Whenever there is a serious storm, such as in and around a hurricane. And how much of this change is permanent? Sometimes, quite a bit. Thus, seriously shocking weather such as a hurricane can create new tidal patterns, new ranges which are significantly higher or lower than what has been the ongoing range. The point?
Hum an bodies can have the same experience. In fact, the only way human weight can vary outside the current weight range is if the person experiences some kind of shock, such as a dramatic change in diet or exercise, or a serious illness. No surprise, then, that the essence of most weight loss diets and most weight loss exercise programs is sustained shock. Unlike ocean tides and the Earth, though wherein the Earth eventually rights itself; self corrects, if you will; human beings who follow these programs do not. In fact, the more rigidly people follow these programs, the more unhealthy they will become. Why? The answer is a bit complicated, but I'll try to summarize.
What Makes Diets and Exercise Work?
Let me start with diets (and no, I haven't forgotten the rechargeable battery part).
What makes weight loss diets work? One thing. Shocking amounts of selective deprivation. What does this mean? That it probably matters much less what you deprive yourself of than how much you deprive yourself.
Think about it. How many weight loss diets are there? A bunch. And how widely do they vary in focus? A lot. One says carbs are bad and protein and fat are cool. Another says meats and fats are bad and veggies are the only healthy food. Another says no white rice nor processed flour or sugar. Another says only cabbage soup and nothing else.
The truth is, people who follow these diets all do lose weight, although most regain this weight within short periods of time. What creates this temporary weight loss, in fact, what do all these diets have in common? Again, just one thing: they all rely on shocking amounts of selective deprivation to provoke the weight loss.
Am I saying the content of one's diet does not matter? Of course not. It very much does matter, albeit for quite different reasons than we have been led to believe. Remember, "health" is never the result of hate and so, any diet which designates certain foods as "bad" is based on lies no matter how many studies say otherwise. However, with regard to weight loss, clearly what is happening in these diets is that people are shocking themselves out of their current weight ranges and into a previously held, lower range. How? By depriving themselves of a food group they normally would eat. In other words, these people are simple using will power and some expert's guidelines to shock themselves into a lower weight range.
How unhealthy is this? Very. Why? Surprisingly, it is not because these diets use shocking amounts of selective deprivation. In truth, any weight loss OR gain outside the current weight range requires the person use shocking amounts of selective deprivation. What makes these diets unhealthy then? They all include sustained amounts of shocking selective deprivation.
My point. Using shocking amounts of selective deprivation is fine if you use them only in the few days in and around a change in weight range, when you are bordering on an adjacent range and want to move into it.
What then? You eat an amount normal for you. More over, you do this for enough time until you stabilize your weight in this new weight range.
What about if you seem to gain the weight back? Here, there is an important concept with regard to weight change, a concept I call, "rebound."
What is Rebound?
What is rebound? "Rebound" is what happens to people in the first day following a drop into a lower weight range, and as I stated previously, misinterpreting this weight "gain" is probably the biggest factor in quitting diets. Why? Because people think the diet has failed in that they are still dieting and yet their weight has gone back up.
What is happening here? Simply that the body is trying to compensate for what it interprets as a health hazard. In fact, if you lose weight due to illness, this same phenomena will occur. Thus, if your current weight range is between 169 - 172 and you diet for four days, you might weight 168.5 on the fifth morning. What next? On the sixth morning, you will likely weigh 171.5. Why? The body sees this weight lose as a health hazard and is self correcting. And on the seventh morning? Well, if you continue the diet just as you had been doing, you will, in all likelihood see your weight fall back down into the lower weight range and stay there, if you then eat normally or slightly less but certainly not more normal that this for a week or so.
What if you continue to diet, meaning, what if you continue to selectively deprive yourself? The answer depends on a lot of things, certainly on how long and how severely you have been depriving yourself. But if you continue within the usual weight loss dieting guidelines, your body will first respond to this as a short term emergency situation and if it continues, then as a long term emergency situation.
Now rather than to go into these situations in depth here, something far beyond the scope of this article, I will simply say that in both cases, the end result will be a loss of resilience in and around weight and fitness. No surprise. The body is braced for an assault or a long term battle. More important, though, anyone who loses this resilience for any length of time will suffer a general, overall loss of health, resulting in a greater vulnerability to disease and illness and a tendency to gain weight more easily.
What is sad here is, when weight loss diets are used in conjunction with weight range charts AND if people use selective deprivation only to change weight ranges and not for sustained periods, people can lose weight and maintain these losses with significantly less pain and with significantly less will power. More important, though, people who do this will not suffer losses in health and fitness in order to accomplish these weight losses.
A Blank Weight Range Chart
Above you will find a blank "Weight Range Chart" which you can print out.
Alternately you can view this chart as a pdf file, or download it as a zipped pdf.
Finally, should you need further help, please e-mail me and I will do my best to send you the file in a form better suited for your needs.