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

 

 

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The honeymoon period

img_4100When you are in the first stages of Intuitive Eating, there is what people call a honeymoon period. Because you are giving yourself permission to eat anything you want as much as you want, initially your body reacts with excitement due to the former restrictions and wants to eat ALL THE THINGS!

The funny thing about the honeymoon period is that its length can vary and it can even vary for different foods. In my case, I have definitely experienced varying lengths of honeymoon periods.

There’s a business called Doughnut Time that has a branch not far from my work. They make at least 2 different vegan doughnuts each day and they’re particularly tasty.

When I first started the Intuitive Eating program, I went and bought myself a doughnut a few days in a row. This was part of making sure my brain was truly convinced that I could have one whenever I wanted to. If I felt like one, I had one. Within a few short weeks I have realised that on most days I just don’t feel like a doughnut. The excitement disappears when there are no restrictions. In their book, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch refer to this as habituation. The other night I shared one with my partner as they had a new flavour we hadn’t tried before that looked particularly delicious. I was quite satisfied with half and have no idea when I’ll want another.

On the other hand, I have had a much longer honeymoon period with chick’n burgers.

There’s a great chain of veggie fast food here called Lord of the Fries. They do burgers, hot dogs, fries, etc and are fully vegetarian. Everything on the menu can be veganised, all their sauces (including their delicious Belgian mayo!) are vegan and they have vegan cheese as an option. There are 4 of their stores within an easy walk of my office and I’m a fan of their chick’n burger.

When I started Intuitive Eating, I consciously gave myself permission to go to Lord of the Fries for lunch whenever I felt like it. What I didn’t realise for a while though is that I had only given myself pseudo-permission or partial permission. While I thought I was being free with my permission I found that after I had already been twice in one week, I was thinking that I should get something ‘healthier’ as that was enough for one week. These thoughts undermined the permission I thought I’d given myself and I was still feeling restricted even though I’d consciously said okay.

Once I realised this is what I had done, I had to be very clear to give myself unconditional permission and go every day for a chick’n burger if that’s what I felt like that day. I ended up having one every day for a week. The restrictive thoughts kept wanting to come back but I accepted them for what they are; a relic of past dieting and cultural messages and noticed them and then let them go. I’m confident I have now finally managed to convince myself that I truly can get a chick’n burger any time I want and I’m starting to notice that I genuinely am wanting them less.

I’m not sure the chick’n burger honeymoon period is quite over yet, and I may still go through a few more honeymoon periods with other foods I haven’t hit yet, but for now I’m feeling pretty chill with where I’m at.

The key is though, you must give yourself full unconditional permission or it just doesn’t work.

I’m sure grateful to Christy’s course for helping me get to this point and I’m excited about where it will take me next

~ B