I have fought my body for most of my life. I've made my body sweat, underfed it, blamed it and tried to smush it into whatever form I wanted. I was in the gym seven days a week. I had a salad for dinner each night and went to bed feeling hungry and dreaming of breakfast. I was afraid to eat out with friends because I didn't know how I would handle ordering. I missed out on relationships, fun and just basic life. I was exhausted, hungry and unhappy. On the days I was actually okay with how my body looked, I was equally concerned about it not looking like that the next day. My life felt like being on a stair stepper. I put all my energy in to getting to the top without actually getting there, and the whole time I felt like if I didn't keep stepping up, I would completely fall down.
Disordered eating is a sneaky son-of-a-gun. It sneaked in through my insecurities and my desire for control. I didn't think I was all that different from anyone else. I guess if anything, I felt sort of special because I was so good at controlling myself. In reality, I was creating rules around food, my body and my life that would take years to rewrite.
I have been actively working on recovery, on rewriting those rules for the past five years. There's no one thing that has made this process work, but this past year I was introduced to intuitive eating, and it started something deep in me. Intuitive eating has given me the words and language to describe what I am doing and why. It has given me roots that feel substantial and lasting. It has given me something to be working towards.
If you haven't been introduced to intuitive eating, let me be the first.
Intuitive eating is eating in a way that is tuned in to what your body wants and needs. It's a way to make peace with food. This is a holistic way of eating and engaging food and ultimately, yourself. Now, don't stop reading or dismiss this quite yet. I know it's easy to write off the things that take effort. The things we know will require a real piece of ourselves - to really dig in and learn, change. But, I am here to tell you that it is worth it. You are worth it.
These days, I am learning how to honor my body. I am actively working on giving up the worry and the "shoulds." I am choosing to eat what sounds and tastes good. Logic hasn't gone out the door when it comes to the foods I eat, but it is not the only (or loudest) voice.
Do you know that excitement you feel on a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas because you know there will be good food you love available? Well, what if I told you that you could have that excitement and enjoyment every day? Oh, you are worried you will blow up like a balloon? I hear you. I was worried about that too, but what I realized is that the cycle of certain foods only being okay at certain times is what increases our desire to overeat them. If you TRULY felt like you could have a piece of pie any dang time you wanted, would you feel like you needed to go back for more? Maybe, if that's what your body was telling you, but maybe not if you trusted that later when you wanted another piece of pie, you would let yourself have it. That's intuitive eating.
The longer I engage in this process of learning my body, the more I realize it's about learning to trust myself. I'll be honest. It was in some ways easier to live by my food rules. I knew the when, where and why's of food/exercise without hesitation. This new way of eating and engaging my body requires me to pay attention and tune in to what is happening with me in the moment. That takes energy, time and intention, but it has given me more freedom than I thought possible. Some days, it feels like things are too good to be true. Like, I can have a satisfying sandwich for lunch and ALSO have pizza for dinner? And then I don't have to spend the rest of the night feeling disappointed in myself and coming up with a game plan to eat differently the next day? Whew! Such a relief!
My biggest hurdle now is accepting where my body lands. When you stop restricting and overly monitoring your food, you have to accept the effects. For someone who loves a good book graphic, I find it really hard not to judge a book by its cover. I find the same goes for how I view myself. To help rewire my thought process and view of myself to be more positive about body diversity, I have leaned on some great resources. Here are some of my favorite Intuitive Eating Dieticians to follow:
If my process has piqued your interest and you have any questions, please leave me a comment. I'd love to chat!
Also, that shirt up there has pretty much made my day. Click here to purchase.