Intuitive Eating – Update

IMG_4225I’m now on the last module of Christy Harrison’s Intuitive Eating course, so it seems a good time to reflect on where I’m at and what I’ve learned. I love that the course was self-paced and I could take as long as I wanted to work through and think about each module. It was certainly about more than food, just like the book. It was about really getting to know yourself and getting in touch with your intuition.

For me, the course has definitely met and exceeded any expectations and hopes that I had.

Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch promise in their excellent book that when you become an Intuitive Eater that one of three things will happen. You will lose weight, gain weight, or maintain your current weight. In my case, I have gained weight. I have no idea of the numbers as I don’t weigh myself but I know how clothes fit and I’ve definitely got bigger. Learning to accept this has been a big part of the course for me. But I realise that following the tenets of Intuitive Eating is actually the way for my body to reach its set range, and I can’t tell my body what that range is. That’s just not how it works.

I’m sure that there will still be times when the weight bothers me because I live in this society where we are constantly bombarded with the message that our weight and size determine our value. Like many others before me, I call bullshit on that. But between podcasts, Facebook groups and following a heap of awesome body positive people on Instagram (some time soon I’ll share links of all my favourites) I know that it will only be a temporary glitch and that I’ll get through it and move on. Even though I probably meet less societal standards of beauty than I have at any other time in my life, I feel good about myself and the way I look in a way I never have before. Considering we’ve recently moved into an apartment with a lot of mirrors, including in the kitchen, this is great news!

I don’t think I have any more ‘Honeymoon Periods‘ to deal with. I want to eat balanced meals most of the time and if I feel like chocolate, or a donut, or ice cream, I have it and I don’t feel any guilt about it. It really does make you crave it much less when you take away all restriction. I feel so at peace with many foods that I never could have imagined I would. I’m enjoying cooking and thinking about preparing meals more than I have possibly ever.

As for Intuitive Movement, this has been an interesting process for me. Initially I cut right back on what I was doing fitness-wise as I knew that I had a lot of body composition and weight loss thoughts in my head when I was exercising. I wanted to look strong and fit to be a ‘good vegan advocate’ seeing as this is the message that is so prevalent in the vegan movement.

I did yoga for 2 months, which I did get benefit out of, especially as it was an extremely body positive and accepting class that I joined. A lot of the focus was on having the right to take up space in the world, which was a message that I needed to hear and absorb. But I eventually realised that yoga is just not something I love to do. I can see why other people do, but it’s just not for me.

I’ve cut back on my running compared to what I used to do and am enjoying it much more. I’ve taken the pressure away to be faster and go longer every time I run (another thing I thought I should do to be a better vegan advocate, ugh) and just get up and run as much as I feel like at the time. And it’s so much more fun once you take away the expectations and just enjoy it.

Lifting weights is something else I enjoy but I had to let that go for a while too. I had to wait until those voices in my head weren’t pushing me to focus on all the wrong things. And I love to lift weights because it feels awesome. I honestly don’t care what response my body has in terms of composition because I just love the feeling. And my partner’s kid is a personal trainer and can give advice so I don’t have to sift through weight loss and body building crap to find the information I need. I made the mistake of googling something on it this morning. Won’t do that again.

And how has veganism fit into this whole thing? Honestly for me it’s not even an issue. Animals just aren’t ours to exploit and I could no more eat a chicken or a pig than I could eat my dog. Which is never under any circumstances in case that wasn’t abundantly clear 🙂 And the same goes for eggs and dairy as the harm is at least as high there. To say that I am restricting my diet because I am vegan is like saying that I am restricting my diet because I don’t eat dogs or humans. Technically true in a sense, but completely irrelevant in reality.

Something that has been reiterated during the course and in various podcasts has been the importance of knowing one’s values and living in line with those values. For me this has to unequivocally mean being vegan in the same way that it means being unequivocally feminist and anti-racist and body positive.

All in all, the verdict is pretty darn positive for this Intuitive Eating stuff. In the picture above I am in the city eating a Vego bar which is a delicious fair trade chocolate bar. This is me now. Happy and eating what makes me feel good. I consider myself to be an Intuitive Eater. I feel fantastic physically and mentally. I think my mental health is better than it has ever been at any other point in my life and my physical health certainly isn’t suffering. I feel happier than I’ve ever been and I look forward to what comes next.

~ B

 

 

Advertisements

Today’s challenge

I’m taking a few days off work at the moment to get a bunch of things done that I don’t really have time for usually. One of the things on today’s list was to buy some jeans. A couple of pairs of jeans that I had before would fit me on ‘good days’ but mostly they were too tight and uncomfortable.

So today I set out to buy a couple of new pairs in a size that fit. There’s nothing like looking at yourself in a change room mirror to really test your focus on Intuitive Eating and body positivity and not wanting to change what you eat based on what your body looks like. Especially when the comparison you start doing against all the others in the shop leaves you feeling pretty darn inadequate.

I’m glad that I went in feeling good. As I said, I’ve had a couple of days off and I’ve been checking things off my list and the sun was shining so I was feeling pretty happy and relaxed. That certainly helped but I still started doubting myself, my worth and everything I’m doing at the moment.

I’m also glad that I’ve been listening to a bunch of Intuitive Eating podcasts as I had downloaded all the available episodes of Food Psych. So I kept reminding myself to think about how I feel physically at the moment rather than the shape of my body. I’ve been running 3 x per week and doing a 30 minute strength workout 3 x per week and feeling great during both. I’ve also noticed my fitness in between times, climbing stairs or running to public transport, is pretty good. I managed to mostly replace the negative messages with helpful ones.

I’m still tempted to start bringing back some food rules, but I know that’s not for the best. I’ve also just enrolled in Christy Harrison’s 13 week Intuitive Eating course, because I know that I need some help reinforcing the concepts. I’m pretty sure that this is something I want to be doing for the rest of my life, so I figured it was worth the investment. Today’s challenge has made it clear to me that I was right to think I need reinforcement. There’s still a way to go before I can truly call myself an Intuitive Eater.

~ B

Being flexible

IMG_1681.JPGIt’s important, as much as you may (or may not!) have a routine or a program, to allow yourself to swap things around when you need or want to.

Yesterday, I was scheduled to run but when my alarm went off I could hear it absolutely pouring with rain outside. Now I don’t mind a bit of a run in the rain but this was really heavy and I did not feel like it. For a moment I contemplated rolling over for another half hours sleep but instead I decided to do the workout I had planned for today.

Now I’ve always loved doing upper body weights. I enjoy lifting and I especially love to feel that my muscles have worked hard afterwards. I feel strong then and I like it. So I got up and did some biceps and triceps exercises and after a good stretch I felt fantastic.

It’s been a while since I have felt so good because I had been too caught up in eating the ‘right’ way and looking right and fitting workouts in at times that didn’t suit me, etc etc. Now that my primary goal with exercise and food is to do what I feel like doing, I’m remembering what it was like to love it.

I felt so good that I wanted to run around punching the air and I even did a bit because why the hell not, right?

More specific goals will come but for the moment, I still need to get out of the diet mindset and the persistent thoughts that exercise is for the purpose of weight loss and looking a certain way. Until I’ve worked through that, it will just mean going backwards if I try to do more.

It’s a slow process and that’s okay. Whatever you’re doing today, I hope it’s something that feels good 🙂

~ B

Starting out

I’ve just finished reading the Intuitive Eating book and am already feeling like it’s going to change my life for the better. I know that probably sounds hyperbolic or whatever, but I’m not sure I can even describe the feelings I’ve had reading and realising just how damaged that I and my relationship with food and with my body, had become.

I thought that because I wasn’t ‘dieting’ but rather ‘eating healthy’ that I was above all the body issues but I realised that it was just another term to cover up really trying to do the exact same thing.

Throughout childhood, messages from everywhere, but especially from home, were that skinny was good and that anything else was bad. Food intake, both quantity and type was watched closely, but mostly any sign of fat was commented on. That kind of thing is hard to let go of.

It looks like I definitely hadn’t and vegan groups had just made it all that much harder. There is so much focus on ‘health’ in the vegan movement that is often thinly (or not even) disguised fat shaming. It is often said that if you’re not super fit, healthy and attractive, then you are a bad vegan and not a good representative for veganism. This is bullshit!

Most recently, I had read Dr McDougall’s book ‘The Starch Solution’. I had thought that I was in a really good headspace and would be able to take in the health message and learn about all the ‘right’ foods to eat but just not take in the constant fat shaming talk that is throughout the book.

I was wrong. I didn’t realise how far I was getting back down that hole until I was really struggling. I was feeling mentally and emotionally crap and really struggling to force myself to get out and exercise and not enjoying it at all. I used to enjoy exercise so this was a big problem.

I know that to get to the point of true Intuitive Eating will take some time and I am sure that there will be stumbles along the way, but some of the basic tenets of the concept have already helped me enormously. To change the mindset from ‘bad’ and ‘good’ foods to, if you don’t love it, don’t eat it and if you love it, savour it. No food is off limits and all food will always be available (yes I’m vegan, and no I don’t consider products of animal harm to be food, so this still applies in full).

The other basic concept, which is one I’ve followed in the past but had somehow lost, is that exercise is to make you feel good, nothing more, nothing less. It is not to lose weight. So I came up with a plan that fits in with my busy schedule but is also in line with what I love to do. I work out best in the mornings and I really only have half an hour (getting up at 4:40 is quite early enough!)

So now I am running 3 x per week. I’ve been doing the C25K again and have just finished week 5. I skip the 5 minute cool down as I walk my dog immediately after I run anyway.

3 x per week I do a 30 minute strength workout. Because I’m not a big fan of squats, lunges or push ups, but I don’t mind doing a little bit and I appreciate the benefits, I do 8 squats, 8 lunges and 10 push ups each time. Then I do a couple of sets of weights alternating between arms, chest & back, and shoulders. Then I finish with either a set of crunches or a 60 second plank. Enjoyable, quick and pretty well rounded I think.

I’ve been doing this for around 3 weeks now and I’ve been looking forward to my workouts again for the first time in ages. Saturday is generally my rest day as I’m flat out taking my kid to all the sporting activities.

I will blog about my ups and downs on this journey because I like writing and I think it will help me to keep all my thoughts together. I also like the idea of it maybe helping someone else in the same way that I often find comfort and assistance in others’ words.

If you do decide to follow my journey, I hope you enjoy it. And just remember, all bodies are good bodies.

~ B