What does it actually mean to “listen to your body”? And why is it such a big deal?

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You know what it’s like. Having that best friend who can eat taco bell as a second dinner and snack on gummy worms all day but has washboard abs year round.

Meanwhile you work hard to stay in shape, eat right, not too much and make somewhat of an effort to workout and yet, you’ll never look like her.

Your thighs may hug a little tighter and your love handles may have a little more love to give.

And when you ask her how she does it, she probably responds with something along the lines of: “I usually do like 50 sit ups before bed and grab smoothie king a few times week.”

I mean, I’ll just say it:  it’s annoying.

And then you become desperate for answers.

A clear cut plan you can follow to a T.

So what do us 21st century consumers do when we want answers?

We seek the face of the almighty social media!

Where you go confident you’ll find answers but you actually leave feeling more confused than ever when you see fitness influencers  have perfect plates of avocado toast for breakfast but then go out for multiple glasses of merlot and midnight drives through in-n-out burger.

Yet, you feel like these people are always telling you to “listen to your body” or to “eat intuitively” – but when you listen to your body all you hear is your tummy growling and your intuition telling you to “eat da cookie”.

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So you try to analyze these people’s diets and fitness routines to see if you can copy verbatim and get their results….

Are they paleo? Nope, they ate toast. Okay, figured it out – they’re clean eaters. Wait, they just had chips and queso…for the second this week. Ah, got it – they must do intense workouts everyday… Hold on, another day of just yoga?

Girl, I get it!

And I used to do the EXACT same thing for years.

Until I learned the holy grail of what it actually means to listen to MY body.

And the main point being: MY body. Not HER body.

And to be honest, the main way to make this successful is

  • To be willing to accept where YOUR body lands when you listen to its cues.
    • Accept yourself now – as you are… this is the only true starting point.
  • Eat when you’re actually hungry/ a little grumbly – but not starving.
    • What’s my level of hunger? Do I need a snack or a meal?
  • What do you want and need?
    • What are my cravings telling me? What is my body asking for?
    • If I avoiding what I’m craving, will I end up thinking about it? If so: have and savor it! If I choose to WAIT for something that’s coming later on today, will I be happy I chose to forgo this temptation to better enjoy the treat I’ll be having later? If so: move on and know you chose what was best for you in THIS moment.
  • Choose what will make me feel good Mentally AND Physically.
    • Will I be happy with decision NOW and in an hour?
    • Will I feel good, full, and energized after this?
    • How much of this can I have to feel okay?
  • Make decisions based on your mental/physical goals – not on your emotions.
    • Sometimes that means considering you want to feel confident for date night tonight, or not feel bloated for the beach tomorrow. – and THAT. IS. OKAY! (GASP, I know, but you have full permission to want to feel good!!)
    • What will I be proud of?
    • What will allow me to enjoy my time with those I’m around?
  • Mindfully and with gusto!
    • give yourself permission to trust your decisions and to enjoy them
  • Until satisfied – not stuffed!
    • stop half way and say: do i want to go on? do I need more?
  • Any movement that you enjoy and have time for – but don’t skip this – the mental benefits far outweigh the physical.
    • What does your body feel like doing?
    • What do you enjoy?
    • Can you schedule at least 15 minutes into your day?
    • Are you just tired or does your body NEED the rest?

This list is by no means exhaustive.

Actually, one of my favorite fellow health bloggers @fitlicy, has an absolutely outstanding post about intuitive eating on her blog: “What Is Intuitive Eating, Really?

But I thought it would be helpful to see how this fits into my life as an example:

It looks like mostly fresh ingredients with all the main micro (veggies and fruits) and macronutrients (fat, carbs, protein).

It looks like what will satisfy my craving, but also fill me without feeling sluggish and overly full.

It’s ice cream with my husband after fresh grilled chicken for dinner.

It’s making brownies for a friend and licking the bowl.

It’s a sweaty hiit workout on a Monday morning, and a slow walk on a Sunday.

Sometimes it’s choosing the hard “no” of passing on the candy I don’t reallllly want, in order to have the easy “yes” of knowing I made the right decision for my body and those that I get to love and serve daily.

And for me, sometimes it’s salad AND fries.

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I ask myself: what do I want my daughter to emanate one day? Can I and do I WANT to keep this up forever?

So it’s always connecting to that deeper “why“.

But most of all: it’s grace when I don’t live up to what I know is best for me, it’s not continuing to say “screw it” when I’ve had a little more fun than planned, and it’s continuing to check in with myself to see if what I’m doing is ADDING to and AMPLIFYING my life, rather than filling my mind with more stress and reminders of why I’ll never be like her. 

Learn what it is that makes you feel sad when you go try clothes on in the morning, or defeated yet again after a meal.

Because I can tell you: I’ve been both miserable and happy at a size 12, and I’ve been and at a size 0. Now I consistently and joyfully fall somewhere in between depending on what life throws my way that season.

I had to figure out what foods, habits, and thoughts caused me to beat myself up, feel a lack of self control, or were just plain tempting to be around but not all that satisfying.

And then, I asked myself: what foods, habits, and thoughts allow me to feel built up, energized, balanced but not deprived, and confident in myself and my ability to care for ME.

And you’ll have to figure out what this looks like for you – but don’t chase the physical goals. Rather, ask yourself what will ALLOW you to CLEARLY SEE your worth, and not only to see your worth, but to FEEL it and WALK in it daily.

And that doesn’t come from toned abs and a squeaky clean diet – but it comes from stewarding your WHOLE life in a way that allows you to best serve others and display the joy and peace of Christ in all that you do.

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If you liked this post, go read: How To Stop Self Sabotaging Your Weight Loss/Health [Or Your Life In General]

 

Life comes first – and blogging falls in line somewhere after that – so sometimes I share what’s on my heart on Facebook and Instagramand occasionally through email (mostly just a random life/blog update or some extra soul encouragement).

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