Listen to Yourself | Intuitive Eating
*I wanted to add an edit to this post. This was a post I wrote just a few weeks before I joined the body positive movement and gave up dieting forever. I still definitely believe in Intuitive eating, but no longer as a weight loss tool. Rather, instead, of just trusting my brain and body to know what it wants, and loving my body exactly where it's at. So, if you're finding this post later, just no know that I don't believe in dieting or losing weight to look a certain way anymore. BUT I am definitely still about listening to yourself, and trusting your body and brain.
We have all been told at some point in our lives to 'listen to your body'. There are slogans and long, ranting insta posts that tell us what self-love should look like, how we should do it, what it should mean to you. All of these people have good intentions, but my goal is to break it down for you and show you exactly how it can be applicable to your life.
This all came about because of my recent (hello New Years resolution) decision to once again try to lose weight. I have at some point in the past done many things to lose weight: 21 day fix with beach body (lost 12 pounds, then switched programs and failed), met a personal trainer...twice (never lost any weight), and at some point just ran a lot (lost weight, but continued to eat shit so once I got a little injured from running, the pounds went back on).
I rarely talk about my weight loss struggles online or through social media because I've never been one to need external accountability. So, putting myself out there on social media actually felt like a cop out. Despite the fact that I LOVE to follow other people's journeys, and I always feel encouraged by them.
Well, since the beginning of January, I've lost 10 pounds. It is slow going, but my hope is that I've found a way to make it lasting.
And the answer is actually pretty simple: I began listening to myself.
About 4 months ago, my husband was in the midst of his Yoga Teacher Training and he brought up a concept from his classes. When you eat shitty food, pay attention to how you feel afterwards. To be honest, at the time, I sort of brushed this off. In my head I KNEW that a body won't feel good after eating poorly, but I wasn't actually ready to recognize it within myself.
A couple months back, I began taking yoga classes again, and one of my teachers made a point to hammer into us again and again throughout class that if the move she presented to us DID NOT FEEL GOOD to our bodies, we should modify the pose so that it did. She didn't tell us modifying it was 'easier' or 'harder' (words in my competitive head that translate to 'weaker' and 'stronger') but she simply said whatever felt good to our bodies was GOOD.
I cried that first class. No joke. Laying on my back, staring into the ceiling in the final moments of a very hard class in which rolls on my body prevented me from doing certain poses I had been able to do in the past, and I started crying. But it was a good cry. It was a liberating cry.
What I had been doing to my body by eating crap and not working out and generally loathing it DID NOT FEEL GOOD.
But here is perhaps the most important thing I will say: there is a balance to finding out what needs to feel good in the moment vs how to listen to your body later.
Okay, let me repeat that, just in case you didn't hear me the first time: THERE IS A BALANCE TO FINDING OUT WHAT NEEDS TO FEEL GOOD IN THE MOMENT VS HOW TO LISTEN TO YOUR BODY LATER.
Eating Domino's pizza in the moment feels good. It's delicious, our taste buds are happy, we're probably hungry if we resorted to Domino's, the endorphins are going. In theory, feels good = good.
However, if you were to continually pay attention to your body as the day/night progressed, you'd soon realize that the burning of stomach acid crawling into your throat and keeping you awake is the product of the food you ate earlier.
In your mind, linking these two events is harder than you think. But, do it. Connect the dots for yourself. Actually say to yourself: I feel like this because of the Domino's pizza.
Sometimes, it's more acute than that. Sometimes, it's as simple as realizing that when you have coffee you have mild heartburn and have to go to the bathroom. Versus when you choose water or tea, you have no discomforting side effects and your body feels normal (which is good).
For me, I started actively paying attention to my body about 30 minutes to an hour after I've eaten something. Did what I ate upset my stomach? Even if it is a small discomfort. I sit and I actually focus hardcore on that part of my body. Did having coffee give me a headache, even a slight one? Did filling myself full of carbs or unhealthy fats make me feel bloated and lacking energy?
Once I began to recognize these things in myself it wasn't hard to reject them. Some things are still really hard for me to say no to, but as soon as I allow myself to have it, my body reacts soon after and I remember why I stopped eating it or drinking it.
The second part of now vs later is working out. In the moment, working out is hard and doesn't always feel good. Your lungs are burning, your muscles are tired, and the couch would feel SO MUCH BETTER. But working through it and recognizing how it makes you feel LATER is so important.
Because later, there will be endorphins, there will be muscle, there will be a better night's sleep, there will be a community.
That doesn't mean pushing yourself to pain. Just like with my yoga instructor. She wanted us to push ourselves, but not break ourselves. So, if you're lifting weights and something hurts, stop.
Learning to listen to your body in general, will help you differentiate between good hurt and bad hurt.
During the next couple weeks, try this at home: after every meal, listen to what your body is telling you. Put your hands on your stomach an hour after you eat, close your eyes, and focus on what it is telling you. If you feel good, or normal, THAT IS AWESOME. If, however, you notice a burn in your chest, a slight uncomfortable-ness in your stomach or intestines, the beginning of a headache (which is just a nice way of saying you have a headache), link it to whatever you ate and ask yourself if you want to feel this way again.
Because, the truth is, you don't have to feel like that ever again.