A couple months ago, I had a major shift in both my fitness and food mentality-and, if I’m honest, my outlook on how I live my life, but that’s a story for another day. Today, I’d like to share with you one aspect of that shift-how I choose what to eat.
I have tried many “diets” and shifts in lifestyle in order to control my weight -I’m even writing a book where I’ll share this journey and the good and bad of each step along the way-I learned so much and definitely grew from each thing I investigated, and had lots of success. But, as you might know from reading this blog, I’ve been stuck and frustrated much of the past three years, and while I still don’t know exactly why (though I have a strong sense that stress hormones are a factor), this mindset shift brought me to a place where I grew very uncomfortable with the concept of dieting, macros, bad foods, and calorie counting that health culture seems to be immersed in.
All that stuff has been part of my journey, and I think my education on what makes MY body feel best has been absolutely necessary, so I am not eschewing the education – but I am fed up with the dieting mentality. I have spent the past three years agonizing and second guessing my nutritional choices constantly, and feeling frustrated and like a failure when almost nothing seems to be the answer to my woes. I see other friends deep diving into extremely restrictive “lifestyles” and preaching them as one size fits all fact, and it brings up really troubling emotions in me, both for myself, and empathetically for others- see, I know a ton about nutrition, and eating healthy food is easy for me. I am almost never “tempted” by a “bad” food, because I know that one dessert, or even a few, is not going to interfere with my goals. (More on this in a minute.) Overeating or emotional eating are not part of my story. But what about these folks who don’t have 15 years of active pursuit of what’s best for their bodies (it’s not the same for everyone, btw…) and have a really dysfunctional relationship with food? Is presenting them all this extremely restrictive information going to empower or further defeat them, if not in the short term, in the long? I feel like I know the answer, based on the long history of fad diets I’ve seen roll through. I have been fortunate, in that the things I’ve tried (which you’ll be able to read about cohesively soon!) have all taken me in one direction, I’ve never had a “failed diet” preceded or followed by binges. But most people who diet do.
I’ve heard my friend Kristine (again, yes, God uses her a LOT in my life…) talk about Intuitive Eating a lot over the past year or maybe longer, and initially I thought it was basically giving up and being ok with being overweight, and I wasn’t down with that-it’s not. It’s basically taking the power away from food, freeing yourself from restrictive rules that set you up for binges and failure, and getting in tune with and consequently resetting your hunger signals.
So I’m digging in. I need the stress relief (especially if stress hormones are a major part of my body’s resistance to weight loss), I need the freedom, and I have armed myself with enough knowledge about what food is fulfilling for my body regarding taste and overall wellness to do this confidently-I hope.
If I’m honest, I’m still kinda terrified. I have been tracking my food intake for six years, initially to make sure I was eating enough, and that worked great, until after D was born when I started struggling to see any results and became afraid to eat all the calories the app was telling me too. I’m almost in tears writing this, because I still don’t understand why, except maybe that between the birth, insanely difficult postpartum period and the raging mental illness it brought on that has yet to let up, my body is in just…survival mode.
But then I step back and look at that golden period in 2013/2014 when I lost 70 lbs and gained energy and a comfort and confidence in my body that I’ve never had, I realize that even though I was tracking my calories for the most part, I was generally an intuitive eater. I ate dessert-regularly even, but I still lost weight. There were foods I didn’t eat (mostly pizza and ice cream) but it wasn’t that I couldn’t, it was that the taste payoff didn’t match the sluggish bloated gross way my body felt after. So I chose not to. But I ate brownies, cheesecake, sushi (so much sushi) and breaded catfish, just to name a few examples. And I consistently lost weight.
Since Declan has been born I have lost 2 pant sizes, but only a handful of pounds cumulatively-the two times I’ve seen my weight start to drop have had one thing in common-I wasn’t overtraining and I wasn’t tracking my food as closely-as a matter of fact, the week I dropped about 5 lbs I didn’t track at all. That tells me that, as hard as it is, I need to let go a bit. I need to listen to my body, eat when I’m hungry, make wise choices, but not live in fear or pressure or deprivation.
It’s another step, another area where I’m pursuing freedom.
If you want to talk about this, I love talking about what I’ve learned about food and fitness and helping others find what makes their bodies feel their best-because it’s different for everyone! Please message me on FB, insta, email, whatever!