Intuitive Eating

So much has happened in my life over the past month; I have been experiencing so much chaos, confusion, frustration, and anxiety. In the moments of calm; however, I have not wasted the opportunities to reflect. As we have dealt with the rapidly failing health of a loved one, those reflections have often pertained to health and wellness, especially long-term health. In a roundabout way, that has led me to the concept of intuitive eating. 

Intuitive eating isn’t a new concept to me. Being a perpetual dieter and spending a lot of time online and offline in this space, I have some understanding of it. I have a half-finished book, “The Emotional Eaters Repair Manual” by Julie M. Simon on my nightstand that talks in great length about it. That book is unfinished largely because, while exhilarating, my knee-jerk emotional response to the concept is fear and mistrust of my own intuition.

I have endured an ever-evolving eating disorder for the past 30 years. I have sought and received professional treatment for bulimia and binge eating disorder. I find myself now questioning whether the past 10 years of dieting is nothing more than a restrictive, control-based counterpart of disordered behavior surrounding food. When I am counting calories, when I am pre-planning and preparing my weekly meals and weighing out portions on my little kitchen scale, I feel like I am being “good,” like I am being disciplined and healthy. But maybe this isn’t self-care – maybe this is just another extreme. I believe I fall short of orthorexia, but I also believe that the emotions I feel when I think about having this relationship with food for the rest of my life tells me this isn’t right, it isn’t sustainable, it isn’t what I want for myself. At the same time, giving that up feels like risking the weight loss and improved overall health I have achieved thus far.

It’s scary to imagine giving up control. It’s scary to imagine learning to trust my intuition. It’s scary to think I may not be able to tell the difference between my intuitive voice and the voice of my trauma. Yet, it is equally scary to imagine being 60 years old, my mobility limited by nearly a lifetime of being overweight, tugging my little food scale out of the cabinet to weigh out one ounce of chickpeas. 

When I think about a successful transition to intuitive eating, I feel this potential for liberation. What would that feel like? What if there are no more “good foods” and “bad foods?” What if there were no more counting calories, no more weighing foods, no more refrigerator full of little snack-sized zip top plastic bags of portioned grapes or carrot sticks? What if I never looked at others again with envy at their “normal” relationships with food, if I didn’t feel like there is something wrong with me?

I have been driven by my goals to where I am now – the incessant calorie-counter, the persistent dieter, constant “pinner” of online fitspo. My weight loss journey has been driven by the pursuit of a physical ideal I have imagined for myself, sculpting the body I see in my mind’s eye. I have paid some lip service to the idea of overall mind, body and spirit wellness but, honestly, those were superficial thoughts I invented to justify my quest for a certain type of body I saw as worthy of love and respect (something I have never felt I’ve had in my life). I find myself, today, in a head- and heart-space, of wanting something different from what I have wanted before: wanting true and lasting overall health and wellness. I find myself, today, wondering if adopting a practice of intuitive eating along with a more natural, intuitive and holistic approach to fitness, emotional health and mental wellbeing might be the path for me. It’s scary. It’s exciting. It’s enticing. I wonder…

A Return to Blogging

From the beginning of my journey, I have been focused on my weight. I talked a good game about self-care, about fitness, about motivation, about all sorts of things but every ounce of my drive was measured in pounds on a bathroom scale. Turns out, this may not be the best way to go about this. 

I took time off from blogging – about 19 months – and I made the decision to do that for a number of reasons. The first reason was that I felt obligated to generate content on a regular basis, which put me in a position of trying to write when I had nothing meaningful to say. I read some of those posts now and have to refrain from rolling my eyes as a few range from pretentious to banal. The second reason I stepped away was a nagging case of imposter syndrome. Who am I to dole out weight loss advice when I have never actually reached my weight loss goals, when I struggle as much as I do? I felt like a fraud, like I was all self-righteous talk without the results to back that up. The third reason I stopped blogging was that this blog really doesn’t have a large readership and it often felt like I was screaming into the void. Seriously, my own family didn’t even read this. 

Why on earth would I come back now? Most simply put, things have changed. 

I have started, for the first time in my journey, to really start digging deep into my emotional issues. I recognize that this is not a weight loss journey but a transformative journey of body and soul. I recognize that, until they are addressed, the issues driving my behavior will continue to reemerge and hinder my progress. It isn’t enough to want to lose weight. My weight was never my problem, it was a symptom of my problems. I wear my trauma on my body, like an anchor tethering me to my past. 

I have been doing a lot of thinking, a lot of talking to myself aloud, a lot of journaling trying to learn about the roots of my behaviors. I have been examining my core traumas, looking back in time to identify when coping mechanisms were adopted and patterns emerged. Looking inward doesn’t feel like enough. I feel the need to engage in the cathartic practice of writing my discoveries down. This is the deep dive. The peeling of the onion. The unpacking of baggage. I am the cartographer of the roadmap of my life. I write when I have something to say. I write with brutal, painful, potentially embarrassing candor without any hope or expectation of inspiring anyone. Finally, I write for an audience of one: myself.