Intuitive Eating and Exercising Taught Me to Trust Myself
Hi, my name is Jenn, and I’m an intuitive eater.
Have been for going on seven years. And it’s done a lot for me. Like, everything for me. I’ve written here about how I found intuitive eating and how it changed my life, but recently, as intuitive eating has become more second-nature and normal for me (I don’t have to tell myself to slow down to eat a piece of chocolate cake most of the time; I just do), I’ve been seeing a new added bonus to eating this way: a trust in my body and myself.
When you begin to really listen to what your body is telling you — and then respect it enough to take note, pay attention and act on it (or, in some cases not) — time and time again, it does you right. When you eat when you’re hungry, choose healthy foods most of the time but stop labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” and — for the love of God — drop the obsession with the scale and the number of calories in this or that, life opens up.
I always thought that intuitive eating was about me being healthier and happier, and it is. But the added bonus I didn’t expect: a boost to self confidence and a trust in myself that spills over to other areas of my life. If I get a bad feeling about a situation or a person, I’m more aware of it and more apt to listen to it. If I just know, deep-down, that my already scheduled HIIT session will be too much for me that day, I skip it and do a yoga DVD instead. If my gut says to forgo a party and do something more low-key instead — or call a friend or family out of the blue just because, I do it.
Turns out, paying attention to my hunger and fullness cues taught me to take notice of a lot of things my body was telling me — and not just at mealtime. Intuitive eating for me was an intro to being more mindful. And being more mindful and aware is really freakin’ awesome. Yes, sometimes it’s more challenging than not being aware, but it’s definitely worth it. When it comes to all areas of my life, I don’t just want to go through the motions; I want to experience all of it. I want to be aware.
You can read more about why intuitive eating works for me in the recent HuffPost Healthy Living article I wrote, but tell me, have you tried intuitive eating or exercising? Has it made you more mindful, too? —Jenn
I know exactly what you mean but for me it happened in the reverse! I’ve always listened to my gut in situations like going/not going out or calling a friend.
When I made the decision to start eating healthier and working out I struggled A LOT with sticking to a rigid set of rules and calorie counting etc. It wasn’t until a started applying the same intuition to food and exercising that I really found my grove in this lifestyle!
Thanks for sharing this, cuz I’m glad I’m not the only one 😀
One of my patients told me about your blog today and I’m so glad she did. Lots of excellent info from all of you and I’m glad my patients are reading what you have to say! Cheers to wellness/DrJJ
This is very interesting. I think that if you “listen” to your body it will indeed tell you what it needs – BUT what if you are so used to overconsumption and being deaf to what your body is saying that you have no idea how to read it?
Jenn, do you think calorie counting should be used as “training wheels” to get someone who has no clue how to read their bodies “feelings” in the “right ballpark”?
I agree with your article by the way – I love that approach – but what if someone truly doesn’t know the “feel” of hunger/full/ etc?
I think working with a registered professional is key. Having support and someone to help me set goals was super important, and, for me, my RD had me eating what I wanted, but every meal and snack needed to have a balance of healthy carbs, protein and fiber. For the first few months, I was also monitoring my hunger and fullness levels almost hourly. It took me quite awhile to know what hungry/full meant — almost like training a muscle. But it was well worth the effort. I think being aware of how many calories are in something can be really beneficial, but “counting” them — especially for those of us who get obsessive with it — can certainly be a not-so-great thing.
I love how posts always find away to pop up in my day. I was at the gym and overhead a trainer telling someone to count points because if she ate too much protein she’d bulk up. My butt twitched. It’s so hard out there to eat right when so many “experts” are giving false information out. Intuitive eating is the way to go!!! Everyone’s different! It makes the most sense. 🙂
Yes, Tish! 🙂
You put this so perfectly! AMEN. This is definitely me nowadays & I am so grateful for that awareness & that ability to BE more mindful.
Jenn, that explains it fully. I like the analogy of training your hunger and fullness “monitoring system” like a muscle. It truly is a learning process to eat correctly. We’ve been taught from such a young age to eat “wrong” – to the point of extreme fullness etc. Excellent article and keep up the good work!
Totally, Jay! 🙂
I’m a HUGE advocate of intuitive eating. I was once obsessed with numbers and counting but have since learned to listen to my body. If I need yoga, I attend a class. If I’m in the mood to sweat, I go to cycle. I’ve never been happier or healthier and try to educate others about the topic whenever possible. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! 🙂
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