The temperature is rising and the days are growing longer. The amount of time I can have my windows open is shrinking and will soon disappear as air conditioning becomes a necessity 24/7. Ironically, as the weather heats up I find it necessary to take a sweater wherever I go. Nearly every store, movie theater and indoor facility will be so cold, I'll need outerwear to go in! The heat wouldn't be so bad if we allowed ourselves to acclimate but we overcompensate and spend the summer going from one extreme to the other. This phenomenon seems to be human nature and is observable to manage our behaviors and thus, ourselves.
Earlier this week, the New York Times published a piece about contestants from the show, the Biggest Loser._ The article details several contestants from season 8 and the subsequent weight gain over the six year period after their appearance on the show. All but one of the contestants gained most, if not all of their weight back. The science included in the article explains how their metabolisms were effected by the dramatic weight loss and how biology adapted to return their bodies to their pre-show size. The set point theory_can help you better understand how this might happen.
My personal take is that dramatic change elicits an alarm response in the body producing hormones and changes in metabolism to counterbalance what is perceived as a threat. Most changes in the body occur gradually over time and are often years in the making. When you have spent years doing anything, there is an adaptive response. To use the air conditioning analogy, your body has acclimated to weight gain and the various body systems have adapted to the stress. Our bodies are uniquely capable of adapting to challenge but overload must be implemented in measured increments to produce positive change or progression. In other words, we must work with, not against our bodies. Over correcting may result in injury in the short term and long term negative changes to our physiology.
If we consider our own resistance to change, it comes as no surprise that the body might also resist change in an effort to maintain homeostasis. When it is 110 outside, a 30 degree drop when you step indoors feels good at first, but quickly becomes too cold. Like exercise, if we can tolerate a little discomfort, our bodies would adapt to the change rather quickly, but that notion meets with very little support when I say it's too cold. So, for now, I'll take my sweater with me as the temperatures rise because I am experienced at adapting to change, but I don't always like it!