Since I frequently talk about and refer to intuitive/mindful eating in my posts and tweets, I thought I would share my experience with this approach to health so you could see just why it is so important to me.
Growing up, weight was always somewhere on my mind. I come from a family of overweight and obese people who always discussed weight and have had various medical conditions related to their health status. I also was a dancer from age 2 to 18, so weight always came up even if it wasn’t purposefully. In addition to dance, I played basketball and volleyball. These extracurricular activities kept me fit, but one called for a long, slender body, while the other produced more muscles, particularly in the thigh region. If you know me, you also know that my derriere is a little on the voluptuous side which always kept me self conscious. Needless to say, I had a love/hate relationship with my body and would diet occasionally.
Upon my first year of college, most of these extracurricular activities went out the window as I explored my new freedom. I quickly found myself 20 lbs heavier and decided that needed to change. I then began the journey of an even more intense yo-yo dieting adventure. I tried no carbs, the cabbage soup diet, low calorie, etc, etc. Then I found my favorite one, the Special K diet. I was a huge fan of cereal and this diet allowed for a cup of Special K for breakfast and lunch with a modest dinner, so I thought it was a winner. I paired this diet with exercise as I was training for a group trip to hike the Grand Canyon and Half Dome in Yosemite. To my surprise, I started losing weight! The more and more I did it, the more obsessed I got. I eventually got to the point that I would not let myself have more than 1200 calories a day (because I read it was the lowest amount you could go to and still be healthy-HA!) and would be extra happy if I was a few calories under. I had a system worked out that if I knew there was a party or get together coming up, I would eat enough to lose a pound or two before the event so I wouldn’t feel bad if I ate too much there. I felt like I had this dieting thing down to a science and couldn’t believe I hadn’t done it earlier!
While this all seemed so amazing, there were a lot of not-so-good things going on that I chose to ignore. I avoided eating out with friends and family when I could or would only order the lowest calorie item on the menu. I would obsess over what I was going to eat everyday to make sure I wouldn’t go over my limit, and this would cause great distress if I had to go off my plan for any unforseen reason. I would get irritated very easily at anything that disrupted my routine. Worse of all, I later got to a point where I started to binge and couldn’t stop…
This is when I got a wake up call. I was in school to be a dietitian and I knew I couldn’t help patients if I continued like this. I first started to recover by visiting the website FindingBalance.com. This was a great Christian-based resource for eating disorders and disordered eating that resonated well with me. I also came across the books Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD and Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst. These really opened my eyes to what was really going on with my eating habits and that breaking the binge cycle required more than just changing my food choices and exercising more.
The process to becoming an intuitive eater was not easy or quick. I have seen a lot of failures and successes. Even now I have moments, when life gets out of control, that I feel like I could fix it if I could just eat a whole box of cookies. It is an ongoing process and requires work. I can’t tell you how or when it clicked, but I can tell you that it did. I’m sure it was around the time I realized I couldn’t fix this problem myself and needed God’s help. I had to admit that I was weak and let Him be my strength. I can tell you that now, while I am not the size I always wanted to be, I feel the most healthy I have ever been, mentally, physically, and spiritually. I eat foods that fuel my body well and I also indulge in my favorite “unhealthy” foods. I am active, but you won’t find me doing any crazy workout regimen. I love my body more than I ever have and thank God for it often.
If you want to know any more information about my journey to becoming an intuitive eater or want to know how to become one yourself, I would be MORE than happy to talk to you!