I mentioned in Sunday’s post that I’d be focusing on intuitive eating this week as part of our fitness challenge, and I decided I wanted to talk a little bit more about that today.  It’s so basic, yet so few of us really eat according to our appetites – I think it’s worth talking about.

A little backstory:  about 11 years ago, I was about 40 – 50 pounds heavier than I am now.  I lost that weight by embracing exercise and becoming a fairly rigid calorie counter (Yeah, I was totally super-fun then).  Then about five years ago, things took a little bit of a turn – I started overexercising (literally hours each day) and restricting everything I ate.  It wasn’t pretty; I lost too much weight, developed a limp from running injuries I wouldn’t let heal, and got really sad and isolated.  In order to recover from that, I had to give up dieting behaviors altogether and relearn how to…eat.  These books saved me:

They really all focus on one main principle: trust your appetite and you’ll find a stable, healthy weight for you.  That’s the hard part, that “for you.”  Because it may not be thin – it may not be the weight that you necessarily want to be.  But it’s really better than struggling and fighting and hating yourself all the time, isn’t it?

While I don’t have issues with restriction and overexercising anymore, I do find myself eating mindlessly – finishing whatever I’ve put on my plate* whether I’m still hungry or not, eating things just because I think it’s “time” to eat and the opportunity is there.  It’s not terribly harmful, but it’s not good self-care either.

So, this week, I’m really working on returning to those principles of intuitive eating – listening to my appetite, eating what my body wants regardless of if it “makes sense” (i.e., smashed chickpea salad for breakfast, or a cookie for a snack), and stopping when I’m no longer hungry whether I have finished the food or not.

It’s really hard to eat this way sometimes, but it’s worth doing – I’ve never felt more at peace with my body than when I’m engaged in good self-care practices such as sensible exercise and intuitive eating, and that alone makes the work worth it.

Tell me: what do you begin with when you find you need to return to good self-care

*I think that’s a dieting behavior I can’t really shake – it’s like because I’ve portioned out that cup of grapes or whatever, I’m going to finish every last bite, dang it.  It’s a tough one!