My Journey Part 3

Posted by Jenn @ livewellfit on February 16th, 2010
Filed under Motivation, My Journey to health | 2 Comments »

Hey there,

How's your day going? I've been sitting at my kitchen table for nearly 6 hours now aside from food, water and bathroom breaks. :) It's just been that kind of day! Monday usually is my most hectic day though. So here we are.

I do have a fantastic workout recap though!!

Workout Challenge continues

I'm kicking some butt people. Today was a fun filled cardio sweat session followed by my 2nd week of Chalean Extreme Burn Circuit 1. I love this day- lots of chest and lunges. Surprisingly my toe held up pretty well, which is an awesome sign of progress. Bit by bit! I'm starting to notice this awesome definition in my arms- my deltoids are not only getting stronger but they actually look strong! Who knew!!! Hard work = results.

Sidenote: a dear friend and reader, Deana, has decided to embark on her own Chalean Extreme challenge! She ordered the program yesterday and will be starting soon enough! Another gal jumping on board and going extreme! Want to join Deana and kick your body in to gear for 90 days? Visit my coach page or email me about the program and we can get you started. I will keep you going each and everyday!

Back to my journey past emotional eating

Need to catch up? My journey part 1 and part 2.

I left you a few days ago with the point where I discovered the book Intuitive Eating. This was my turning point, where I finally began to dream what it would be like, look like and feel like to live fully, to eat fully and to enjoy every moment. And I never turned back!

So what was that first day like you might ask? Well, I got ready for work and decided to put a small piece of paper in my bag. It simply said: you deserve to eat, you deserve to eat well and you decide what to put in your body. May seem silly but this was so powerful to me: I told myself over and over that day that no matter what I chose to put into my body, I deserved to nourish and take care of it. And that was MY CHOICE! I was taking control. I was allowing myself to choose what, why, and when. A day earlier I was only "allowed" to eat X, Y and Z. But today…I could eat A through Z and beyond. Do you see how powerful that can be?

I don't exactly remember what I ate that day actually but from June 1 on I began to practice eating intuitively. I began to live the principles from the book. I did this by constantly referring back to the words that struck me in my heart so that no matter where I was, I could remind myself of what I was doing and how I wanted to lead my life. Over the course of the next year I lost over 45 pounds by eating intuitively. It wasn't easy and I messed up a lot. I struggled a lot. But I did NOT ever fall back to the behaviors that had controlled my life the previous 10 years.

So…that is a lot to chew on and I am going to break down what eating intuitively looks like for me.

Becoming an intuitive eater

1.  I rehearsed the principle that I was at peace with food and that I have unconditional permission to eat. I can't say enough how huge this was for me. I couldn't even remember what it felt like to eat unconditionally nor what it looked like! But the words unconditional permission felt more powerful than anything to me so I used it everyday.

This didn't look "healthy" at first. Some days I would eat poptarts, goldfish and honey nut cherrios. Other days I would eat a bagel, pasta and steak and mashed potatoes. I hadn't eaten mashed potatoes outside of a serious binge for over 5 years! All of this food that had such appeal to me was now part of my world. Often I would think about meals ahead of time, roam the aisles in the store and just wait to see what struck my eye. It was a solid 2 months before the excitement around being able to eat anything I wanted settled down.

The key to eating all of these foods was important: I always listened to my body. If I felt full that I was getting full, I put my fork down even if more than half was still on my plate. I was very purposeful in listening to my body and the cues or signals it gave me. This took tremendous effort and practice. When I would feel full with a gorgeous plate of pasta sitting there, I would check in: "Jenn, how ya feeling? Where is your hunger or fullness? I know that pasta looks incredible and still tastes fabulous but your body is telling you to slow down. Wait 1 minute and have a bite. If you still feel full, put the rest of your plate away and have leftovers tomorrow."

Seems like a logical thing to do right? Not for me. This was totally new! Leaving pasta? Are you kidding! Pasta meant binge in my world and binge meant clear that darn plate and go for seconds! :) Over time I began to do this more automatically. Then soon enough, it was second nature. Soon enough the whole plate of pasta looked delicious but I was more excited about having 2 meals of leftovers than stuffing my face. Monumental, no? :)

2. I began to journal throughout the day. My journal was a place for me to write down not what I ate but how I felt before and even after I ate. Or if I was having a particularly tough day, I wrote down other things as well. It was my place to just express, anything. My journal also became my reminder to slow down, think about how I was feeling and then respond accordingly.

3. I created a support system. I finally started to lean on the people in my life. Sometimes they didn't even know I was doing it. I learned a tremendous amount from my fiance on approaching food as an enjoyable part of your day but not a part that dictates you, your mood or your reactions. He showed me that while food has a great level of satisfaction tied to it, it is also fuel for our body that provides energy and nutrients. I also observed and tried to learn from friends who I felt ate with an intuitive mind. It's incredible what you can learn from the friend who will eat her french fries and enjoy every moment of it! But will leave half of them there if she feels full.

4. I began to incorporate more of who I truly was into my life. Sounds like I was living without doing. :) In a way, I was. Every event, function, dinner, date, vacation…everything I had planned in my years of emotional eating were influenced by my state of mind and what I was doing with food. I had lost what truly made me happy for ME, not because I happened to feel in control that day. I started experimenting with new things. I was reminded of how much I love photography, the outdoors, cooking, baking, seeing movies, shopping for shoes, taking group fitness classes. I had forgotten what these things felt like without the cloud of what to eat next over my head. And it felt darn good!

5. I became more mindful. What is mindfulness? I've been learning a lot about this topic in my wellness coaching program and would like to spend more time on it but here's the gist: when you are mindful, you are completely present. You are aware of how you feel, what your body is doing, the environment you are in. Your mind is completely focused on the moment that you are in, not the 50 things waiting for you at home, what the person in front of you is wearing or what you forgot to do last night. One hundred percent present.

I started to become more mindful of how I ate. I began to pay attention to my food with great detail! How do those poptarts taste and why do I enjoy them? What is it about the brown sugar that I enjoy so much? Are there things I like better and do I TRULY want another bite? This process was a part of what helped the power I had given food dissipate. The bag of goldfish are just an okay snack to me now. I have to really crave and think about them before I will truly enjoy them. Through being mindful of my food and how it tastes, I realized that I actually don't like anything made by Snack Wells and I don't enjoy risotto. Two things that I used to pawn over and obsess about when I couldn't have them. Now the taste doesn't really satisfy me so I move on and pick something else.

6. I let go of the pressure. I let go of the idea of what I was supposed to look like, that being thin meant I was more of a person and that I needed to look like anyone else but myself. I no longer ate because it made my waist smaller or because I could fit in that fabulous dress in the closet. I ate because it made my heart, my mind and my spirit happy. I began to kickbox not because the magazine promised me cut arms and a small behind but because I felt alive again. I was no longer trying to be someone I wasn't already. I started to live believing, truly believing that everything I am now was everything I should be. Any changes out the outside, well let's just say they were the result of nature doin it's thing. :)

All of the above strategies happened to work for me, for my experience and for my needs. Everyone is so uniquely and wonderfully different so my ideas might not help at all! For example, I don't eat mindlessly in front of the TV and I'm not a late night snacker. Two things that are often a component to emotional eating. So things that might for those situations may not be a part of what worked for me.

Regardless of how you view food and what your experience has been, I think learning about what it means to eat intuitively is so valuable. These are behaviors that not only keep our bodies healthy but they keep our minds satisfied and balanced.

Ways for YOU to overcome emotional eating

There is so much information out there on emotional eating, disordered eating, bingeing or anything that troubles you. I will list a few sites at the bottom but below is a list of the most common suggestions for people who are struggling with eating:

1. Look at your relationship with food. What does food mean to you and how do you use food in your life? Is it a reward? Pay attention to how you make food choices and if you feel something is wrong, it might be time to seek help and start learning.

2. Stress management. If you have any level of stress in your life, it will impact your body in various ways..especially what you eat. Think about your level of stress and whether you need to reduce it.

3. Journal. Create a place for you to write down your thoughts and emotions throughout the day. Are you unsure about whether you feel you eat intuitively? Experiment for 3 days: write down how you feel before and after each meal then take a step back and see what you learn. What guides your food choices?

4. Exercise. Staying active not only helps your body but it helps your mind. Find exercise that excites you and makes you feel more energized so that it is a part of your day that you look forward to!

5. Find distractions. Do you eat because you are bored, stressed, tired, frustrated or sad? Most of us do, no matter how intuitive we are. :) Well, find distractions. What helps you, calms you, lowers your anxiety, excites you or allows you to release emotion. Develop a tool box of things you can turn to that don't involve the kitchen. 

6. Seek help. One of my greatest regrets in my experience was not seeking help from a counselor or therapist. My struggles were not meant to be solved or dealt with alone. If I had sought out the support of a professional I know I would have understood and learned about my emotional eating at a much earlier point. A counselor can help you understand where your decisions and behaviors come from, how to deal with your emotional experience and how to relearn.

I hope my very involved and long winded journey opened your eyes to what emotional eating sometimes looks like, how it can take over your world and that you can move past it. I am not perfect and I still have difficult days and there are still days where I miss the rush a binge gave me. BUT…I know how to refocus my energy, ask for support and treat my body with respect.

I am not an expert, I cannot give medical advice and I am not a nutritionist. But I would be happy to talk with you about your experiences, how I might help and answer questions.

Take care friends!

See you tomorrow!

Helpful sites:

Healthy Lifestyle Balance– love this gals approach and she has some great resources!

National Eating Disorders– very comprehensive site directing you to other resources

Intuitive Eating– terrific site that will lead you to more resources

Something Fishy– additional site detailing various types of disordered eating and a great starting place if you would like to find a counselor, nutritionist or therapist to talk to.

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2 Responses to “My Journey Part 3”

  1. Awesome post! I love reading about your journey. Mostly because I am still on mine. I really need to start reading that book! I just need to find some time first…lol

  2. Thank you!!! These journeys can be intense :)

    Do let me know what you think of the book.

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