So… a year or so ago? I was in a really, REALLY good place. I had discovered the concept of intuitive eating and had embraced it whole-heartedly. Or so it seemed at the time. Intuitive eating isn’t a diet. It’s about becoming more attuned with your body’s natural hunger cues and about creating a healthy relationship with your body and food. I had stopped dieting, and started nourishing my body. I ate when I was hungry, stopped when I’d had enough. I celebrated life’s successes and coped with emotions in normal, healthy ways. IE not with a pint of ice cream or a bag of chips. At least not most of the time. I was at peace with food and with my body. And then, one day, I stepped on the scale. And I realized I was within about five pounds of my “ideal” weight.
So what did I do? I went looking for a diet, a plan, that magic something that would help me lose those last few pounds and finally allow me to say I’d been successful at this whole weight loss gig.
Looking back, I’m baffled at my thick-headedness. I was right there. I already was successful. I was at peace, I was healthy, I looked and felt good. But I let myself get distracted by a shiny object – that elusive 12X on the scale. And I lost it.
Recently, I decided to recommit to intuitive eating. It’s where I was my happiest, and my most sane. In rereading the book by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, I realize that I only truly embraced about half of the principles of intuitive eating. The others I paid lip-service to, and I thought I was living them – I truly did! – but in reality I was manipulating them to fit the ideas I already held.
What are these principles, and where did I get off track? I’m so glad you asked!
- Reject the Diet Mentality – stop believing there’s a diet out there that’s going to “fix” you. It’s pretty obvious I bailed on this one, right?
- Honor Your Hunger – eat when you’re hungry. Not when the clock tells you to. And don’t ignore your hunger in an effort to save calories or be “good”. I’m actually good on this. Although, yes, there are days when I get seriously hungry. But those days are due to circumstance and not to any desire of mine to starve myself into a smaller jean size.
- Make Peace with Food – put an end to forbidden foods. This is one I thought I had, when in reality I was using my strict vegetarian moniker to hold this one at bay.
- Challenge the Food Police – banish the ideas of “good” and “bad” food. Errr, refer to principle #3 to see how I fared on this one.
- Respect your Fullness – tune into your body and stop before you’re stuffed. There are times I over-indulge, and have that dessert even though I don’t really need it, but most of the time this isn’t a concern.
- Discover the Satisfaction Factor – finding pleasure both in what you eat and the circumstances in which you eat. I’ve got to be honest and say I never really “got” this.
- Honor your Feelings Without Using Food – I don’t have to explain this one, I’m sure. I had it, but I lost it.
- Respect Your Body – accept your body for what it is. Truly, I’m okay with this. I will never be a skinny, lithe little thing. I’ll never be a size 2. I don’t care. I just want to be healthy and at peace with myself.
- Exercise-Feel the Difference – the admonishment here is to forget militant exercise. Instead exercise for the joy of it. And I do. Sometimes I run. Sometimes I walk. Sometimes I lift. Sometimes I yoga. I do it for how it makes me feel, not for the caloric burn it will deliver.
- Honor Your Health – Make food choices that honor your health. This is another one I thought I had cold, but in reality turned out to be food rules I used to keep me in check.
It’s probably going to be slow-going. I probably won’t be back to within five pounds of my “ideal” weight by my upcoming trip to see family in August. But I’m not going to look for another quick fix. Intuitive eating is how normal, healthy people eat. And that’s me. A normal, healthy person.