CHANGE #4 – INTUITIVE EATING / CHANGING MY MIND AROUND FOOD
Grocery shopping used to take me hours as I scrutinized nutrition labels and fantasized about meals I couldn’t eat OR it consisted of a cart that looked like a death trap because it was all previously “forbidden food.”
Deciding where to go out to eat was like solving a rubics cube which often ended up in time lost and me frustrated while ultimately choosing the “wrong” place to go anyway OR it was still a hard decision because I wanted to go everywhere I didn’t typically allow myself to go.
Carbs were bad and sugar was worse so I avoided them at all costs OR carbs and sugar were the primary ingredients in my binges and there was no avoiding them.
“Diet soda” was a way to keep me from eating or a way to wash down the binge I just had.
Social events consisted of me either white knuckling my way through, avoiding any and everything I wanted OR eating any and everything I wanted while secretly berating myself for doing so and both left me not even paying attention to the social event I was at or the people I was with.
The scale was down so I would restrict even further to keep it going down out of fear it would go up OR the scale was up and I would say F*it and eat like an asshole since “I was fat anyway.”
Do any of these sound familiar to you? These were common thoughts that ran through my head regarding food on a regular basis. My life consisted of yo-yo dieting. Phases of months at a time where I’d yo-yo from Black to white and back to Black again. And these are the thoughts that I’d have. Restriction to bingeing, 160lbs to 140lbs, all to nothing. But one thing remained constant through every phase… OBSESSION.
Whether I was obsessed with controlling food to control my body or obsessed with the food I was finally going to “allow” myself to eat, I was obsessed. Constant food thoughts. Constant body scrutiny. Ring a bell???
So how did I stop being obsessed with food, fitness and my body? I CHANGED MY MIND. Now before you get pissed at me like that is bullshit or not possible or before you get so excited that I have an answer for you, know this: it’s not black or white. It’s not struggle or be cured. It’s a practice. A daily practice. One where old thoughts still rear their ugly heads but now I can wack-a-mole them. Seriously. This is the change I made.
This is the mental change that helped change my relationship with food. So I already wrote about how I first had to change my relationship with my body or none of this would have had a chance in Hell of working or lasting. (Refer back to that blog.) I first read the book, Intuitive Eating, over a year ago. I was desperate and luckily realized the answer to my perfect body does NOT lie in the perfect diet or workout. And I could write SO much about this but I’m going to highlight some main points. If you think you may want further help in this area, contact me. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. I surrendered. I first and foremost gave myself the chance to have a messy period. I wanted to change this cycle so badly that I resigned myself to the fact that this probably won’t look like your typical “healthy eating diet” or whatever you would call it. However, I did have one condition. I matter what I ate, I had to pay attention to how it made me FEEL. In full disclosure, I ate some shit. Ok probably a lot of shit. I remember going to the grocery store and buying four different snacks like graham crackers, cheez-its, peanut butter filled pretzels and something else. The thoughts battled in my head.
“Don’t get those. You’ll eat them all. They’ll make you fat. You’ll be bloated. People will know you ate crap. You’ll look like crap. So and so doesn’t eat that. You’re a trainer. Get your shit together. It’s ok, you have an hour to do cardio tmw. And you can go for a walk. And workout with Dave…” the list goes on. But this is exactly the shit I wanted to change.
So, I also remember still having two of those things unopened days later. Because the talk in my head changed to…
“You know you can have those any time you really want them, right? You know you have the luxury to buy the food you want. You know you will have them in the pantry for when you do want them. How do you feel when you eat them? Do you want to feel sluggish? Do you realllllllly want them RIGHT NOW?”
Now I know you are sitting there thinking, “But Lisa, if I allow myself to eat whatever I want, I’ll pig out everyday, gain weight and be fat forever.” And I know you won’t believe me when I say, “No, you won’t.” BUT I’m going to say that anyway. Because at first it was awesome. “You mean, I can go get donuts?” Yes. And you don’t have to spray Windex on them just so you don’t eat more than a bite!!! So you eat the donuts. You eat the pasta. You eat the ice cream. And maybe you do it for several weeks. And then you start to realize those “forbidden foods” aren’t as exciting and tempting because they aren’t forbidden anymore. Your brain is like oh, maybe tomorrow. And you also start to realize you feel like shit. Maybe you feel sluggish, bloated, tired, irritable, hungry, etc. THIS is why it was crucial that I paid attention to how I felt when I ate things. How did the bagel with cream cheese make me feel versus my favorite cocoa-monkey shake? How did pizza at 8pm make me feel versus my steak stir fry? How did I feel snacking on processed foods instead of yogurt and berries or nuts and fruit? This is how I got to the point of wanting to FEEL GOOD and eating for that purpose versus eating to control my body’s appearance which always backfired. Which brings me to the less scary changes but still necessary….
2. I ate more! Yes, I ate more. I stopped restricting. I started to eat ENOUGH. By eating enough, my brain got out of starvation mode in which it made me crave “bad” foods. You know, those sugary, carby, snack foods that don’t satiate you anyway? They just F up your blood sugar? Yeah, I wasn’t craving those as often anymore.
3. Why? Another reason is because I ATE BALANCED MEALS!! Yes, meals that included carbs! And fats! I stopped doing the “carbs are bad thing.” Carbs don’t make you fat. Restricting them and craving donuts and pizza makes you fat. Do you want to live everyday trying to white knuckle through chicken and veggies only to find your face in Ben and Jerry’s Friday night??? I didn’t either.
4. I allowed myself to choose meals that will satisfy me. If chicken, rice and broccoli doesn’t sound good, chances are you’ll eat it then end up in the cupboard an hour later because you aren’t satisfied! Maybe a steak, sweet potato with some butter and sautéed green beans sounds better which will ultimately leave you satisfied. And don’t be afraid if sometimes the turkey on a whole wheat bagel for lunch sounds fantastic or a steak souvlaki WITH yummy feta sounds DELISH! This was huge for me. Eat what I love because there are foods that make feel good that also taste good and satisfy me. Learn what those are for YOU.
5. I ditched the track. You know the one you are either on or off? The one that is responsible for keeping you from being fat as long as you stay on it? Bullshit. No one stays on that track 24/7 and if you throw in the towel when you fall off, how will you ever get to your goal body? You won’t. SO WHAT IF YOU DITCHED THE TRACK ALL TOGETHER? I did. Then I stopped beating myself up if Ben and Jerry’s did happen! So be it. Moving on.
6. I genuinely wanted to feel good and treat my body well. I wanted energy for workouts that made me feel good. I wanted to avoid mood swings from sugar spikes and crashes. I wanted to be an example for clients. For my nieces and nephew. I wanted to treat my body like my friend, not my enemy. And I wanted to see what happened when I wasn’t either white knuckling restricting or balls out eating like an asshole. I was finally in that gray area!!! And I liked it there.
I added veggies back in. I ate well because I WANTED TO not because I had to. Now it makes me feel good to feed my body oatmeal and sweet potatoes, Greek yogurt and guacamole. I don’t do it to control my body.
Like I’ve said before, this is the difference between CHOICE and CONTROL.
I listen to my body and not JUST in a foo-foo self love way. In a way like I’m a scientist running an experiment and taking notes. A pasta dinner followed up with ice cream makes me crash asleep in 20 minutes, gives me bad dreams, makes me thirsty, and I wake up feeling like crap. My favorite French friends at night? Hello 3am wake up feeling like my mouth is the Sahara dessert in need of water, stat! NOT because when I wake up the scale is up 3 pounds but because I want to be able to wake up without hating life or myself, I want to have energy for a workout and I want to have energy to train my clients.
This is a choice to feel good not a “have to” because I’m on track or off track and have to control what my body looks like.
“When we stop trying to control food, food stops controlling us.” 🙌 Isabel Foxen Duke
So, eat. Eat enough. Eat balanced meals. Allow yourself to eat what will satisfy you. And pay attention to how foods make you feel. Then choose, don’t control. The life free from obsession is at your fingertips.
Check me next week for my 5th and final change in the series that ended my obsession with food, fitness and my body.