(Trigger Warning: this post could be triggering to those who have had experience with eating disorders.)
In January I decided to give Intuitive Eating a try. It’s been a process, but I’ve been embracing parts of it bit by bit. The final piece that I’ve been working on isn’t about food. It’s about working out intuitively, as in, moving my body in ways that make me feel good and not because I “need to” or “should”.
So what does eating intuitively look like for me? It means I eat when I’m hungry, or if I can’t eat when I’m hungry, I plan ahead and eat earlier than I’d like OR I eat after I’m hungry if I have to. The book says to always eat when hungry, but realistically we can’t always do that. I pay attention to what types of foods I’m eating and try to eat from all food groups each day, and not get in a rut so I can make sure I’m getting all the nutrients that I need. I choose foods I enjoy, and I don’t deprive myself when I have a craving because I trust my body will tell me when I’m full. I no longer eat extra things protein shakes or other foods because they supposedly aid weight loss, when they’re just extra calories.
My body now knows that I will ALWAYS provide it with food. After years of starving it through dieting, it has re-learned to trust that I will feed it, which is a good thing. I’m no longer mowing down food mindlessly. Each bite I take is savored, or at least given thought. I’ve even found out that I don’t like foods I used to eat all the time, like chicken. I’m still working on emotional eating, but have made progress.
So intuitive eating makes sense, right? But intuitive exercising? What the hell is that? Would we “intuitively” exercise if given the choice?
I would. And do. I love to walk, run, bike, hike, and lift. There are things I do not like to do that I typically would avoid doing, but I am doing a bit of those things to support the things that I love to do. For example, I’ve been building strength in my legs to support walking and running. I’ve also been stretching quite often and can touch my toes for the first time EVER. I seriously hate stretching. Loathe it, in fact. But I do it all the time now because I enjoy my favorite activities MORE when I’m good at them.
I used to spend 8-10 hours in the gym a week. 1.5-2 hours with cardio, lifting, cooling down, etc. I’d bust my ass doing intervals, HIIT workouts, and various “muscle confusion” activities. Now? I spend maybe 3-4 hours working out a week (if that), and my workouts consist of whatever I feel like doing for the day, knowing that I have a few things I need to do if I would like to keep running healthily.
Since I started really embracing living intuitively, and not by the numbers, I’ve noticed a huge change in my attitude and mood, as well as changes in my body. These body changes are things I was trying to force previously but are naturally happening on their own now that I’m allowing my body to just “be”.
I took “in progress” shots tonight. I’d taken shots in January before I started juicing. I really can’t tell a difference in looking at them, but my clothes fit better around my hips, my legs have gotten smaller, I’ve built my calves up, my back got smaller, and even though you can’t really tell in these pictures, my butt has gotten smaller. Oh, and I’m in dire need of a chiropractic adjustment. And I just colored my hair, but am in desperate need of a hair cut. I actually kind of like my natural color better (whoops … oh well).
So now what?
I’m going to keep with my non-plan plan. I’ll have more time in a couple weeks when my classes are over, so I’m excited to spend more time running and lifting because I love doing those things, and less time studying. The weather is nicer now too, so that will entice me to be outdoors more.
Do I have a goal? Yes and no. I would like to fit into my clothes the way I like them to fit (they’re a bit tight now, but better than previously). I keep having a weekly battle with myself over whether to weigh or not, and I have been able to stay away from the scale. The number is not important. It’s how I feel. And things are fitting better than they did in January, so something is changing.
All in all, this is possibly the greatest change I’ve made in my lifestyle since becoming really devoted to healthy living. I think if I can keep working on living intuitively that I will finally finally finally kill the rest of my disordered eating and be able to have a normal relationship with food and my body.
Thanks for sticking with me. What are your thoughts about intuitive eating?
For the record, I think that tracking calories / workouts is okay if you have a specific goal and an end in site. For example, my friend Laura is training for a figure competition, so she is keeping track of everything right now, but once her competition is over, she is probably not going to track anymore because it’s not a permanent thing. Also, I will eventually marathon train and will need to stick to specific workouts and a more strict nutrition plan, but right now is not the time for that.