Finally this morning, I finished Intuitive Eating. While it was a lengthy read and a very fact-driven book, I loved every moment of it. As someone who has struggled with “food noise” for the majority of my life, this book was a big game changer. I think it was perfect timing reading this going into the holiday season too, because now I can apply these principles during one of the most challenging times of the year. In the past, the holiday season has been a huge struggle for me as I tried my best to “be good” which always ended up backfiring. This year, I’m taking away several key lessons from Intuitive Eating and applying them to how I’m eating this holiday season.
Lesson One: Diets Don’t Work
Although this is something deep down that I already knew, I had been on some sort of “diet” so many times that it just seemed like part of my life. Intuitive Eating taught me that depriving myself will only lead to me feeling unsatisfied. Although it was a scary though at first for me to give up dieting, allowing myself to have whatever I want has quickly changed how I eat. I have not felt deprived in the past few months since I decided to try this concept out and I also haven’t felt the need to go overboard with food in any situation.
Lesson Two: Focus on how Exercise Makes you Feel
This lesson was something that I had already thought about, but reading about the concept of treating exercise as “play time” really hit home for me. I’ve shifted my focus from treating working out as something I “have to do” to something that is a social activity. Last month, my husband and I joined a Master’s Swim League and now I look forward to spending time with him and having others to hold me accountable. I’ve also made it a point to make working out my social activity by making yoga dates and having a buddy to hold me accountable when I decide to do a morning workout. This was exactly what I needed, because it has helped me find my workout groove again.
Lesson Three: Quit Being Your Own Worst Enemy
This was something that needed to happen. Once I gave up dieting, I also had to give up the guilt that goes along with dieting. Although this is a work in progress, I’ve given up being “good” and “bad” when it comes to food. I’ve given up feeling guilty because I ate some chips, a cupcake or a bowl of ice cream. In the past, this guilt would cause me to feel bad about myself and eat even more “bad” food. Now that there is no “bad” food, a cupcake is just a cupcake. Now, I eat the cupcake, enjoy it and move on. No one ever got fat eating one cupcake.
Lesson Four: You Don’t have to Eat Perfectly to be Healthy
One thing that really resonated with me was the idea of maintaining a balance overall. In the past, I’ve become so focused on what I was eating at that moment and having a “bad day” that I never really took a step back and looked at the big picture. Some days are going to be high calorie days, some days are going to be pictures of health. All that matters is it all balances out. And it will, if you listen to your body and give it what it wants, when it wants. This is the ultimate goal for Intuitive Eating and this idea is something that I’m trying to keep in the back of my mind at all times. So far, it’s working. And this holiday season, I definitely think these lessons will carry me through feeling balanced and healthy!