I first heard of the term Intuitive Eating when I was listening to a podcast a couple of years ago. I don't remember which one it was but I remember thinking...da fuck? What the hell is this. This was a concept I had never heard of -- I mean, I knew what intuition was and obviously knew what eating was but this was such a foreign concept to me...Eating Intuitively.
Anyone thinking the same thing? If you're answer is, nah, Amanda, I've been practicing intuitive eating for years then let me take this opportunity to give you the biggest air high five. For real, congrats, dude. I am so proud of you for getting there because, coming from someone who it's taken years to finally "get it", it takes a lot of hard work.
But if your answer is more like "uh....girl....what does eating and intuition have anything to do with each other", this post is for you. And trust me, girl, I was right there with ya.
From my understanding (and guys, I'm not a professional here, this is just my personal take on all of this), the practice of Intuitive Eating is essentially listening to your body/your inner knowing and fuel yourself with food based on what your body needs, not thinks it needs. We're all born as natural intuitive eaters. Kids grow up, listening to their bodies when it tells them they're full or hungry. But somewhere along the way, many of us lose this innate knowledge. I know I did. And if you're anything like me, you probably did too.
I'm about to share something super personal. Something I have never really shared before and, to be honest, am currently squirming in my chair trying to think about just the prospect of putting these words out there to the universe. But I believe so strongly that being true to ourselves is one of if not the most important thing we can do for ourselves and man, when it comes down to it, sharing is caring, right? So here goes.
Ever since the end of high school, I have struggled with a negative relationship with food.
I never had or felt I had an outright 'problem', whatever the hell that means anyways, but food always seemed to be on my mind. Whether I was having a bad day and felt that the only form of self medication was to have an entire bag of m&ms in one sitting because "I deserved it" OR when I obsessively counted my calories & labeled foods like carbohydrates, dairy and sweets as BAD and completely OFF LIMITS. I thought this was how life had to be. A bunch of my friends operated that way. Magazine articles and social media would tell me what foods to stay away from & that the best way to get over a bad day was to stuff your face with as many sweets as physically possible. I didn't know any different. And yes, a large part of it stems from my need to feel constantly in control, my perfectionist tendencies and just generally feeling not good enough (more on that at a later date), but when it comes down to it, I thought it was normal. That this was just what life would be forever. And four years ago, this all came to a head.
So here I am. The picture on the left was in 2012 & the picture on the right, a year later, in 2013. Here's the thing, I am not proud of EITHER of these pictures because the girl in both of them is unhappy & lost. To some of you, I may appear to be healthy in one (or both!) of these pictures, but let me tell you, the girl you see here is a girl I hope to never see again.
The 2012 Me:
I was in college, and trying to figure out who the hell I was and who I wanted to be. I went through a big heartbreak when I first got to school and I went from eating more than I should just because I was bored to eating food because it made me feel better. Less sad. And I thought that food was the answer. That it would fill me up (literally, and figuratively). Did it make me feel better? Well, it made me sick. I would eat until way after I felt full because I thought I needed it. I thought it was the only answer. And this became a crux. A habit that I couldn't seem to break. And I felt so OUT OF CONTROL on this aspect of my life. From the outside, I looked like I had all of my shit together, but in reality, I was super unhappy.
Fast forward to a year later. I had decided to take my life back. To get control over what I was putting in my body FOR GOOD. So I took things to the next extreme and man oh man did my perfectionist, ENTJ personality type need for structure and control cause me to take things too far. I LOVE following plans and "sticking to my goals"I started working out twice a day. I counted calories and I completely eliminated carbs, sweets and dairy from my diet. And okay yeah, did I lose weight? I lost 27 pounds in the span of a year. But was I happy? Everything I thought I could get when I was 'skinny', I didn't get. If anything, my mental spirit got so much worse. I would feel shame and disgust when I "fell off the wagon" because I went out for a burger with my friends. And I was constantly hungry, eating brussel sprouts for dinner because I thought that was what it took to be healthy.
The summer of 2013, I went through what I like to call The Dark Days. I had a really rough few months and I resorted to my feel better habits. You can read more about My Story but after finally seeing the light, I decided to focus on my Mental health.
A couple of months ago, I tried the 21 Day Fix and after reading about and hearing about Intuitive Eating, it finally really clicked. It gave me a true foundation for understanding proper portion control and how to maintain a true balance with my daily food intake. And it has given me the tools to live a balanced life -- I am finally practicing the 80/20 rule that I have preached for so long. For the first time in my adult life, I feel FREE. And it is truly my deepest wish that everyone can get to this place. That's why I have become SO passionate about helping other women to believe in themselves and achieve a healthy relationship with food. That's why I became a coach. And these amazing women that are a part of my community inspire ME on the daily to stay true to myself. They encourage me just as much as I do them.
So...where am I now?
Am I the skinniest I've ever been? Do I have a killer six pack? Nope & nope. But am I the happiest & healthiest -- body, mind and soul -- that I've ever been in my life? You can bet your ass that I am.
I've stopped counting calories & weighing myself altogether. Yup, scale in the garbage.
I love me some chocolate, but I eat it in moderation because I know it makes my tummy angry.
I take cues from what my body is telling me I need, and I listen.
I don't feel guilty if I indulge on date night or have one too many cocktails when I'm hanging out with my girlfriends.
I no longer view my eating habits as a competition with others. I just do what works best for me.
I know that moderation is what works best for me so instead of binging on the weekends or being overly controlling with my food, I allow myself treats throughout the week.
I am free.
How to Practice Intuitive Eating
+ Be Patient With Yourself.
This is NOT something that will happen overnight. I have been on this journey for two freaking years guys, and I'm finally just starting to get to a place where I feel like it's becoming a true part of my daily life. It takes time, practice and dedication but I promise you it is so worth it when you start to see the light on the other side.
+ Respect and Trust your Body
By honoring your hunger and creating a peaceful relationship with food, you're building a basis of self-trust within yourself.
+ Look beyond the Surface
What are you going through internally? What part of yourself do you need to work on // is the root cause that is triggering your negative relationship with food? Once you address these things, and work on your mental blocks, your relationship with food will progress naturally.
+ Find Support!
I would have never been able to get to where I am by myself. If it weren't for the amazing community of women that I am a part of, constantly encouraging me through my struggles and helping me celebrate my successes, I would not be where I am today.
Sometimes we just need someone to talk to -- know that I am always here for you and that you can Email me at any time. :)
You have it inside of you & hot damn, You are Worth It.
All the Love & Light in the World,