It happened again today. It happens pretty frequently these days. I see someone that I haven’t seen in a while and they congratulate me on how much weight I’ve lost and ask what I did to accomplish this. And I answer, “I finally stopped trying”. I then usually need to explain how I came to adopt an intuitive health approach and what exactly that means.
For most of my life, I’ve fit into the “average” category, not overly heavy, nor overly thin, not an elite athlete, but relatively fit and always basically healthy. However, like so many of us, I was constantly plagued by the pressure to weigh a bit less, be a bit smaller, look more like the “ideal”. I eventually found myself down a very common rabbit-hole of extreme “wellness” plans.
I was their perfect target. I had spent years searching for the magic cure that would help my chronic migraines, chronic pain, fatigue and other issues. Seduced by the promises of increased energy, reduced inflammation and pain and other health benefits, I was taken in time and again. And of course the promise of the ever-elusive “ideal” body-shape was always a strong enticement. Plus, these plans were always marketed as health and wellness protocols as opposed to diets or weight loss plans, making it that much easier to justify every new attempt. This pattern continued for around 5 or 6 years during which I tried most of the well-known programs out there. And if I didn’t try it, I at least read the book. I can probably tell you the basic framework, ideology and science behind any popular program from the past 10 years.
After more than 5 years, ridiculous amounts of time and energy, not to mention money, not only had I not achieved any of the promised results, but instead I was more uncomfortable in my body, both physically and emotionally than at any previous point in my life. I was at my heaviest weight to date, my chronic pain and headaches had not improved, my fitness markers were their worst ever and even medical markers like blood pressure were starting to creep into unhealthy territories. I had reached what Tribole and Resch refer to as “diet bottom”. I had reached the realization that none of these diets would work for me and decided that I would never go on another diet ever again. However, despite knowing that dieting was not the way, I wasn’t sure what my path forward looked like.
I allowed myself the time to find my way, eventually swearing off the scale (I haven’t weighed myself in over a year and will be talking about that in a future post) and eventually finding an intuitive health approach. Over time, I came to several realizations and made a series of commitments to myself which I soon discovered closely mirrored the 10 principles of Intuitive Eating.
For those not familiar with Intuitive Eating, it is a “mind-body self-care eating framework” developed by Evelyn Tribole MS, RDN, CEDR-S and Elyse Resch MS, RDN, CEDR-S, Fiaedp, FADA, FAND that focuses on trusting the body’s ability to monitor and communicate its needs. IE is often portrayed in an over simplified way, that you can eat whatever you want without guilt. Other times it’s portrayed as just eating only when hungry and stopping when full. And while both of these concepts do fit WITHIN an IE model, Intuitive Eating is an extensive and nuanced practice that honors nutrition, self-acceptance, judgement-free growth and much more.
Since embracing an intuitive approach to my health and wellness, my weight has re-stabilized and I finally feel better than at any other point in my life, both physically and emotionally. In my case, this does mean that I have lost a significant amount of weight, but I want to be clear that Intuitive Eating is not a weight loss plan. When you tune in, and listen to your body, your weight will likely stabilize at a healthy point, but that will not necessarily be the “ideal” weight you’ve been searching for. Part of intuitive health and Intuitive Eating is working to accept the shape and size that YOUR body is designed to be in a healthy, balanced state.
This is probably the most challenging part of mastering intuitive health. I’ve come a long way over the past year, but learning to accept my body in its healthy balanced state despite its “imperfections” will probably be a life-long journey. Part of our goal with Wellness is for EveryBody is to help all of you out there on this journey towards health, balance and self-acceptance.
For coaching regarding intuitive health, contact me at k[email protected]
For more information about Intuitive Eating visit https://www.intuitiveeating.org/