Intuitive Eating Road Blocks - Week 2

Week 2!! You are almost through the 10 concepts of Intuitive Eating (days 8-10 below) and this week I'm talking about roadblocks and resistance - the things that seem to get in the way when women try to eat intuitively. This is not an exhaustive list...so if you're having issues I don't discuss feel free to email me or let me know in the Facebook Group!

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Challenging Bad Body & Food Thoughts (Worksheet)

One of the hardest things to do - in the intuitive eating, body acceptance world - is to acknowledge that our feelings and thoughts ARE NOT FACTS. As long as we continue to buy into the stories we are telling about food, weight, body, and health we stay stuck in the behaviours that are born of those thoughts.....so let's interrupt the pattern.

Use the work sheet below to keep track of bad food/body thoughts as you have them (you don't need the sheet! You could use a journal or note app in your phone if that's better for you!) and then, when you have a minute, take some time to CHALLENGE the thoughts.

You will not likely have ALLLLLL the answers at the tips of your fingers. If you've done work with me in the past, you can pull on that information. If you have not - try tappin into your intuition. Ask your intuition how you could see things differently. Ask your intuition what is WRONG with the thoughts.....see what comes up. Also know, that we will touch on how to manage these thoughts as we work through the monthly themes - and you can absolutely ask questions at this month's Q&A!!!

Day 8 - Respect Your Body

You might not like it, but believe me when I say it:
the biggest obstacle you have to making peace with food is respecting and accepting your body....exactly as she is.

BUT FIRST: let's talk about yesterday.
How did it feel to think about the fact that emotional eating is, to some extent, perfectly normal? To consider it a valid coping mechanism, as opposed to a shameful, sinful behaviour you obviously participate in because you are SO broken?

You are not broken.
Most negative behaviours around food are a reasonable, natural, human reaction to a culture that encourages you to behave in a very UNnatural way around food. Trying to control your biological drives and curb your human desires, in order to manipulate your body, has consequences.

We've already talked about listening to your biological drive (hunger) and your human desire (pleasure and comfort)...now it's time to tackle the next part of the equation: constant attempts at body manipulation.

Day 8: Respect Your Body

"Accept your genetic blueprint. Just as a person with a shoe size of eight would not expect to realistically squeeze into a size six, it is equally futile (and uncomfortable) to have the same expectation about body size. But mostly, respect your body, so you can feel better about who you are. It's hard to reject diet mentality if you are unrealistic and overly critical about your body shape" - Tribole & Resch

Tough Love Moment: If you were happy with your body, like reallllly okay with it, you wouldn't have a problem with food. You are fighting food because you believe, deep down that controlling food is a rational behaviour. A behaviour that will lead you to a perfect body. And a perfect body will give you a perfect life.

But here are the facts we've learned so far:

  • Diet's don't work. The research has shown that controlling food has never, ever lead to long-term weight loss for any but a very small % of the population.
  • Hunger is a biological drive. When we try to override it, our body fights back.
  • The shameful voices in our head aren't helping us to behave better around food. The opposite, in fact.
  • Pleasure, not shame/guilt/control, fuels our metabolism.
  • Like binge eating, emotional eating increases in those who are hell bent on approaching food with a weight-loss focused, diet-mentality.
  • All of our attempts to control food (and our bodies) leave us more out of control than ever.

So, as I see it, you have TWO choices:
Door #1:
Continue to try to manipulate your body. Stay stuck in diet mentality. Drive yourself crazy and never have a moment of peace in your life. Oh, and remember, the stats tell us that staying in this food-control frame of mind won't actually make you thinner. In fact, it's quite likely your weight will slowly go UP over time. You'll stay crazy and your body will do exactly what you are resisting.

OR

Door #2:
You let go. You make the decision that your body is perfectly FINE, just as she is.
You consider how you would act if you liked your body and you let go of the old stories that eating food in a relaxed way will make you fat and unloved.

How would you behave differently?
How would you approach food differently?
How would you care for your body differently?

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Your Homework
Make a list of all the things you WOULD do, if you liked your body, AND THEN YOU START DOING THEM.

  • Dress Better
  • Have more fun
  • Eat delicious, healthful food slowly
  • Wear lipstick
  • Be more outgoing
  • Be kinder to others, less moody
  • Get a massage
  • Drink more water.
  • Moisturize
  • "Get it together"
  • Go for that job you've always wanted
  • Start dating again
  • Make time for exercise you love
  • Be more confident
  • Wear a bathing suit on the beach

It's ALL available to you RIGHT NOW. Exactly as you are.
Make your own list....and then get to werk.

Little Note: Body love and Body respect are NOT about one day waking up and delusionaly believing that you are supermodel.

It's about understanding that you don't need to be a super model to be beautiful or worthy of love/affection/belonging. It's about a deep, unconditional belief that you are worthy - just because you exist.

It's also about recognizing that "the supermodel ideal" is a societal invention that is available to less than 5% of the population and that continuing to engage is drastic behaviours around food and exercise, in order to try to fit into a mold that will likely never be you, is an abuse against your body.

It's about embracing that over-used word "authenticity" and daring to be exactly who you are...and to find NEW role models. Women who are living beautiful, bold, exceptional lives in gorgeous bodies of all shapes and size. THAT is the new goal.

Day 9 - Move and Feel the Difference

Time to talk about.....EXERCISE.
Or as I like to call it, MOVEMENT.
What can I say? I'm a new-age hippie at heart.

But first, we need to check in on yesterday.
I'm dying to know: how did it feel to contemplate the thought that your body might be fine, exactly as she is?? Were you resistant or were you into it?

It's definitely easier to love a body that is behaving (eating healthy food, running 5K a day, fitting into tiny short-shorts, etc).....in the same way that it's easier to love a child (or a pet ) that is behaving. But that's not real love. Real love is unconditional. Real love is accepting your child, even when she's been in the principal's office FOUR TIMES this month, and it's understanding that even when your body is at her worst, she deserves care and respect.

Body love means accepting yourself as you, imperfectly, are and attending to your physical and emotional needs without ever needing to justify why you deserve it.

Alright....moving on.
{pun intended}

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Day 9 - MOVE - and Feel the Difference.

When it comes to movement, most women I work with fall into two categories:

1. They don't move at all. Either because they only exercise while dieting/eating well and when they feel their food is not perfect they throw exercise out the window OR they've over-exercised themselves into complete exhaustion (see #2).

2. They exercise in an anxious, compulsive way. In this case, exercise is very much about earning food or burning it off. It's punitive and prescribed and - like the unreasonable rules we often have around food - unreasonable exercise rules typically exist. For years, I felt that the only thing I could count as exercise was a 1hour+ long run. NOTHING ELSE COUNTED. I'd sacrifice social hiking or walks or swimming at the beach to get that run in. My other, extreme, belief at that time was that the only way I could eat was if I ran - so my life REVOLVED around running. I ran myself into the ground. I had a permanently swollen ankle that HUNG over my shoes (cute), bursitis, chronic knee problems, and I looked ten years older than I am now.

When I finally stopped running....I stopped for a LONG TIME. I was just so tired (see #1).

Thankfully, I found my way back to exercise in a healthy way - because movement is SO FUNDAMENTAL to this process. Movement connects you to your body, it makes you feel more energetic, improves your mood and motivation. The benefits of movement span SO many areas of your life and it's a great first step toward getting touch with your body's needs/wants - especially when it feels too hard to start with food.

Why it's dangerous to link exercise with weight-loss:

  • When linked to weight-loss, people tend to crash-exercise in the same way they crash-diet. It's all or nothing, on the wagon/off the wagon exercising. Women start when they are feeling motivated by the start of a new food plan and then abandon exercise (and all it's many benefits) when the diet falls apart.
  • Even when they are enjoying exercise and it's not linked to food, many women will stop exercise when they aren't getting the weight results they want.
  • When exercise is for the purpose of weight-loss, women begin to ignore their body signals around movement in the same way they do around food while dieting - they will exercise themselves to injury and/or a hatred of exercise
  • Studies have shown that exercise does NOT often lead to weight loss.....so, not a great idea to link those two concepts!!!!


The major point here is this:
When done right, exercise is a highly enjoyable way to spend a piece of your day, with a number of incredible health benefits - physically, mentally, and emotionally. When you uncouple exercise and weight you are free to choose movement that feels joyful and fun and you can reap ALL the health benefits of that movement without getting discouraged about whether or not your body is shifting the way you think it should.

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Homework

It's time to get out of exercise mentality! (diet mentality's evil, equally disturbed, twin).
Let go of all your preconceived ideas about what exercise SHOULD be and start to find ways to move your body that you actually enjoy.
I want you to experiment with movement for FUN.
Not for steps or calories or to beat a record. JUST FOR FUN.

Ideas:

  • Yin Yoga
  • Pilates (on a reformer is my fav!!!)
  • A dance class
  • Swim in the ocean/lake
  • Walk with a podcast or favourite playlist
  • Jog with a friend
  • A Crossfit class
  • HITT training at home
  • Try a new movement APP: I'm loving AAPTIV right now.
  • Rent a paddleboard
  • A barre class
  • Play tennis
  • Bootcamp
  • A long slow bike ride around town
  • Walk to work
  • Walk at lunch
  • Walk anytime, anywhere, anyplace - it's cheap, convenient, and relaxing

I want you to think about finding exercise that you look forward to, movement you crave, you enjoy before, during, and after doing it......instead of just when it's done.

Day 10 - Gentle Nutrition

Okay, so, somewhere around the "Making Peace with Food" part of this process - many women begin to believe that I don't care about nutrition at all. That I'm a doughnut slingin', Twizzler tootin', Coke guzzlin' cowgirl.

Au contraire, mes amis!!!
While I know that there is space for all foods (work and play) in our lives, I absolutely believe that food and movement impact our health and I truly enjoy (and crave) healthful foods.
Once I feel that women are out of diet mentality - that they have legalized food and neutralized the food police - I feel ready to circle back to the discussion of nutrition.

But you know what comes first.....how was yesterday??
Did you get your body movin'?
How did it feel?

Day 10 - Gentle Nutrition
As I mentioned above, I typically only get into this topic when I'm sure women are ready.....often several months into working together. In my experience, women cannot make truly healthy choices for themselves until they leave diet mentality behind. So, with that in mind, read this through and maybe tuck it away for later. This is a step in the process that you can revisit over and over and over again, as your gentle food rules may change. No rush to get it done today.

An important reminder before diving into Gentle Food Rules:
Health is not black or white. It is incredibly dynamic, complex, and forgiving.


My absolute LEAST favourite quote is:
β€œEvery time you eat or drink, you are either feeding disease or fighting it.”

WHAT?! That's just not true.

While I aim to regularly feed myself foods that make me feel energetic and well.....I know that I am a healthy person, even when I'm eating M&Ms. Incorporating a balance of play food into your diet does not make you unwell.

Nutrition is the science of the complex interactions between the foods we put in our body and our health. There is evidence of a wide range of people eating a wide range of foods - with varied nutrient density, living very well (and not well). The science is murky. For every vegan that lives to 100, you can find a Big Mac eater that lives to a 105. Conversely, the sad fact is that, vegans get cancer too. So do people who eat Paleo and #clean and all the right macros. Life and health are inherently unpredictable and your best bet to live the life that you enjoy the most - a life where you feel great AND you're having a really, really good time.

Food and exercise (and other lifestyle choices) IMPACT our health but they don't ultimately DICTATE it....so you can relieve yourself of the burden of ruining your health every time you take a bite of something currently labelled "unhealthy".

The goal with gentle nutrition is to figure out what feels good in your body and in your life. To balance work and play food while maintaining A HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD, space for social events, holidays, emotional needs, changing nutrient and calorie requirements, and intuitive food desires.

Gentle Food Rules from the Pros:

  • Geneen Roth:
    • Eat when you are hungry.
    • Eat sitting down in a calm environment. This does not include the car.
    • Eat without distractions. Distractions include radio, television, newspapers, books, intense or anxiety-producing conversations or music.
    • Eat what your body wants.
    • Eat until you are satisfied.
    • Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others.
    • Eat with enjoyment, gusto and pleasure.
  • Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch: Enjoy eating food. Not too much - not too little. Mostly what satisfies you.
  • Michael Pollan: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly Plants.

See that??
No meal plans or numbers or rigid boundaries. Just guidelines.


The ADVANCED VERSION
I think it's also important to include gentle guidelines around HOW you want to live and what's important to you. For example, do you really value eating vegetarian or local? Is eating organic or from scratch something you care about? Maybe sitting down to eat at the table as a family is MORE important to you that cooking from scratch and so you order-in occasionally to make it happen. Make sure to work these values into your gentle food rules.

Lastly, I encourage women to write out some non-negotiables in their gentle food rules.
Things like -

  • Dieting no longer has a place in my life anymore.
  • I'll never sacrifice my mental, emotional, and/or physical health for a few pounds.
  • I listen and am interested to nutrition science facts but ultimately, my body knows best
  • I pay attention to how my body feels, not how much she weighs
  • I value FLEXIBILITY above all else, because life is tough enough.
  • Food should be fun and enjoyable.
  • Etc.
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Your Homework

Suss out a quick draft of your own Gentle Food Rules.


Consider what feels good in your body, what works in your life, AND what types of food behaviours you refuse to engage in.

Jot it down. Take a pic. Post it on Instagram or in the Facebook Group! I'd love to see.

Welllll, that's it folks! Day 10 is done!

You have the visualization to help you deepen into the work and in the following two weeks we'll work to connect with our intuitive voice on a deeper level!