Dec. 29th, 2013

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 So, it turns out that someone I know is anorexic. The reason none of us noticed any sooner is that they are now thin but not actually underweight, since they were relatively overweight before their obsessive weight loss. That allowed everyone involved to overlook the physical symptoms or assume that they were caused by some other problem. 

Anyway, I'm not here to talk about anorexia. That was just the context for the conversation I had later the same day with a friend where I mentioned the anorexia and that led to us disagreeing about weight follows a set-point model or a strict calories in-calories out model, or something else.

And then the insight hit me: the reason I believe in a set point model is that that's how my own body operates, and how this person's weight operates. My weight has been stable for years, only going up in response to extreme stress/depression (and then only slightly - we're talking a difference of maybe 4kg at its most extreme), and then coming back down to its original point as soon as I'm feeling better. I've tried eating less occasionally but doing so makes me hungry enough to be irritable and unable to focus. (Edit: I've also engaged in varying amounts and types of exercise, with no visible effects on my weight or fat distribution). My friend, on the other hand, has been cutting calories for the past year or so and has made steady progress. Either she has a much higher tolerance for hunger than me, or else her body acts less like a whiny 2 year old when it hasn't gotten as many calories as it would prefer.

So that's the obvious insight - the whole argument boiled down to a textbook case of generalizing from yourself. I guess my next mission, if I feel like I have the energy to bring it up again, is to convince my friend that that's what she's doing, not that I hold much hope of that.

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